(A report by James Gilbert, Assistant Director – Corporate)
Portfolio Holder: Councillor Paul Skinner, Leader of the Council
The Portfolio Holder and Leader of the Council presented the report which he advised brought forward the Digital Strategy and ICT Roadmap for the South & East Lincolnshire Councils Partnership. The strategy would replace the existing ICT/Digital Strategies in each Partnership Council.
When the South & East Lincolnshire Councils Partnership had been formed, the Business Case approved by the Council had identified key areas of activity to be taken forward to facilitate the Partnership ambitions in relation to improve services to communities and greater services efficiency.
The Society for Innovation, Technology and Modernisation (SOCITM) had been commissioned jointly by the three Councils to review the Partnership’s strategic direction for digital, data and technology and to develop a joint Digital Strategy and ICT Roadmap for the Partnership Councils and PSPS.
The ICT Roadmap that sat alongside the Digital Strategy provides a number of immediate priority areas for the Partnership to focus on to bring together its ICT provision.
The strategy recognised that bringing all ICT together across the Partnership was a long-term ambition and could not be achieved quickly. Across the Partnership Councils there were already several common – and significant – ICT platforms (HR, Finance, as examples) in place and over time it should be possible to align process and systems creating opportunities to deliver efficiency savings and single service teams Partnership-wide.
In conclusion the Portfolio Holder said that the report was crucial and the need for a single approach to ICT was identified in the LGA Peer Review in 2022. The Council did need to be moving towards the Cloud, hosted where appropriate, including for Microsoft 365. It would enable all three authorities to align technology as whilst they currently used similar systems, there were differentials. Alignment would improve the use of ICT for all officers and in particular those who worked across the three authorities allowing them to use the same system for each authority.
Councillor comment and questioning followed which included:
There was support by all Cabinet members of the report, who agreed that it was the best way forward to ensure having the best technology and best value for money with having the advantage of scale within the project. Members further acknowledged the benefit of having a glossary available and also the provision of being able to see when a system was due to expire enabling time to consider any possible alignment when replacement was due.
Referencing the support provided by the Society for Innovation, Technology and Modernisation a member asked what the cost had been for that work and was advised that the cost had been £46,000 funded on the MOA spilt with Boston paying 23% of the charge.
A further question referenced the £175,000 grant recently awarded and sought clarification of when it had been received, the Assistant Director – Corporate confirmed that the funding from the Government had been received for cyber resilience and came in around October / November 2022 and would be used to strengthen the ICT infrastructure and cyber resilience across the partnership.
Confirmation was further provided that the £46,000 for the report had not been part of the £175,000 grant. The £46,000 had been funded from reserves.
Responding to a question in respect of the membership of the ICT Strategy Board, the Assistant Director – Corporate advised that the meetings were chaired by the Deputy Chief Executive – Corporate Development, supported by the Assistant Director – Corporate and other officers included the Group Manager - Insights and Transformation and the Group Manager - Information Management. In addition, any relevant officer with an interest in the business on the agenda would be able to attend that relevant meeting.
Addressing the spread sheet which sets out the online forms for each Council that are currently available, a member asked if there was any update to the information, noting that the data thereon was from 2022. The Assistant Director – Corporate advised that he felt there was no current update to information but assured members that would change once all authorities were using Goss which created opportunities for more online transactions/alignment across the partnership.
Note the findings of the Joint Scrutiny Task Group.