Microsoft details enterprise project for U.K.

Microsoft on Tuesday provided a peek at the UK Government Gateway project it is building with officials of the British Prime Minister's e-government initiative, which aims to put 100 percent of that government's transactions online by 2005.

The first phase of the project, an XML-based portal, is up and running now. The goal is to integrate 200 central and 482 local government institutions for a "one-stop shop" e-government experience for the United Kingdom's 60 million citizens and 3 million businesses, according to Microsoft officials.

Microsoft Consulting Services built this solution in 15 weeks on top of Windows 2000 Advanced Server using BizTalk Server 2000, SQL Server 2000 and other BackOffice servers, according to Chris Atkinson, vice president of .NET Enterprise Solutions at Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash.

Atkinson held up the project as proof that Microsoft is a "true enterprise player."

"In 15 weeks ... we essentially built the architecture, and built and delivered the first set of applications for the UK Government Gateway, on time and under budget," Atkinson said.

The system allows users to tap into three government departments now, and eventually all local and national agencies will be linked up, said Andrew Pinder, the "e-envoy" for British Prime Minister Tony Blair's administration. Users' data will be protected by digital certificates.

"A citizen can opt in, or a business can opt in, and say, 'I want to deal with the government this way, through this gateway," Pinder said.

The first phase of the gateway project is focused on businesses, which will be able to complete and submit online forms to Web sites provided by the Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food departments, Pinder said.

Microsoft revealed its work with the British government at a news conference before Chairman Bill Gates kicked off the company's Government Leaders Conference in Seattle.

Also at the conference, Gates was expected to unveil the Accenture eGovernment Accelerator, an "off-the-shelf e-government platform" developed by Microsoft and Avanade. The accelerator was developed to provide governmental departments with tools and services based on the company's .NET Enterprise Server platform technologies.

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