U.K. governments vie for makeover -- digital style

Communities in the United Kingdom have only two more weeks to submit proposals for a chance to win a digital makeover.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister announced the Digital Challenge in December 2005. The winner will get the chance to use information and communications technologies to better serve area residents and improve local government services. To this end, the central government and industry are providing about $17.5 million. The deadline for submissions is April 28.

One winner will receive more than $12 million toward implementing its proposal. The winner will be announced in January 2007 and is expected to implement the proposal by April 2007. The winner will then have three years to establish itself as a model for a digital community, including acting as a showcase for other local governments.

Also, 10 regional winners will be announced in June. Each will receive about $350,000 to help transform their communities and further develop their proposal by December 2006. Another $1.4 million will go toward developing the Digital Challenge and Innovation network, which will create a framework enabling all communities to learn from the program.

Local governments or authorities must submit a proposal in partnership with volunteer organizations, community groups, and other social and private interests.

According to information on the Digital Challenge Web site, organizers want the winning bid to show how the government will use information and communications technologies to empower citizens, how it will transform services, and how its initiatives are sustainable and cost effective.

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