Headlines: October 4th, 2002

Local authorities should be doing more to improve the performance of their ICT services and to ensure that they are exploiting the technology fully to their advantage.Those are the conclusion of a report from the Society of Computing and Technology Managers which has examined the performance of ICT services in best value reviews. It says while these show there are good prospects of improvement, councils should be doing much more.

The report – ‘Going Up?’ is based on a study of all 76 best value inspections in England and Wales. Of these, 54, resulted in an assessment that was only poor or fair. None was rated as excellent.

The report says although the most common outcome was that the services provided were fair and likely to get better councils should not be satisfied with this for two reasons. Firstly it says the advent of the Comprehensive Performance Assessment regime will focus attention in local councils and lead to questions on how well they are using technology to drive up performance, leading to higher expectations. Secondly the opportunities for local E-Government are raising the profile and importance of ICT services within local authorities.

Inspections have said the potential for improvement in IT services lies in integration with the business of the authority, understanding of the power and opportunity offered by ICT, balancing user demands with the service’s ability to deliver and better communication between technical staff and front line service providers.