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Auditor says Welsh councils ‘lack vision’ for data

07/12/18

Mark Say Managing Editor

Local authorities in Wales need to do more to break down data silos, the country’s auditor general has said.

Drawing of data on laptop

Audit Wales has published a report, The maturity of local government use of data, which says only a few local authorities have focused on building an environment to get the most from the data they hold.

Some have taken steps that include adopting a set of common standards; integrating management systems; investing in data analytical skills and capacity and improving the range and coverage of personal data they collect with partners.

But they generally lack a clear vision for the use of data and do not have corporate data standards. Subsequently, a duplication of information is common, integration of data often poor and the potential for its re-use is overlooked.

The report says that local authorities are not taking advantage of the massive amounts of data they collect to operate as efficiently and as effectively as possible. Too often services and teams hold information in silos and use it for a single purpose.

Recommendations

It comes with up several recommendations, including that local authorities should have a clear vision that treats data as a key resource. This would come with running a data audit and establishing corporate standards and coding for all the services using their data.

Another is to invest and support the development of staff skills in data analytics, mining and segmentation.

Councils are also urged to provide more clarity about data protection and update their data sharing protocols to encourage collaboration with partners.

Finally, they need to set data reporting standards to ensure that minimum data standards underpin decision-making, and make more open data available.

Auditor General Adrian Compton said: “It’s really important that local government starts to create a culture where elected members, senior officers and frontline staff think about and use data differently.

“This report identifies the key steps that can be taken to create a data driven environment, focusing on clear leadership, strong vision and breaking silo working. It highlights examples of organisations who use their data effectively, and I hope that focusing on good practice will see authorities in Wales upping their game.”

Image from Audit Wales

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