The Society of IT Management (Socitm) believes the Service Transformation Agreement published with the chancellor’s pre-budget report last week will “breathe new life” into the government’s agenda to use technology improve public services.
The new agreement includes a series of measures already outlined in the Transformational Government strategy published by the Cabinet Office and last year’s Varney review. But the fact that implementation will now be overseen at a political level by minister for the Cabinet Office Ed Miliband and the chief secretary to the Treasury, Andy Burnham, suggests a beefed up status for the programme.
Speaking at Socitm’s annual conference in Belfast, the organisation’s president Rose Crozier said: “We welcome the fact that the Service Transformation Agreement fully acknowledges the role of local government in transforming public services.”
She added: “We are delighted that local government has been named as the lead on transformation for face-to-face services, and we welcome the establishment of the Local Government Delivery Council (LGDC). Socitm is seeking a meeting with the LGDC at an early stage to work out how it can best support delivery of the STA within local government.”
Birmingham council assistant chief executive Glyn Evans, who leads Socitm’s work on the service transformation agenda and is a member of the LGDC, welcomed the target to reduce people’s “avoidable contact” time with public services by 50% by 2011 as a helpful measure. Alongside the 3% efficiency savings target outlined in the comprehensive spending review, this would drive the move towards more web-based and telephone contact between councils and their local residents.
But he added: “What is most important, however, is we that we focus our efforts on driving up the levels of customer satisfaction with the services we provide. That is the real end game.”
Socitm will be carrying out work to help councils meet the requirements of the STA, particularly measuring and reducing “avoidable contact” – a target that will be monitored on a quarterly basis.