Steve Palmer, president of Socitm, the society of information technology management, has called on local government CIOs to focus on business leadership in order to help transform council services.
Addressing the Socitm president's dinner, he said, "He said that the outlook for public sector IT would remain challenging. particulary given the financial pressure to reduce costs, and competition coming in from the developing world.
Palmer said the role of the public sector CIO needed to focus on strategy of transformation. "ICT has been siloed as a support function rather than a business enabler. We need to be business leaders and champion business partnerships."
One of the major areas of change is in council websites, which increasingly need to offer online access to local government services. Socitm Insight, the organisation's research and consulting arm, has proposed a rating system for council websites to take into account usabiity, usefulness and support for different ways of accessing services.
"The UK government sector is unprepared for the internet. We need a culture of innovation," he said.
According to Socitm Insight, the rapid growth in the use of mobile devices for accessing websites (the 'mobile web') makes it essential that websites be designed to be used by all such devices. Second, to support online servcies, council websites need to be fully integrated into the back office and not involve the information becoming an e-mail, or even worse a piece of paper that has to be processed in the traditional way. Third, Socitm Insight, believes social media has the potential for much greater citizen engagement which may lead to a new generation of websites.