April 9, 2014
A new report claims that the UK’s local authorities are not only lagging behind the rest of the world in their use of digital technology but in some areas their development has stalled completely, despite significant investment. The report, Smart People, Smart Places from the New Local Government Network claims that ‘whilst there is much good practice emerging, councils sometimes struggle to fully unlock the benefits of technologies that they do invest in [because] they are often uncomfortable, and risk averse.’ While it acknowledges that the problem does not apply to every council, with some showing exemplary thinking in certain areas, it also paints a general picture of organisations unable and unwilling to make the most of the technology in which they invest, lacking vision and leadership and intimidated by change.
The report suggests that the problem isn’t universal in the UK public sector, because local government is lagging significantly behind Whitehall in its use of digital technology for procurement, delivery of services, skills development and environmentally friendly working practices, including the use of digital technology to communicate as a way of saving both time and money.
The conclusion is that local authorities are not being constrained by budgets but by their culture and attitudes so need to step up their game not only to take advantage of the benefits offered by digital technology but also risk being seen as outdated and irrelevant.