Socitm rejects idea of GOV.UK for local government

Socitm has said that the idea of a single domain for local government is ‘ill-conceived and should not be attempted’.

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Socitm has said that the idea of a single domain for local government is ‘ill-conceived and should not be attempted’.

Responding to calls for a LOCALGOV.UK website that integrates information and services for all local government users, akin to GOV.UK for central government, Socitm said that the idea ‘sounds attractive’ but on closer inspection is ‘deeply flawed’.

In particular Socitm, which represents public sector IT managers, criticised the concept for breaking the direct relationship between the independent, democratically accountable local authorities and their constituents. The association also said that a single website would not be able to reflect the way that services are prioritised locally.

Socitm also claimed that ‘the logistics of not only developing and also sustaining a single local government website would be daunting’, and downplayed the cost savings that would result, saying that integration between the various systems, processes and providers would be expensive.

The idea, which has been under discussion in local government and digital circles for a couple of years, was included in Policy Exchange's 'Tech Manifesto' report earlier this month and examined at length by Rotheram Council’s IT head Richard Copley in a blog post at the start of this year. 

However, Socitm said that it ‘welcomes and actively supports’ the development of a common platform for sharing software tools and applications. The association added that it has a track record of advocating open standards that enable different software solutions to be interoperable and reusable for other purposes.

Socitm said that it welcomed an offer by the Government Digital Service (GDS) last year to allow GDS assets to be made available for re-use by local government and is currently working with the service on reusing its transactions reporting tools.    

Socitm president Nick Roberts said: ‘It’s not difficult to sign up to the idea that if there are transactions all local councils are operating, we only need to build once and share. In real life things are much more complicated, but the principle holds.

“We’d all welcome reducing dependence on proprietary systems and moving towards open source, publicly owned solutions and clearly GDS can support collaboration to evolve exemplar transactions.

“The key will be in using standard APIs to enable the integration of transaction code built once on a shared platform, say GOV.UK, with existing local authority platforms. Socitm is keenly engaged in this space.”

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