Last month ‘LocalGov Digital’, a recently formed group of digital leaders, published the Local Government Digital Service Standard. Working with GDS, who’s own ‘digital by default’ standard was launched last June, the standard suggests a common approach for local authorities to deliver excellent quality, user centred, value for money digital services.

There is a powerful need for common digital standards across local government. This is growing, particularly as a result of devolution, shared services, service ‘join up’, funding and demand pressures, and ‘digital transformation’ which are all shifting the focus from government departments to local, place-based delivery in local government.

Digital standards impact on public services

From my discussions with local government CIOs, most seem to agree with the need for digital standards, but there is also a view that these must be broader and adapted to have the impact they need in local public services.

In particular, local government digital standards must meet the 'digital by design' challenge facing the high cost, high value, so-called 'relational services' - e.g. adult care, isolation, troubled families, safeguarding, adoption services, etc. These are a much greater digital challenge than the pursuit of online 'digital by default' transactions and channel shift.
I would also like to see something more focused on outcomes than on methods. Methods certainly matter, especially in order to change technology management culture in the public sector. But outcomes are the real key to local government transformation, with measures of success being much more than rationalising the local public sector web estate.

A local GDS

The standards conversation also opens up discussion about the development of a pan-sector digital team. Arguably this could help to drive up standards in local government, developing common solutions and enforcing best practice, but I would say that this can already be done within the sector, without creating a new group.

To expand further on this argument I have written a more in-depth briefing note, including my own ‘starter for 10’ local public services digital standards. To download the briefing paper please click here.

About the author

Joe Bloggs is an expert user of Umbraco. Always keen to share hints and tips on getting the best out of Umbraco.

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