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Local Digital with GDS and Socitm

February 28, 2014

[Update: The first prototype is now live. More here.]

We are about to deliver some local digital dashboards with GDS, the central Government Digital Service. There is much that Local and Central Government can achieve together with Digital. So we are learning how to collaborate more. And the best way of achieving that kind of learning is by delivering something of value.

Background

Digital means many things to many people, but for this project we will be focussing on “transactional” digital. The ability for citizens to transact with government over the internet.

The development of Digital in Local Government is well advanced. Most councils have many years of experience delivering great web sites with transactional services for a good chunk of services where digital is relevant. Of the 900 or so services that a council operates, at least 100 of them are suitable for digital transactions.

Many services, are not ideal for transactional digital – like delivering adult social care and teaching children. But the 10% or so of council services that are good for digital transactions should be done really well.

The GDS objective of “digital services so good that people prefer to use them”,  is a good target that drives down cost and improves customer satisfaction. GDS is gathering digital transactions on the Gov.UK website, “the best place to find government services and information”.

Digital assets

Socitm and GDS leaders met up to decide what we could most usefully work on together. GDS have produced many “digital assets” and we wanted to identify the best ways of making use of them in Local Government. We agreed that understanding the data is a great place to start. If we collected data about local government digital transactions, it would tell us more about where to focus our digital efforts.

Plan

So this is what we are going to do. We’ll gather data from Local Government systems and display it in the GDS performance platform.  We’ll do this in three main phases.

In phase 1, we’ll take one transaction from one local authority and display some simple KPI’s for them. This is scheduled for April 2014, for Solihull Council’s “report a missed bin” transaction. Then we’ll look at what we have produced and what we have learned.

In phase 2, we’ll take a dozen more authorities and develop this first transaction reporting with their data. Then we’ll take three more transactions and develop those for these dozen authorities. Not all authorities deliver all services, so we will only display charts where there is relevant service data.

So when we start phase 3, we’ll already have 4 transactions well developed and displayed on the performance platform. We’ll also have worked out the governance to ensure we can agree what data to collect and how to display it. In phase 3, we’ll invite more authorities to develop more transactions. I’m sure we’ll learn a lot as we do this, so we may change the plan as we go.

Its a technically simple project, but ambitious in its scope. The people, process and culture challenges will need to be understood. Conceptually though its simple enough to show it on a single picture.

Local GDS

 

The vision is to encourage all authorities provide their digital transaction data to a single GDS performance platform where it can be displayed in a consistent and comparative way.

The purpose and values include the following and will be developed and enhanced through the project.

  • Information rich digital service design
  • Process performance behaviour improvements
  • Service efficiency
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Transparency and open data
  • KPI / Benchmarks
  • Cost reduction
Other dashboards
There are many other dashboards of Local Government performance information. This digital transaction initiative is intended to support not replace them. For instance, in Solihull we run an “observatory” which presents statistical information about the borough. Many other authorities do the same. LGA Inform provides council performance dashboards relating to KPIs like employment rates, GCSE achievements and looked after children statistics.
The proposed digital transaction dashboard will simply add different and complimentary information to this landscape.
  
And then what?
The digital transaction dashboard for Local Government should help shape the way digital services are understood.

As well as this, its the learning that we will achieve from working together that I hope will be of particular value. The projects that follow from the dashboard are yet to be identified, of course. But we do expect that they will be well informed, becuase we will have learned from the dashboard project.

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