This article examines how horizontal integration between the various departments of a local authority in the United Kingdom (UK) occurs. Following that the aim of this article is to extract the “success factors” in government intervention that support horizontal and vertical integration based on the strategies pursued in the UK in order to render favourable results if applied elsewhere. The research methodology consisted of an in-depth case study that used the research tools of interviews and referring to archival documents. This research is timely as the maturity of e-government increases the issues of integrating processes and systems across various government departments becomes pertinent. The conclusion and lessons that can be learnt from this research is that e-government integration on a horizontal level obtains significant efficiency and effectiveness as more and more public services are being centralized.
Due to the advent of the Internet, business opportunities involving information and communication technologies (ICTs) have multiplied, persuading not only commercial enterprises, but also governments around the globe to invest profoundly into e-services. However, now the potential of a clear link between the use of ICTs and economic growth has become apparent, thereby urging numerous organisations and governments to invest profoundly into it (OECD, 2002). The e-services offered by governments are aimed at relaying information and public services to citizens over the Internet and is referred to in general as “e-government.” E-government encompasses a broad spectrum of activities that are offered using ICTs and allows an improved service of the government to citizens (Northrup & Thorson, 2003). There are many varying definitions of e-government, but for the purposes of this paper, the following definition is offered. E-government is an electronic technology that has the ability to transform relations within general government and between government bodies, citizens and businesses to better deliver its services and ultimately improve efficiency (World Bank, 2005).
According to Lee, Tan, and Trimi (2005), various countries adopting the e-government initiative are at different levels of development, and to date very few governments have initiated the collaboration of government agencies across horizontal and vertical levels. With reference to the United Kingdom (UK), which is the backdrop of this research, in 1997 the Prime Minister announced that a quarter of all government services in the UK will be electronically delivered within five years (Phythian & Taylor, 2001). However, by the end of 2005 the deadline for providing 100% of the government services online had to be extended as most local authorities failed to meet the cut-off date; thereby causing the deadline to be extended to 2008 (www.computing.co.uk). Furthermore, many governmental agencies are affording only basic online services such as downloadable forms and transactions; whereas horizontal integration grants real-time systems offering a one-stop-shop for all e-services (Layne & Lee, 2001). Consequently, according to Norris and Moon (2005), very few governments offer much in the way of two- way transactional e-government or provide horizontal e-government integration.