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Council group plans for open source revenues and benefits

28/11/19

Mark Say Managing Editor

A group of local authorities led by Teignbridge District Council has taken a step in an initiative to develop an open source platform for revenues and benefits operations.

Open source code on screen

It is working with East Devon, Exeter, Sedgemoor, Basildon and Brentwood on the project, which received financial backing from the most recent round of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Local Digital Fund.

The councils have launched a procurement for support in carrying out research with local authorities and their customer to establish the feasibility of an open source revenues and benefits system. They are looking to run this phase of the project over three months from the beginning of January.

The procurement notice states specifically that existing suppliers have been resistant to making the systems interoperable and none have expressed an interest in developing a new core system. This has been creating an expensive market for local authorities and hindered their ability to develop APIs, encourage automation, raise logic across systems and analyse data.

“IT platforms are driving the process rather than the other way around, and local authorities have limited ability remodel and adopt their processes from a user perspective,” the notice says.

This reflects longstanding complaints from within local government about long term vendor lock-in and the inflexibility of some key digital systems.

Testing hyopothesis

In this project, the councils are initially aiming to test the hypothesis that an in-house open source system could be developed and to show some of the cross-authority benefits.

Another piece of work is looking at whether an open source componentised IT solution is feasible and scalable.

The notice also includes an indication that a new system would have to provide scope for councils to change the way they work.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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