Organisation to follow up with creation of regional peer networks to promote take-up
Agile methodologies, consistency with other government digital services, open standards and making use of common platforms are among the key features of the final draft of the Digital Service Standard for local government, which was released by the practitioners' group LocalGovDigital late last week.
The final version was passed by the Standard Steering Group after taking in feedback from more than 60 councils on the draft version, which published in March.
The standards are close to those outlined in the draft, including several points widely recognised as best practice in digital service design, but the number has been reduced from the initial 18.
They include using agile, iterative and user-centred methods, and an emphasis on testing, simplicity for users and consistency with the user experience of other government services.
Open standards are highlighted as important, along with using existing data and registers, and where possible making source code and service data open and reusable.
There is also an emphasis on ensuring that services are open to improvement after their launch, with clauses on performance indicators, putting in a process for ongoing user research and usability testing, and continuously seeking feedback from users.
Phil Rumens, LocalGovDigital's vice chair, said: “This is a big step forward for the way local government delivers digital. “Not only will it help create better services, it will enable this to happen in a more joined up way.”
The organisation is planning to create some regional peer networks to promote adoption of the standard and provide implementation guidelines, and is aiming to stage in summit in September.
The standard was drawn up as part of a work programme that gained some support from the Government Digital Service (GDS), and much of the draft version reflects the priorities outlined in the Digital by Default Service Standard for central government.
It has also won the support of IT industry association techUK. Naureen Khan, associate director, public sector, central and local government said: "This is a great initiative and we welcome our concerns being taken on board.
"The focus now should be on engaging with the whole of industry to ensure the standards are implemented and achieve the outcomes sought. We look forward to working closely with LocalGov Digital to make the words into reality."