Councils told to simplify their processes and boost information sharing

Local authorities can only improve public services through digital if they commit to simplify, standardise and share systems and best practice, according to the Local CIO Council.

Councils should reduce duplication and simplify systems – Photo credit, Flickr, ad.mak

The council – an independent group supported by the public sector IT professionals’ representative body Socitm – has said that the uptake of digital has been hampered by overly complex systems, duplicated and fragmented approaches and poor data sharing.

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In a paper published to coincide with Socitm’s ShareDigital conference, being held in London today, the council said that the range of digital solutions are a challenge for those that are stuck in their old ways of working.

These sorts of bodies are “vulnerable to organisational ‘lock-in’ to rapidly obsolescing technology”, the paper said.

Speaking at the conference, Martin Ferguson, director of policy and research at Socitm, highlighted failures in adult care assessment as an example of poor practice.

In one region, he said, there were 44 application forms required to assess eligibility, but 95% of the data needed was covered by just two forms.

However, the paper said that local government is in a position to change this, if they applied three principles: to simplify, standardise and share their work.

The paper makes a series of recommendations, including to put location first when making technology-related decisions and use place-based outcomes, rather than focusing on organisational priorities.

It also urged local authorities to apply and enforce open design principles and standards across the sector. This, it said, would drive up standards, create new marketplaces and “break the stranglehold of some proprietary vendor solutions”.

In addition, councils must join up with others and share good solutions, take on agile ways of working – such as releasing products early and carrying out iterative updates.

They should also appoint someone to be accountable for technology-enabled change, and adopt standardised language and systems to help transfer across different services and councils.


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