A new report suggests that joining up across departments can save money, create efficiency and save public organisations from being swamped with data. The Accounts Commission, which is responsible for overseeing the
audit of councils, boards and NHS organisations in Scotland, says that councils need to improve the way they manage data and information.
In its latest management paper ‘Common data, common sense: modernising information management in councils’, the Accounts Commission says that councils will need to make better use of information and communications technology (ICT) to assist them to deliver improved quality services at reduced cost. It says that while councils are now reliant upon ICT, different departments hold large volumes similar data in many different systems. Such duplication means higher costs than necessary and problems with keeping such a library of information up to date.
The paper sets out the steps that all councils should be taking to enable data to be shared. These include information audits to build a clear understanding of the information actually needed and held, establishing standard systems so that data can be shared easily, and developing customer accounts, so that information about a customer of the council can be accessed at a single point of entry. The paper is aimed at chief officers and members, as the Accounts Commission says strong leadership and commitment from the top will be crucial in ensuring that councils exploit the use of ICT in improving their management of information.