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Scottish councils to fund joint digital team



Authorities sign up to collective transformation strategy and look to hire chief official

Most of Scotland’s local authorities have got behind a digital transformation campaign for local services, signing up to follow a national strategy and to fund the work of a digital team for the next three years.

The Improvement Service has said that 27 of Scotland’s 32 councils have now joined the Digital Transformation Partnership, and are recruiting a chief digital officer to lead the work.

Paul Derry, director of shared services for the Improvement Service, said it is aiming to get the remaining five councils involved, and to have a team of five or six people in place by the autumn.

He said funding from the local authorities is in the £100,000s, and that the Improvement Service hopes to attract financial support from other areas. It is also providing staff time support and will host the digital team.

The Digital Transformation Strategy was developed around the turn of the year and approved by the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and the Local Government Digital Transformation Board.

Future principles

It focuses on principles rather than detailed plans, highlighting the need to move from an ICT strategy to concentrate on digital services, to fund collaboration where it will produce benefits, and for all councils in Scotland to become digital businesses by 2020. Other features include the need for all new services to be digital by default, for all major services to include digital delivery and data analytics, and that all internal transactions should be digital.

"We're taking a near agile approach, with no blueprint or detailed plan and want time to work with partners to put in place the priorities," Derry said, adding that the plan is for the chief digital officer to make significant progress in the first 100 days after taking on the role.

The chief digital officer will report to the board, which is chaired by East Renfrewshire council's chief executive Lorainne McMillan, with responsibilities that include turning the strategy into a set of actions for immediate impact, and working with the councils on a portfolio of projects to exploit the relevant technologies.

The role will also involve collaboration with other public sector organisations, including the Scottish Government, public sector IT association Socitm, SEEMiS (Scotland’s group of digital in education), NHS National Shared Services, and the Improvement Service.

Enhancing innovation

Councillor David O’Neill, president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and chair of the Improvement Service board, said: “With successful national digital transformation projects such as myjobscotland and tellmescotland already in place and delivering efficiencies across local government, this exciting new role will harness our expertise further by enhancing the innovative thinking which already exists within our workforce and strengthening the service we offer to our communities.”

Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution Derek Mackay said: “The appointment of a chief digital officer for local government will strengthen strategic leadership and influence good practice across the sector, and we look forward to working closely with the successful candidate in the future.”

Image: By flickrtickr2009 from Wikimedia, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

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