The government's internal management consultancy, the Performance and Innovation Unit (www. cabinet-office. gov. uk/innovation), last autumn looked at other countries'attempts at e-government, and found some doing a lot better than the UK.

Singapore has one of the strongest online government efforts, with a central website at www. ecitizen. gov. sg. It features a 'road of life', lined with buildings representing various government departments, such as schools, military service, job-hunting and running a business. It includes several transactional services:

applications for schools, housing and government grants can all be made.

However, the UK report suggested that Singapore has an advantage. It quotes a Singaporean on his government identity number: 'I have had a number since the day I was born and as I grew up the number became part of me. 'Britons famously loathe ideas like compulsory identity cards, so the UK e-government starts at a disadvantage - perhaps for the best. The geographically tiny Asian city-state lends itself to centralisation, which makes offering services online a simpler business.