Sunday, 21 February 2016

Building a standard for digital and design

As you may have read, we've been working with the Government Digital Service (GDS) to build a standard for digital and design in local government.

Who's we? A collection of councils bought together through LocalGov Digital.

Incidentally, I think 2016 will be the year local government digital teams start working more closely with GDS (and I've purposely phrased it this way) around common services, standards and registers, but that's topic for another post.

What's the benefit of working to a common standard you might ask:
  • Where services are produced by councils it enables peer review, similar to a Digital by Default Assessment.
  • Where services are procured by councils it enables collective bargaining power. A group of councils working to the same standard speak much louder than one, empowering them to stand up for the user and demand products and services they purchase meet user need.
  • It enables greater collaboration, with groups of councils working on common services, to a common, user centred standard.
The short of it is better, cheaper services for the user, whether built or procured.

So where are we at with this?

Following an initial debate on our Trello board and through our Slack team we're almost ready to propose a draft standard for wider discussion. This means taking the Digital by Default Service Standard and amending it slightly because some points aren't applicable to councils. For example, councils don't have ministers, so
Test the service from beginning to end with the minister responsible for it.
doesn't work in that form. There's also nothing about re-use of common data or registers in the Digital by Default Service Standard, something that will become increasingly relevant in the coming year.

If you work for a council I urge you to get involved to help deliver, not a business case or a nudge in the right direction, but the first Local Government Digital Service Standard for councils. The more of us that do, the stronger it will be which can only be a good thing for the people we serve.

Please do so by tweeting @LocalGovDigital or emailing

This blog is written by Phil Rumens, Vice-Chair of LocalGov Digital, lead for LGMakers and who manages the digital services team at a local authority in England.

The opinions expressed in this weblog are my own personal views and in no way represent any organisation I may have worked for, currently work for, might be thinking of working for, might not be thinking of working for or have never worked for. In fact having said that they, might not even be my views any more as I might have changed my mind so I wouldn't take any of it too seriously.