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Scottish local government appoints joint IT leadership

13/09/16

Twenty-seven councils north of the border have taken the unusual step of appointing common IT decision makers in a bid to speed up the delivery of next generation digital public services 

Birchenall_WallaceMartyn Wallace (pictured right) has been named an overall chief digital officer (CDO) and Colin Birchenall (left) has been tapped to become chief information officer (CIO) by the group.

Both will assume their new responsibilities in a new Scottish Local Government Digital Office in the next couple of weeks. 

This resource aims to become a national centre of excellence for data, technology and digital work in the public sector, say the main backers of the plan - the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Scotland’s Local Government Digital Transformation Board, which have combined budgets to fund it for the next three years. 

“We must ensure we continue to innovate to be at the cutting edge of technologies which make it easier to serve our communities,” said Lorraine McMillian, the CEO of one of the authorities involved, East Renfrewshire Council. McMillan is also chair of the Digital Transformation Board. 

“We are looking forward to having this new digital office, which will help Scottish councils to be ahead of the game, to be as agile and effective as possible in this ever-changing digital world - and, we hope, ultimately that we will ensure that we continue to meet the needs of our increasingly technologically and digitally savvy citizens.” 

Advertisements have been running since May for the two roles, with the job description detailing the need for senior IT practitioners able to help set a long term direction for local government IT in Scotland. 

Private sector backgrounds

The office’s new CDO Wallace currently works for one of Capita’s businesses and his new colleague Birchenhall for Serco. 

“Digital technology is available to us wherever we are, at any time, and is becoming increasingly intelligent and embedded within everyday objects, such as smart watches, smart thermostats, smart light bulbs. This provides local government with an unprecedented opportunity to re-image and re-design how,” the latter said. 

The Local Government Digital Office said it wants to collaborate with other major Scottish IT stakeholders, including Holyrood, Socitm and the NHS.

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