Final council to achieve PSN compliance named

Telford & Wrekin Council in the West Midlands yesterday became last local authority to connect to the Public Services Network – almost six months later than the deadline.

Andy Beale, director of common technology services at the Government Digital Service (GDS), yesterday tweeted that the final council has now made the transition to the PSN – but did not name it.

However, today in a blog post, Jim Duncan, senior technical advisor at GDS, revealed the identity of the council.

He said: “With Telford & Wrekin Council in the West Midlands completing its move, every local authority and council across England, Scotland and Wales is now connected to the network.

“We’re not going to pretend it’s been an entirely smooth journey, but we’ve tried to listen and respond, and ultimately, work together as a community to resolve concerns and overcome issues.”

Telford & Wrekin is the last of around 20 which failed to hit the original deadline for compliance of 1 April set by the Cabinet Office.

Neil Mellor, marketing director for PSNGB, the representative body for PSN suppliers said: “What has been achieved is great. Having completed this stage, we now have a common network platform.

“In itself, this has taken out costs and complexity, but the important thing is for councils to use it to do more stuff and take out more costs.”

He said the network has the potential for councils to share resources and applications, and implement agile working strategies.

But he admitted that lessons needed to be learnt from the fact that some councils had faced difficulties with compliance.

He said: “The original Government Secure Intranet code of connection probably hadn’t been policed as rigorously as it might have so some hadn’t complied fully. When it was applied rigourously for PSN compliance, clearly some were quite a way behind.”

He said that now councils have all reached the baseline, next year’s compliance process should be less painful.

“In addition, GDS is looking at how to make compliance easier for councils, particularly in relation to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategies.”

A handful of councils took radical measures  to meet PSN compliance requirements, including in Falkirk, which halted remote working as a stopgap measure.

But Mellor said BYOD was far from incompatible with PSN compliance.

“There are ways in which an organisation can have a BYOD policy. Either bringing personal devices under council management – which might not always be acceptable – or by limiting the access a known device has to certain types of data and software.”

Colin Marrs

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