What is LocalGov Digital?
LocalGov Digital has been in existence since 2012 as a network of digital professionals working in the public sector. Its core ethos has been “Think. Share. Do” to describe the exchange of knowledge and spirit of collaboration it enshrines. Oxford has been a contributing member of the network since early 2016.
This year has seen LocalGov Digital work together on creating a shared Local Government Digital Service Standard as a means to guide the development of digital services for the public, based largely on the success and learning of the Government Digital Service. Not only has this galvanised the network, it is also leading to interest from suppliers keen to work alongside local government on its digital transformation journey.
Oxford City has adopted the Service Standard as part of its Digital Strategy, and our Digital Design Standards also use this to alert potential suppliers to how we want to work with them in the future.
This year also saw the creation of a network of LocalGov Digital Peer Groups across the country for councils to get together in person and work out new ways to collaborate and support each other. Groups have so far been established in London, the Midlands and the South West.
Oxford, along with Buckinghamshire County Council, was asked to take the lead in establishing a Peer Group for the South, covering 34 councils in Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Hampshire as well as neighbouring unitaries.
South Peer Group initial meeting
The first meeting of the South Peer Group took place on 25 November 2016. View the Flickr photoset to see more.
The event kicked off with an introduction from Councillor John Chilver, Cabinet Member for Finance, who outlined the importance of the Service Standard in Buckinghamshire in delivering value for money and highlighted its focus on user need.
As well as discussing the benefits of the Digital Service Standard, the Group talked about some of the challenges and approaches to bring it into wider use, along with how to engage with suppliers and encourage them to help us meet its principles.
Five ideas came out of the discussions that were put forward as potential initiatives for the Group (and for LocalGov Digital nationally) to look at:
- Developing a ‘TripAdvisor’ rating system of suppliers to give councils an easy way to assess how well they help or hinder compliance with the Service Standard.
- Creating a set of shared assets for working to and promoting the Service Standard.
- Creating a ‘time bank’ of digital skills, where one council can call on a number of others to help in an area it lacks skills (e.g. user research) on a reciprocal arrangement for donating their time/skills in an area they are stronger in.
- Having Supplier Scrutiny days, where councils that share a common supplier can select decide on three areas of common need and present a united voice to the supplier with an aim to have those needs met.
- A LocalGov Digital ‘marketplace’ to crowd source the specification for a technology capability that can then be procured with more than one council in mind.
Of these ideas, the Group voted for two to be taken forward: the time bank and the supplier scrutiny days. Oxford has agreed to lead on the first of the scrutiny days as it has a local requirement from its councillors to review its public planning interface, and also has a supplier common to a number of councils.
In wrapping up the sessions the Group agreed to:
- Meet again in 3 months (West Berks have offered to host).
- Work on a set of themed sessions for future events, and invite service colleagues to participate in these.
- Invite a small number of smaller suppliers to a future session to encourage them to work more closely with the Service Standard, and review afterwards if this should be continued.
- Set up a Slack channel for the Group to continue sharing thoughts and help plan for the next meeting.