I am not sure I should be delivering all of the review…perhaps just a quarter of it, as Tom Baker was Chair of the Partnership until December 2012 when he left Sunderland for Norfolk County Council.
As the incoming Chair and Durham County Council representative, 2012/13 certainly was a significant year me, and I believe, for the Partnership.
- Expanded the Partnership, embracing Durham and Northumberland as full Partners
- Extended our local networks, holding discussions with other public sector organisations in the LEP area, about ICT Security, PSN and greater collaboration between organisations and with the wider digital community through Digital Union and SOCITMNE.
- Built on our national networks with the Cabinet Office, the Local CIO Council, Local Data Panel, Microsoft Shared Learning Group and the Technology Strategy Board.
- Shared experience and work done to date on initiatives such as mobile working policies and mobile device management
- Commenced detailed discussions about co-delivering some ICT services
- Developed ideas around the future provision of ICT services to councils in the region
We also faced continued challenges:
- Continued pressure on staffing and financial resources
- Increased pace of organisational change and building rationalisation programmes
- Further challenges posed by outsourcing ICT operations
- Increased responsibility for curriculum networks and schools services to ICT
- Sustained pressure to enable access to corporate data and services on portable devices such as tablets and mobile phones
- Pressure to implement infrastructure to support new service delivery models
- Change in representation from a number of Partners
Identifying and delivering joint initiatives that can ease common issues and address the common challenges that we are facing with capacity, capability and our ability to help our organisations respond to change will be key to the success of the Partnership in the coming years.
Resources to support the Partnership remain secure – a financial plan to March 2014 remains in place, securing the Partnership Analyst as a full time resource. A healthy balance remains available to support new collaborative initiatives; a revised Partnership Agreement incorporating Durham County Council and Northumberland County Council is being developed along with a financial plan to 2016.
In 2012-13, ten Partnership meetings were held, plus an AGM. Most of the meetings were held at Sunderland ICT Unit. Significantly, a first wider meeting to which representatives of emergency services, health and academia were invited was held, at Morpeth County Hall.
Specially convened workshops and meetings of our sub groups, enabling heads of IT and middle managers to share good practice, explore joint working and mutual support, and keep track of developments in policy and technology were also held. In particular, the Security Group continues to provide a forum for discussing concerns and sharing information about procedures.
To ensure the Partnership’s activities reflect and support local priorities we reviewed our work programme and reprioritised initiatives.
Through the Partnership we jointly considered a wide range of subjects, including:
To develop new, and exploit existing, ICT infrastructure and applications.
To grow, share and develop knowledge, experience, skills and professionalism within the ICT community
To maximise opportunities for jointly procuring ICT goods and services
To help shape the use of ICT in the North East for the benefit of the residents, people who work here and those who visit the region.
I believe that the NEICT has a role to play in developing and supporting ICT across the region and that we have the will and determination within the group to make a difference. I would like to thank Tom Baker for chairing the Partnership until December 2012 and colleagues for their continued enthusiasm and support, in particular colleagues from our outsourced Partners, South Tyneside and North Tyneside councils.
Finally, I would also like to thank colleagues in our Lead Authority (Sunderland City Council) ICT and Finance departments for helping with the smooth running of the Partnership, Chris Foreman of Sunderland ICT for supporting our website and Graham Jordan, our Partnership Analyst.