Local GDS ‘could break supplier stranglehold’

A local Government Digital Service could help disrupt the current supply chain and end the stranglehold a few suppliers have over the sector, according to former Socitm president Steve Halliday.

Halliday’s comments come  six months after a report from the now-abolished Office for Fair Trading said that competition in the local government software market may not be working as well as it could.

But Halliday said that without radical change, local government ICT processes will carry on duplicating costs and would not get better very quickly.

He said: “a Local GDS needs to create a value proposition that Local Authorities would want. The disruptive potential rests in the value proposition.

“When an authority chose to replace its web solution it would find an offer from Local GDS that was the most affordable, had the best roadmap for development and was the most well suited to their requirements.”

If councils developed a solution for a specific challenge, it would become absorbed into the local GDS offering, made available free of charge to other authorities.

Halliday said that current efforts to share good practice via voluntary groups would not provide the capacity to make such changes.

And he seemed to admit that there would not be many, if any, further dashboards released for local government services by GDS.

He said: “GDS is focussed on central government. Capacity is the issue.”

Local government had missed a big opportunity to save costs implementing changes required by reforms to the health and social care system giving councils more responsibility.

He said: “Across the country councils are scurrying about to find digital solutions. They are re-inventing and duplicating effort – imagine if a Local GDS existed now. It would be commissioning solutions that could be deployed with minimum fuss and little cost to all authorities who chose to be part of it.”

At an event last night, a deputy director of digital at the Department of Communities and Local Government claimed that a local GDS was “the wrong answer to important questions” according to a reports on Twitter.

Colin Marrs

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