ICT shake up at Rotherham following restoration of control

The Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham is to regain control over its ICT services from government-appointed commissioners.

The team of five commissioners was appointed in February last year after a number of reports highlighted serious failings across the authority.

But now the government has written to the council to restore a number of powers, including over ICT.

Communities secretary Greg Clark said: “Louise Casey’s report into Rotherham council made shocking reading – we must do everything we can to prevent those failings ever being repeated.

“In the last 11 months, Rotherham has made improvements and so I have proposed to transfer control over some functions back from the commissioners to democratically-elected councillors.”

However, he said that the commissioners would remain in place with powers over some key functions, including children’s services, adult social care, audit, and other functions “which still remain high risk”.

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The authority was taken over in February 2015 after it was declared “not fit for purpose” over its handling of child sexual exploitation in the town.

Under the commissioners, the ICT and information governance services have undergone an in-depth review. The review also included an assessment of the technical infrastructure by third party technical consultants.

According to a report released this week: “Both reviews identified many areas of good practice and technical excellence and no value for money concerns were raised. Several areas for improvement were also identified – particularly around customer engagement, exploitation of information assets and project control.”

A proposed new structure for the ICT and digital service has been approved by commissioners and consultation with staff is underway.

The new structure is planned to be in place by the end of March 2016, and the council is recruiting for an assistant director of ICT and digital services to start in April.

Colin Marrs

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