Government CTO says councils can have digital services, but must work the Whitehall way.

Councils hoping to go digital must decide whether or not they want to work with the Government Digital Service (GDS), Whitehall CTO Liam Maxwell said today. The figure, who has worked with GDS director Mike Bracken to digitise central public services since 2012, said that while Government was exploring ways to help local authorities put services online, the onus is on councils to sign up to the Whitehall way of doing things.

 

He told CBR during his keynote at IP Expo that the GDS, responsible for putting 25 key services online by 2015, would share its digital 'blueprints' for services, but that local councils had to decide if they want them. He said: "We have designed and put together the ways to run a digital service for a particular function and if you think about it, it's a pattern. We share that with people, we make that work with people.

"There's the possibility for a digital service for local government. It's quite possible to do but it's up to local government to do it and to engage with those patterns to do it. It's not something we want to foist on people." Maxwell was responding to CBR's question about what the Government's approach is to expanding the GDS to the wider public sector.

He added: "We are looking at how we can help them do that [go digital]. There's a lot of goodwill and a lot of good ways of working together and that's a great opportunity." Labour Digital, a collection of 300 digital professionals, last month called on the party to create a 'Local GDS' to speed up digital transformation among local authorities.

The recommendation, which will be considered by MPs inlcuding Chi Onwurah as they finalise Labour's digital strategy before next May's election, was one of 82 suggestions included in 'Number One in Digital', a publication released during the partys conference. The news comes after Whitehall acknowledged it must work harder to make central Government initiatives more suitable to councils.

G-Cloud director Tony Singleton announced plans in July to make the cloud service procurement framework more attractive for local authorities, after reports of low adoption of the scheme among the wider public sector. He said: "We need to talk about a wider programme for transforming the way in which the public sector buys digital services.

"I have also been talking to [head of policy] Martin Ferguson from Socitm and [CIO] Tonino Ciuffini from Warwickshire Council about how these frameworks could better meet local authority needs when it comes to digital and cloud services." Maxwell, who has extended his run in the CTO role until 2018, spoke about the success of the GDS and the Governments' digital initiatives, claiming its 'patterns' are being used by other countries to run digital services and added that both police and health services have benefitted.

Chief Inspector Tom Winsor came into the police job last year and has set about implementing changes after criticising the presence of 2,000 different information technology systems in use in the 43 police forces.

The Boardroom by Joe Curtis| 09 October 2014