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Local authorities asked to chip in to PSN group



Local authorities are being asked to contribute between £500 and £2,000 to the cost of a group set up to give advice on the controversial issue of secure connections to the public service network (PSN).

The PSN Solutions Advisory Group (SAG) has been set up by the public sector IT managers' association Socitm to help organisations connect their networks to PSN without incurring heavy costs or inflexible security requirements.

Socitm today proposed a "crowd-sourcing" model to fund the group.

PSN connection was the most controversial issue to emerge at the 2013 Socitm annual conference, with delegates from local government accusing Whitehall of imposing unrealistic requirements. These are a particular blow to organisations planning "bring your own" IT strategies.

A statement from Socitm this week said that "great progress" was being made towards establishing PSN security requirements that are "proportionate to the business risk and pragmatic in their implementation".

However much work remains to be done - hence the need for the advisory group, which is shared across all UK local public services. The group, currently staffed by volunteers, "is struggling to cope with demand and needs proper funding and resourcing," Socitm said.

"With the necessary financial backing the SAG will include dedicated staff and secondments from central and local government based throughout the UK acting as a virtual team." The group's mandate will be to: 

- Understand and promote the breadth and depth of local public services business needs through the analysis of previous and existing PSN CoCo compliance problems.

- Develop "use cases" based on business scenarios, with supporting solution designs for discussion with the Cabinet Office, the Scottish Government and the CESG security agency to establish a simpler, more appropriate compliance regime for use in 2014 and beyond .

- Create a community network of existing local public sector experts to support and coordinate business solutions to information assurance and compliance issues.

- Work closely with regional PSN support and Warning Advice and Reporting Point (WARP) groups

- Capture and share the learning openly and widely across the local public sector.

It will initially run for 12 months. To do the work, Socitm is seeking funding from the Cabinet Office, the private sector and from other government departments. "But there must also be investment from the local sector."

The Local CIO Council (LCIOC) and Socitm propose a voluntary contribution ranging from £500-£1,000 from a small district or borough up to £1,500-£2,000 from a large county, unitary or metropolitan borough.

Socitm said it will not make any profit from this activity, but will cover any costs that might be incurred.

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