by Richard Steel

Still trying to make central government listen

Jul 03, 20083 mins
IT Strategy

Jos Creese was confirmed as the chair of the LG CIO Council meeting, which met today. Its minutes will be published in the public area of the Socitm web site, so I am not going to try and report, in detail, the meeting here.

However, there are a few points that I’d like highlight. The first is our determination to be as open as possible about the work we do. It does often seem that Government work on ICT and transformation is its best kept secret, with minutes and reports marked “not for circulation” or otherwise restricted. We want to ensure that Local Government is well informed of developments and able to confidently support and engage in transformational government initiatives.

Paul Davidson, who chairs the “Local Government Reference Group to the Chief Technology Officer Council”, came along to describe its work. Essentially, its relationship to the National CTO Council is the same as ours’ to the CIO Council.

There was a lot of discussion about the various ICT transformation working groups, and we agreed to map the groups, their terms of reference and the local government representative involvement, ensure there is no duplication, and that we have effective representation in all areas. This will also be published on the Socitm web-site.

Two weeks ago, Philip Littleavon, the Government Connect Programme Director, gave Socitm and other stakeholders the opportunity to comment on planned policy announcements on the Government Connect role in Data Handling procedures, which have been developed partly in response to publication of the Hannigan Report, and which will confirm the intended pivotal role of Government Connect in securely processing Government Client information.

I wrote expressing reservations, given GC’s “long and chequered history”, about what now seemed a precipitous move, while supporting the aims of quickly turning the situation around and achieving real benefits – and invited Philip to discuss the proposals with us at today’s meeting.

He wasn’t able to attend personally, but Simon Norbury came along to explain and discuss the plans with us. I have to say that Simon gave the most comprehensive and cohesive explanation of the strategy that I’ve heard to date.

Our feedback was essentially a plea to ensure that communication of the policy to Councils is as effective and well-targeted. (Mark Brett has just delivered a survey of local authorities, commissioned by GC, of the help and support that ocal authorities who have not yet engaged in Government Connect, require to do so.)