Moves are afoot to create a local government digital service similar to the Government Digital Service which is hosted by Cabinet Office.

This week iNetwork attended a “summit” at the Local Government Association alongside Chief Executives, CIOs, policy and digital folk to think about what might be useful and to shape a response from the sector.

Rather usefully we had our regular iNetwork’s Digital Mangers forum this week also so we had a great opportunity to gather our arguments after insightful talks by Declan Grogan, MD of NDL (, and Paul Davidson, Director of Standards at the Local eGovernment Standards Body (

Where’s this come from?

Essentially both Conservative and Labour Parties have stated that they wish to see the Government Digital Service extended into Local Government.

Please see Chancellors Budget Statement in March and the Labour zero based review no.11: Digital Government

The Department of Communities and Local Government has taken its steer from this and initiated a set of activity that will feed into the Autumn Budget Statement. As such, this is a discussion about “what” rather than “if” and work needs to happen now to influence that decision.

What the sector needs

As usual the discussion at the Digital Managers forum was wide and thought provoking and I have boiled this down to the following aspiration:

A) deliver great online services at low cost to our customers which encourage and enable them to go online.

B) enable us to work more effectively with people in need of support, such as supported families

As such the following are “musts”:

  1. Effective leadership of “digital” across local public services – coordinated, well communicated activity with an effective, joined up response to existing and new policy from Government. This should include leadership of a number of new ways of working.
  1. New ways of working which enable:
  • Customer led design – a locally appropriate version of GDS design principles
  • Systems interoperability – open APIs which are owned by the sector
  • Unique Identifiers – standard identifiers for people, places, definitions
  • Transport – agreement on how information is moved about in a consistent and secure way
  • Information sharing – national information sharing agreements in key policy areas and a mechanism for developing new ones
  • Central transactional capabilities – digital engines for commodity activities, some of which already exist like the Deferred Payment Calculator API, Verify and some which are needed e.g. DWP data engine, a localgov payments engine.
  • Supplier accreditation – Based on compliance with systems interoperability standards.
  • Digital inclusion and engagement – addressing digital exclusion.
  • Digital ownership and development – skills development, recognition and leadership.

This would provide us with:

  • Great designs which improve digital take up
  • Information standards with agreed semantics, syntax, quality, rights, trust, transport, governance
  • Shared national API capabilities that enable local delivery
  • Supplier frameworks
  • Funding
  • Appropriate coordinated agreement and governance

Over the coming weeks we will be working with the LGA to craft the response to the DCLG.

Sessions such as the one planning for 6 May will play into this as our work to support devolution in Greater Manchester and forums such as ADASS Informatics North West, Greater Manchester ICT Managers, Cheshire and Merseyside ICT Policy and Strategy Group.

Please get in touch with or if you would like to contribute to the debate. There is a thread on Linkedin for this here:

Relevant studies and information

LGA – Transforming public services using digital technology report and series of 13 case studies, 8 vox pop videos –

Solace – digital leadership think piece –

Solace – Local Government in a digital age –

Ipsos Mori survey on internet usage  –

Report of the Digital Government Review Advisory Panel – Making Digital Government Work for Everyone

Aero Based Review, Interim Report no.11: Digital Government – .

Deloitte research, Making digital default Understanding citizens attitudes

Policy Exchange – Small Pieces Loosely Joined: How smarter use of technology and data can deliver real reform of local government –