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A centrally-funded Local Government Digital Service is needed to truly transform online local government, says council IT managers' association Socitm.

A centrally-funded Local Government Digital Service is needed to truly transform online local government, says council IT managers' association Socitm.

It says a "properly funded local digital service", and "more empowered" in-house digital teams are "much more likely" to reduce waste and duplication and deliver a better online user experience.

This is the conclusion of "Collaborating and sharing digital assets: towards a local government digital service?", the latest briefing from Socitm. The briefing is the second in a series, part one of which set out why trying to create a single local government website was "not a sensible or achievable approach".

According to Socitm, relying upon volunteer, grass roots activism (like the LocalGov Digital initiative), and subscription-based membership models (like Socitm or Looking Local), are "unlikely to deliver digital transformation at scale within the sector".

"It is equally unrealistic to expect a sector where there is a history of patchy implementation of digital, and where funding is extremely tight, to change its approach suddenly without some sort of financial kick-start," says the briefing.

It added: "In central government, the GDS (Government Digital Service) has been heavily funded to create digital transformation. Socitm sees a LGDS (Local Government Digital Service) as a team of advisors available to support top teams in local authorities in implementing digital strategies and associated transformational change."

An LGDS would also "help identify and promote best practice and opportunities for sharing digital assets, including those already developed by the existing GDS."

Unlike the GDS, an LGDS, said Socitm, would not be the primary source of systems development, although there may be opportunities for key shared transactions to be co-created through the team, with a view to their integration into local solutions.

Digital development would continue to take place in, or be commissioned by digital teams in each local authority, "drawing on sharable transaction code as appropriate".