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Scottish local government appoints CDO and CTO

Chief digital officer and chief technology officer will drive forward the digital transformation strategy of 27 Scottish councils

A group of 27 Scottish councils have appointed a chief digital officer (CDO) and chief technology officer (CTO) to drive the digital agenda for local services.

The new CDO, Martyn Wallace, and CTO, Colin Birchenall, will take up their posts at the newly created Local Government Digital Office this month.

The digital office aims to become a centre of excellence for data, technology and digital, and will help the 27 councils to transform their services.

The councils’ joint IT strategy has already been approved by the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and the Local Government Digital Transformation Board, and the authorities have pooled their resources and budgets to fund a digital team for the next three years. 

They set out to recruit for the leadership roles in May, seeking people who could turn the strategy into actions that would have an immediate impact and set a long-term direction for local government in Scotland.

Lorraine McMillian, CEO of East Renfrewshire Council and chair of the Scottish Local Government Digital Transformation Board, said: “We must ensure we continue to innovate to be at the cutting edge of technologies which make it easier to serve our communities.

“We are looking forward to having this new digital office, which will help Scottish councils to be ahead of the game, to be as agile and effective as possible in this ever-changing digital world and we hope, ultimately, that we will ensure that we continue to meet the needs of our increasingly technologically and digitally savvy citizens.”

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Wallace, the new CDO, is a self-proclaimed digital evangelist with 16 years’ experience in IT and telecoms, having spent a large part of his career at O2. He currently works as a digital consultant and sales manager for Capita Secure Digital Solutions.

“There is a whole world of untapped data in our local authorities that can be unlocked and used to start small, think big and move fast in driving a significant culture shift in how we can facilitate and deliver services while driving better outcomes for  users,” he said.

Birchenall, the new CTO, currently works at Serco, where he has led the ICT strategy for Glasgow City Council within its joint venture programme.

He said he wanted to create an environment for open innovation “where we all have a stake in our digital future, where we empower people to innovate collaboratively to deliver better outcomes for our residents and provide new economic opportunities for businesses”. 

Birchenall added: “We are entering a new era of the information age. Digital is no longer just about online services. Digital technology is available to us wherever we are, at any time, and is becoming increasingly intelligent and embedded within everyday objects, such as smart watches, smart thermostats, smart light bulbs.

“This provides local government with an unprecedented opportunity to reimage and redesign how services are provided.” ....................................

The Local Government Digital Office will also work with partners such as the Scottish government, Socitm and the NHS. ....................................

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