Socitm proposes Local Government Digital Service

Local government needs a dedicated team of advisors to support the implementation of digital transformation, according to Socitm, the membership body for council ICT leaders.

Socitm today said that voluntary grass roots networks such as LocalGov Digtal,or membership bodies including itself, were unlikely to deliver changes at necessary scale.

In a briefing note released today it said that the only solution was to create a properly-funded version of the Government Digital Service (GDS), created to develop digital services for Whitehall departments.

A statement by Socitm said: “It is equally unrealistic to expect a sector where there is a history of patchy implementation of digital, and where funding is extremely tight, to change its approach suddenly without some sort of financial kick-start.

“In central government, for example, GDS has been heavily funded to create digital transformation.”

Socitm said that a team of advisors should be made available to support teams in local authorities to help identify and promote best practice, as well as opportunities to share digital assets.

However, it added that digital development should continue to take place within digital teams in each local authority.

It said: “Unlike GDS, LGDS would not be the primary source of systems development, although there may be opportunities for key shared transactions to be co-created through the team, with a view to their integration into local solutions.”

The proposed LGDS would also support the joining up of local public services and their providers.

It could also initiate collaboration on digital projects in specific service areas identified as poor digital performers, according to the briefing.

It said: “The model of Connect Digitally, involving local authority service and digital teams, and existing and new suppliers, to co-create minimum standards for digital services, might be adapted for this.”

The briefing concluded that only a small amount of capacity in the centralized LGDS team could make a big difference in the pace of improving websites and realising benefits from digital delivery of services.

Colin Marrs

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