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Transforming for a digital future

Illustration of people sitting and standing around a person-sized laptop. On the screen of the laptop a woman is holding a giant pen.

Government’s 2022 to 25 roadmap for digital and data

Socitm says

Interesting to read this week updates to the Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO) Roadmap. 

The plan sets out six missions and a trio of ambitions for the use of digital technology and data in central government and other parts of the public sector. 

While we welcome the direction of travel, the six missions are highly central government focused. As a result, the ambition falls sadly short, in our view, in creating a vision and roadmap for harnessing digital technology and data to improve the lives of people, and to enhance the wellbeing of communities and places.

 The detail primarily concentrates on three key aspects: usability, compliance, and efficiency. While these are undoubtedly important elements of any digital delivery strategy, the absence of attention on creating resilient people, communities, and places is a notable gap. 

Digital services have a profound impact on people and places. Focusing narrowly on the selected three aspects fails to capture the full range of social and environmental benefits that digital initiatives can have.  

For example, a resilient approach would consider the broader community and societal implications of digital innovation. Which community stakeholders are brought into co-design services? Which charitable organisations can offer advice? How do you make sure strategy for equality, diversity, and inclusion goes beyond a web accessibility box ticking exercise to include everyone?  

An exclusive focus on usability, compliance, and efficiency neglects these crucial relationships and partnerships. 

The work Socitm is championing shows the positive impact that local government achieves in creating resilient people, communities, and places. We have numerous case studies to demonstrate how integrating strategies that enhance adaptability, risk management, long-term sustainability, community impact, innovation, and stakeholder engagement are enhancing the communities people live and work.  

Both during and beyond the Covid pandemic, we have seen time and again how local public services deliver ground breaking solutions to support local communities. We have worked together with our partners at the Local Government Association and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers to establish a robust set of 12 local digitalisation outcomes. As highlighted by our recent effective digital leadership infographic, the ability to work across sectors is key to delivering sustainable digital transformation and should be a key feature of central-local working on these issues going forward. 

Likewise, the focus on skills development in the roadmap is welcome but it is still too narrowly focused. Digital capabilities and skills need to challenge centralised thinking so that participants can hone their skillset to inspire people and places to be better through effective and lasting change. This can only be achieved if we look to ground such upskilling in a wider place-based understanding achieving better outcomes for people and communities across their place. 

 Unfortunately, the new roadmap falls short of the mark and fails to seize the opportunity to build on local public sector innovation and creativity. It misses the opportunity to establish pan-public sector partnership working to deliver real digital transformation that not only will address issues like usability, standards compliance, cost-effectiveness and efficiency but would look to creating inclusive and resilient people, communities and places. 

This is the Socitm view. What is yours? Have your say: