Council chief executives have been asked to fundamentally examine whether investment in digital will help transform their services in a letter from their representative body.
The Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (Solace) has written to its members calling for a discussion on improving digital leadership within local authorities.
It has called for comments on a new draft policy on how to improve digital expertise at the very top level of councils.
The letter to members said: “Digital is too often considered to be an end in itself – after all, bells, whistles, flashing lights and functionality are wonderful.
“But in leadership terms, digital must be about utility, outcomes and the positive differences that can be made.
Solace said that the consultation is aimed at testing the “hunch” that investing in digital will support the transformation of local services.
It said: “Do we have a clear articulation of why local government needs to be digital by design or is this something that evangelists believe and everyone else is trying to ignore? Or as ever is the truth somewhere in the middle?” it said.
The key priorities in the emerging digital leadership policy are:
- Digital as enabler of economic growth, prosperity and liveability in our places;
- Digital as catalyst for world-class public service transformation;
- Digital as vehicle for the radical re-definition of the relationship between the citizen and the state;
- Digital leadership skills, capacity and capability for the future;
- Digital by design/default – infrastructure and inclusion
The document also asked chief executives whether local government should adopt a “Silicon Valley” mindset towards technology.
This would involve “thinking beyond apps and websites and spend time getting ahead of the new technology trends” including wearables, 3D printing, and driverless cars.
The discussion document said: “If we don’t take time to understand this highly citizen-centric technology now we will find ourselves behind again within a couple of years.”
Solace also called on Solace members with the interest and capacity to join the Solace Digital Leadership network to assist the development of digital leadership policy.