by Richard Steel

The government wants our input – for a change

Apr 06, 20082 mins
IT Strategy

Steve Palmer – the CIO from Hillingdon Council, and a fellow Socitm Vice-President – and I met with Keith Holder and Alan Cranston from the DCSF (Department for Children, Schools & Families) at their offices in Tothill Street.

We discussed the work they are doing on authentication of young people and parents to access personal information about themselves/ their children within the educational system and services. For the first time, I believe, a Government Department is offering Socitm, not only the opportunity to input to its work before it becomes a fait accompli, but also to reach agreement on the correct solution(s) for the public sector and work with it on getting the messages across.

In the past, I believe, although we’ve had a constructive relationship with Government, we’ve been viewed by some as part of the establishment, rather than campaigning on behalf of our membership. We need to be in a position to validate initiatives and recommend support and adoption by our membership, or lobby for change if we don’t feel able to do that.

We now should seize the opportunity to exploit the good relationship that members such as Ian Cooper (Hampshire County Council) and other subject-matter experts from Socitm, have forged, and ensure their work doesn’t remain our best kept secret. We need to work on how we communicate effectively with our whole membership, and engage them fully in taking the work forwards.

Back to East Ham, then, following my last one-to-one, as CIO, with Bob for a while (he’ll meet with Geoff from now on) to my office in Stratford for a discussion of ICT Strategy with Geoff, Shane and Bevan Jones, from Corporate Policy.

Bevan is helping us to document our strategy in a manner that is both comprehensible to non-techies and consistent with the Council’s overall strategy. I’m glad to say that Bevan felt sufficiently briefed to make an immediate start, following our meeting.

For various reasons, I will continue to personally supervise Newham’s strategy whilst President of Socitm; it’s likely the right strategy for us will also relate to any other similar organisation; I’m fascinated by the rate of change of technology and, not least, because I really don’t have a clear idea of where it’s taking us in the next 3-5 years, and am looking forward to finding out!