Saturday, 9 April 2016

How could digital service assessments work for local government?

Yesterday two things happened I was very glad to be part of.  OK, there were actually three, the last being a discussion on how we could expand on this Civic Starter idea, but that's for another post.

The first was publishing the Local Government Digital Service Standard (LGDSS) and the second was taking part in a service assessment of two of Buckinghamshire County Council's exemplar digital services.

I was really happy to be asked by Matthew Cain and he and his team can be proud of what they're doing for the residents of their county. You can read what Matthew thought about it here, and this piece isn't just about the assessment, but how assessments of council digital services against the LGDSS could work.

It's worth saying my credentials as a service assessor consist of reading about service assessments onlineobserving a single Service Assessment at the Government Digital Service (GDS) and knowing a bit about delivering digital services for a council. I wouldn't ever put ever put myself in the same class as someone who does it as their day job.

I think there are two roles that could be incorporated into the LGDSS assessment process:

Full Time Assessor

This tweet fits with what quite a few people I've talked to have said, why couldn't high volume local government services be assessed by central government assessors:
Would any local government services tip over the 100,000 mark to warrant this? Hardly any individually per council, but when you think how many school place applications, council tax payments, planning permission applications and so on happen across the country I bet these are in the millions.

Add to this that councils tend to procure the same digital services from a small number of vendors and it then seems not such a mammoth task. Of course it would be down to GDS whether this is something they wanted to do, but it would certainly create a more joined up approach to the big local government services we'll probably use at some time in our lives.

Full time assessors could be complimented by:

Peer Reviewers

As said previously, I'm not an assessor but for digital services with both large and medium transaction numbers I think there's scope for peer reviewers to take part. LocalGov Digital will be looking to set up regional peer networks to facilitate the introduction of the Standard in councils, and these could also help form peer review panels.

This works two ways too. Yesterday I learnt a lot from taking part in the assessment, just little things like users prefer a satellite view over a road view of a map for reporting problems. It's free advice like this will that help me and my team build better services for the people I serve and justifies the time I spent on the assessment for another council.

I'm really interested to get opinion on this. Matthew and team are among those leading the way with digital service assessment in councils but is this happening elsewhere, and how do we build on their approach and roll it out across the country?

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.