Posted by: kenwbudd | June 4, 2010

The Future of Local Government

The Drivers
There are huge pressures on Local Government to link services and deliver a shared provision. This isn’t just between neighbouring councils, we are seeing a real push towards regional and national shared service providers. In addition, we are seeing links to 3rd sector agencies to provide and deliver public services.

The Cloud
The cloud is having a big impact on ICT services in councils and it is clear that the level of transformation required to cope with this, will require additional investment in ICT but it is unlikely that a single council could justify the spend on its own. Therefore, we would need to look at a shared arrangement for regional and national cloud services, possibly a public sector cloud. Here the Government Cloud is driving people’s thinking and will have a head start in this area, if it is managed properly.

Budget
Financial pressures on councils is making them seriously consider what services they can afford and establish priority levels for their specific local areas. Total Place will drive an approach which will inevitably bring 3rd sector and communities themselves to the table as service providers in some instances.

Directgov
Central Government’s apparent success with Directgov will be used as a model for local government, to drive out efficiencies and to provide efficiency benefits and cost savings for local government transactional services. This will be achieved, either through an enhanced LocalDirectgov portal or directly offered through Directgov but there will be close links needed, whatever happens.

Transparency
The drive for transparency and an open data policy, will allow a greater level of local innovation by social innovators and entrepreneurs and in some instances delivering council services directly, in a more usable and useful way.

A greater push for more local involvement in decision-making and greater transparency to enable citizens to provide scrutiny and shape services directly.

The Impact
What this essentially does is completely break down local government and disbands the silo mentality of individual organisations who are unconnected, uncoordinated and in many cases duplicating functions.

The Local Service Provision
This future vision sees the only aspect of local government to remain local is the ‘last mile’, or the actual service delivery and decision making. The organisation behind it will be held in the cloud; a mix of closely linked, local, regional, national and cloud based services all supporting an individual worker, to deliver a service to someone in a community. The worker in question may be an independant trader or part of an outsourced agreement, under the control of the local, regional or national government, facilitated via the cloud but not directly employed by the council,

Benefits
This will imply that local government will become simply the conceptual, and management control layer, allowing greater transparency and openness, radical approaches to service delivery and support services. Therefore, the only aspect of local government that needs to be focussed on will be the People in the Community.

This will be a difficult path to walk, a political hot potato in most areas and would need to bring forward a great outcome. If successful, and if properly controlled and implemented, this approach could help to drive out the inefficiencies in local government and offer greater local involvement in service design and creation.

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