Digital service standard set to mandate data reuse

Digital service suppliers should re-use existing data and registers rather than starting from scratch, according to a list of 18 draft standards for councils released today.

Last week, PublicTechnology reported that the new Local Government Digital Service Standard emerged from discussions held earlier this month at the offices of the Government Digital Service.

Publication of the draft standard covering transactional services has been coordinated by digital practitioner network LocalGov Digital, and based on the existing central government standard could be adapted for councils.

However, unlike Whitehall guidelines, the draft local version requires that suppliers “re-use existing data and registers where the authoritative information already exists”. Other differences include the removal of references to testing with ministers.

A statement from LocalGov Digital said: “The draft Local Government Digital Service Standard suggests a common approach for local authorities to deliver good quality, user centred, value for money digital services.”

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The new standard is aimed at helping to enable peer reviews of services, strengthening procurement by groups of councils and enabling greater collaboration.

A consultation on the standard will run until 19 March, with councillors and officers encouraged to give their feedback.

Draft Local Government Digital Service Standard

1.  Understand user needs. Research to develop deep knowledge of who the service users are and what that means for the design of the service.

2.  Put a plan in place for ongoing user research and usability testing to continuously seek feedback from users to improve the service.

3.  Ensure a sustainable multidisciplinary team can design, build and operate as appropriate the service led by a suitably skilled senior service manager with decision making responsibility.

4.  Create a service using the agile, iterative and user-centred methods set out in the Government Service Design Manual.

5.  Build a service that can be iterated and improved in response to need and make sure you have the capacity, resources and technical flexibility to do so.

6.  Evaluate what tools and systems will be used to build, host, operate and measure the service, and how to procure them.

7.  Evaluate what user data and information the digital service will be providing or storing and address the security level, legal responsibilities, privacy issues and risks associated with the service (consulting experts where appropriate).

8.  Where possible use or buy open source tools and consider making source code open and reusable, publishing it under appropriate licenses.

9.  Use open standards, design patterns and common government platforms where available.

10.  Be able to test the end-to-end service in an environment similar to that of the live version, including all common browsers and devices.

11.  Make a plan for the event of the digital service being taken temporarily offline.

12.  Create a service that is simple and intuitive enough that users succeed the first time.

13.  Build a service consistent with the user experience of government digital services, including the Government Service Manual design patterns and style guidance.

14.  Encourage use of the digital service with assisted digital support.

15.  Use tools for analysis that collect performance data. Use this data to analyse the success of the service and to translate this into the next stage of development.

16.  Identify performance indicators for the service, incorporating with existing indicators and publishing to a performance platform, if appropriate.

17.  Re-use existing data and registers where the authoritative information already exists.

18.  Test the service from beginning to end with appropriate council member responsible for it.

Colin Marrs

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