A new report has concluded that UK councils need to reform their management structures, contracting procedures and networks in order to catch up with central government ICT services.
The New Local Government Network (NLGN) think tank released the study and claim that many local authorities are improving their digital skills in an attempt to deliver better outcomes in a more cost-efficient manner.
However, the research says authorities across the country are still far behind Whitehall and councils in the USA, meaning the full potential of digital remains undiscovered.
“While there is much good practice in existence, we have seen how the full potential of digital technology is still untapped by councils,” claimed NLGN.
Through roundtables and interviews, the network was able to find that many local authorities lack confidence in investing in new technology and so have not always done so effectively.
Those polled cited inadequate skills, organisational culture and leadership as the reasons why many councils struggle to define the outcomes required of digital solutions.
“Often new solutions are not informed by the real needs of citizens and councils fall into the trap of prioritising efficiency over customer journey process mapping,” said the report.
“As a result, digital solutions such as online transactions are simply ‘tacked on’ to existing services rather than being part of a full service redesign in which the potential of digital is matched to the behaviour and needs of users – both citizens and staff – throughout the process,” it added.
The NLGN have called for a number of solutions to enable local government to catch up in the digital world, including a leadership environment where digital is core to all business and a digital skills programme which will raise profiles and attract skilled graduates.