2.2 Central and local government
In many countries, government can be thought of as having a central component and a local or regional component. In the UK, central government is based in London, although some functions are devolved to the Scottish Executive in Edinburgh, the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff, and the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast (suspended at the time of writing). These devolved assemblies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are nevertheless forms of central government. Central government is generally concerned with such things as making laws, collecting national taxes (e.g. income tax, VAT), administering the armed services, national transport policy, determining policy on foreign relations, health, social security, and so on.
Local government is concerned with running local services, such as schools, health centres, public libraries, refuse collection, planning permission for buildings, etc. Funding for local services tends to come from a mixture of local taxes (for example, the council tax in the UK) and central government money. According to one UK newspaper, 80 per cent of the public services that people are most concerned with are run by local government rather than central government (Cross, 2005).
Referencing without quoting
Referencing is needed sometimes even when you do not give a quotation. Drawing on data from another source generally needs a reference. In the Cross (2005) example above, no text is quoted, but there is a reference. This is because the statistic about 80 per cent of public services is important, and possibly open to challenge. That is why there is a reference.
When the information you use is common knowledge, or can be found in dictionaries, encyclopedias and other reference works, you do not need to give a reference unless the information is contentious. Very particular information, such as statistical information, however, nearly always needs a reference.
In the UK, e-government is a matter for both central government and local government working collaboratively. However, Musgrave (2005) refers to:
[…] gaps in understanding, and lack of collaboration, between officers in Local and Central Government Services. These findings are symptomatic of a cultural divide between Local and Central Government Services. The culture of non-cooperation across UK government is seen as the most substantial obstacle to sharing services, more so than legal or IT issues.
It is important to appreciate, therefore, that making e-government work successfully is not simply a technical matter. It depends as much on overcoming organisational and cultural differences between central and local government.