PSN: No plans to disconnect non-compliant councils

The Cabinet Office has no plans to cut off local authorities from the Public Services Network, despite up to 20 failing to hit the deadline for compliance, according to senior officials.

Last year, the Cabinet Office threatened councils with disconnection if they failed to achieve its standards on security by the start of this month.

But John Stubley, operations director of PSN at Cabinet Office, told that it was working with councils which have not met the deadline.

He said: “There is no deadline. It is really about working through with them and understanding their plans.”

Stubley said that out of the 588 organisations required to join the PSN, around 20 had yet to achieve compliance. The vast majority of these have plans to achieve the standards agreed with Cabinet Office, with two yet to agree plans.

In an interview with today, Siobhan Coughlan, programme manager as part of productivity team at the Local Government Association said: “A handful (of councils) are not yet compliant however, most of these have signed off plans in place and so are working closely with Cabinet Office to deliver these as agreed, a couple remaining are in the process of having their plans signed of so no council is at risk of being cut off.”

In January, Cabinet Office chief operating officer Stephen Kelly wrote to councils admitting mistakes in its approach to dealing with local authorities.

The move followed criticisms over the previous approach taken by the Cabinet Office, which threatened to disconnect councils from PSN if they failed to comply with security requirements by a deadline.

Kelly’s letter said: “…we are aware that the approach applied to those that are yet to comply has not always been right. I listened to concerns about our communications, and I reiterated to senior leaders that I acknowledge those concerns.”

However, this week’s statement is the first public acknowledgement that the original deadline would not be enforced.

Mike Halliday, outgoing president of public sector ICT officials’ representative body said: “We are pleased that following our representations to and discussions with the Cabinet Office they have taken a more pragmatic approach to achieving PSN compliance.”

In her interview, Coughlan also said that issues relating to PSN compliance had been a major factor in a number of councils failing to migrate away from legacy systems running Microsoft XP.

Colin Marrs

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