Local authority leaders in Wales have welcomed an announcement that the Welsh government will pay £500,000 per year towards the cost of a local government digital officer.
The Chief Digital Officer for Local Government (CDOLG) will identify, share, promote and champion a joined up approach to digital initiatives and their delivery across local government.
‘The Chief Digital Officer will provide leadership for digital transformation in local government, build and grow on the good work that’s already underway, and support local government to build capacity and capability to take forward innovative technology and data-led approaches to service delivery and public engagement,’ said Julie James AM, minister for housing and local government.
‘I see this firmly as a sector-led, and owned, approach which the Welsh Government is happy to be able to provide funding in support of.’
The Chief Digital Officer will be hosted by the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) and overseen by their Digital Advisory Group made up of WLGA Members, SOLACE, SOCITM, other professionals and stakeholders.
The funding will be for an initial period of three years to allow time for the CDOLG to be appointed and identify priorities.
Cllr Peter Fox, a WLGA spokesperson for digital and innovation, welcomed the announcement.
‘We welcome this commitment from Welsh government which will help to co-ordinate WLGA and councils’ efforts to use digital technology to transform local services’, he said.
‘Digital change is all about harnessing technology to solve problems, and to design resident-centred services. Our residents are making increasing use of digital technology which not only has changed the way people interact with each other, but also the way they expect to interact with businesses and public services.’
‘Local authorities have taken big steps in recent years in the development and deployment of digital solutions within their services, including several collaborative projects involving chatbots, webcasting, remote working, apps and virtual reality,’ he continued.
‘However, there is still more to do to ensure greater consistency and coordination of digital technology to ensure public services continue to transform and meet the expectations and needs of citizens now and into the future.
‘I look forward to seeing how this investment, along with a commitment from all councils, will help to deliver a more ambitious and consistent approach to digital transformation and to promote better engagement with residents.’