SOCITM (Society of Information Technology Management)
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Detailed version of Planting the Flag: the Strategy for ICT-enabled local public services reform, published by Socitm

Socitm has published the full version of Planting the Flag: the Strategy for ICT-enabled local public services reform following launch of the summary version at the Socitm Spring Conference on May 11.

Planting the Flag is a Local CIO Council initiative led by Socitm's Futures group. It sets out how technology can enable public service reform across the whole range of local services
and deliver significant savings and better outcomes for people where they live and work.

The full version of Planting the Flag is for CIOs, Heads of ICT, ICT specialists, and private sector ICT suppliers to local public services. Section one of the document sets out three core principles for reform of local public services - collaborate, redesign and innovate. Section two sets out six strategic capabilities (leadership, governance, organisational change, strategic commissioning, shared services and professionalism) and and section three, six key information and technology issues that will determine success. For each of these capabilities and issues the Strategy:
  • describes the desired scenario in five years time
  • sets out what needs to change and why
  • demonstrates how change can be achieved
  • states what key players - principally local CEOs, CFOs and CIOs - need to do now to start the process of change.

Publication of the full document marks the beginning of Planning the Route, the second phase in the development of the Strategy, that will involve working with partners at the regional and sub-regional levels to develop more detailed plans to turn the vision into practical reality on the ground.

Discussions have already started with local authority bodies SOLACE (chief executives) and CIPFA (finance directors) about workshops and other supporting activities and guidance to make this happen. On 15 June the Local CIO Council will discuss the campaign that is being developed to take the initiative forward at regional and sub-regional levels, and on 17 June the first of Socitm's regional group meetings, expected to play key role in Planning the Route, will take place. Local plans will be brought together at the three day Socitm Annual Conference that begins in Birmingham on 29 November.

Planting the Flag has been endorsed by Government CIO Joe Harley who writes in the document:

'.... the themes contained in Planting the Flag rise to the challenge of delivery of improved services while at the same time cutting costs. We must also continue to innovate, adopting new processes and developing new products to meet the growing challenges faced by the public sector. The core themes of 'Planting the Flag': sharing and re-using our assets, simplifying and standardising our services and empowering citizens and communities, are also fully aligned with the actions highlighted in our central Government ICT Strategy. I look forward to forging a close working relationship with local government colleagues as we harness the opportunities of our joint agendas.'

The six key information and technology issues identified in the document as key to redesigning better local public services for less, are:

  • Business change - because information and technology are necessary, but not sufficient, for the scale of change required of local public services. Strategies and policies should be developed for designing and implementing new operating models cross local public services that are sensitive to local circumstances and co-produced with partners and service users. New approaches to risk and value management and to multi-partner change governance should be explored and best practice shared.
  • Digital access and inclusion - because processes and information systems should be designed assuming digital access 'by default' for citizens and employees. Local public service organisations should publish data to open standards to allow third parties to use it to deliver applications and services. Strategies and policies for exploiting social media and networking tools should be developed to support citizen engagement and service delivery. Digital literacy programmes should be joined-up across "place" and offered to both employees and citizens.
  • Local public services infrastructure - because local public service organisations should be moving towards shared ICT infrastructure, contracts and support arrangements, starting with converged public sector networks and the rationalisation and sharing of data centres. Technologies should be implemented to allow staff to work securely anytime, anyplace, anywhere and from most devices - including personally owned consumer devices. Business processes should be standardised and automated where possible to minimise system implementation and maintenance costs. Information systems should work to open and agreed standards and their specification should enable internal and external interoperability.
  • Information governance - because efficient, effective, local public services depend on fast, secure access by authorised personnel to 'a single version of the truth' about people, assets, finance, service usage and performance. Changes to current practice are needed across public services in information governance, architecture and responsibilities.
  • Information management, assurance and transparency - because most managers do not recognise the value of information or appreciate the importance of its quality. Failure to share and a tendency to duplicate information across local public services are endemic and there is no common, local public services security framework. Release of 'public' information (i.e. information without privacy or state security issues) is not routine.
  • ICT polices of central government departments - because these affect the efficiency of local public services. Common information assurance approaches and standards, especially around health services, are needed, and mandating all public service organisations to move to the proposed Public Sector Network would usefully standardise networks and services. A single identity management and verification standard for employees and citizens to access all government services (excluding the highest levels) would also help, as would the application of appropriate levels of information assurance management for local public services delivery, based on associated threats or risks.

The Strategy is the result of open and wide consultation across the public, private, and civil society sectors, including central government colleagues and the ICT industry. Its approach is deliberately 'pan-local', covering public service provision regionally and sub-regionally through local authorities, emergency services, health, education, and the civil society sector.

Copies of the Planting the Flag are available from

Further information

Martin Ferguson
07931 456238
Head of Policy, Socitm

Vicky Sargent
07726 601 139
Socitm Press Office

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