by Richard Steel

Public Sector It in a Downturn

Feb 28, 20093 mins
IT Leadership

This morning I attended the Intellect-Socitm Supplier Forum, held at Intellect’s offices on Russell Square.

The session examined the main issues facing local government and how the current economic climate will impact the local public sector market in 2009.

  • What role/potential is there for IT to have a positive impact for local authorities in 2009 and how do we identify and promote these potential areas?
  • How are the current and proposed plans for 2009 affected by the tough financial situation facing local authorities? I.e. given the current financial constraints will local authorities continue to focus on implementing personalised/citizen centric services and joined-up networks such as EAS and PSN etc

Patrick Smith, of IBM (co-Chair of the Forum) Steve Palmer and I presented our views. Between us, I think we covered a lot of ground in sessions that complemented one another. I emphasised shared infrastructure, whereas Steve majored on new service models and issues such as licensing.

A theme for Patrick was opaque, inflexible procurement practice that affords little room for innovation. The Forum is run under Chatham House rules, but if there’s a version of the minutes that can be published outside the Forum’s membership, I’ll signpost it here.

Steve, Adrian, who also attended the Supplier Forum, and I hurried on to a Socitm Membership Board meeting at Camden Town Hall.

We reviewed progress in the development of core membership principles. Some are becoming well-embedded, such as “one member, one vote”. Others are “work in progress”. An interim measure was to reserve eligibility for election to the Presidential Team to serving IT Heads in Local Government. We discussed how to introduce more egalitarian eligibility criteria.

A suggestion was for one based on having achieved a minimum number of years’ continuous membership of the Society – five, say. If such a criterion were agreed, it could be announced for implementation (say) five years hence. We aim to finalise core principles by October (Conference time) and will be further consulting members in the meantime. I think I may previously have mentioned my intention to consult all regional chairs on their requirements for support of regional activities from corporate Socitm? Following a steer from today’s meeting, I’ll also be discussing the Society’s value proposition, and content of a proposed corporate membership package.

At our next meeting it’s planned to discuss work completed on these issues, and feedback, with a view to how to prioritise and deliver the agreed objectives – what’s realistic and practical, and by when.

We also agreed work to be undertaken on a Communications Plan – What, How, To Whom, When etc, and agreed feedback on a Government consultation on “fair access to professions” and a PARN (Professional Associations Research Network) consultation on Societies’ developmental and membership requirements in the next 10 years!