Latest Public Sector News

28.01.16

Civil servants highlight data disconnect with local government

Most civil servants at central government departments are still failing to properly share data with councils, despite the calls for greater collaboration, according to new research. 

A study of 4,400 UK civil servants, conducted by IT firm CGI, revealed that in December 2015, more than 70% of respondents said they share data with other central government departments. 

However, only 31% said they share data with local government organisations, 29% with the third sector and 26% with the private sector. 

According to almost half the respondents, the biggest barrier to further data sharing by government is the risk of cyber security breaches. Other top barriers to data sharing include a ‘lack of interoperable systems’ at 38% and the challenge posed by ‘poor quality data from other organisations’ at 33%. 

Last year, a Socitm IT Trends survey revealed that cloud computing is already in use or being piloted at about 90% of local public service providers. However, nearly half of respondents said there are applications or IT services for which they would not use a cloud services provider, with 70% citing data protection as having an inhibiting effect. 

The latest CGI study did reveal, however, that collaboration (83%) and digital transformation (82%) are the two top priorities for civil servants, in line with the priorities set out in the chancellor’s recent Spending Review.

But as PSE reported at the time, Socitm said the government’s decision to invest £1.8bn in digital transformation is too “Whitehall-centric and is limited in its aspiration”. 

Steve Thorn, SVP public sector at CGI, said: “During the Spending Review the chancellor lent support to both digital technologies and greater collaboration as critical approaches to achieving transformation across the public sector. 

“However, this research clearly demonstrates that more needs to be done to foster data sharing within the public sector if we are to deliver on the efficiency opportunities presented by greater collaboration. Sharing data within Whitehall is to be encouraged but it’s only half the battle, local government organisations need to be a key part of the action too.”

Comments

Jane Roberts   28/01/2016 at 12:39

There’s a definite link here between the failure to collaborate with other departments and data protection. Seek a solution to the security conundrum and collaboration will follow. For that to happened we need encryption of data both in transit and at rest but it needs to be designed to meet the stringent security needs of government. For certain data sets only key-based encryption will do with clear key management to determine where the keys are held. Apply encryption sensitively and you’ll allay fears over the sharing of data enabling disparate government departments and local councils to pool and share their knowledge

Peter Grogan   01/02/2016 at 13:30

The Government disconnect with Local Councils will be accentuated with the loss of GCSx mail by 2018. The Government must provide an accredited alternative for secure email to link the old secure networks in Central Govt, LAs, Police, Justice and Health.

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