The Head of 3C ICT and the Lead Cabinet Member for Customer Services and Business Improvement were present for this agenda item and answered questions from committee members, some of which had been submitted in advance of the meeting. In response to these questions, the Lead Cabinet Member and Head of 3C ICT informed the committee of the following:
· The Head of 3C ICT was preparing a 100 day report on the ICT service, which would be published in due course.
· Recruitment to key roles in the ICT service would be undertaken; this would include a Deputy Head of 3C ICT and an Information Governance Manager.
· Committee members had raised concern about the fragility of the ICT environment and were informed that much of this was due to legacy equipment which ICT was in the process of moving way from. Old ICT systems were failing staff but the new Council Anywhere system, which was being rolled out to all staff, was enabling staff to work more effectively.
· Many recent ICT issues at South Cambridgeshire District Council had been caused by the telephony system which was very old and the incompatibility of this had caused significant network connectivity issues. Further work was needed to resolve these issues by replacing this equipment; this was a major project which had not yet been fully commissioned by SCDC. Once commissioned, ICT would ensure this was made a priority. As the project had not yet been commissioned, the Head of 3C ICT was not in a position to provide a timescale for the project.
· There had been a lack of continual investment in ICT by South Cambridgeshire District Council and work around risk assessment and the investment needed in ICT, had been lacking.
· The 3C ICT vision of buy once use three times was emphasised and the committee was informed that where possible, procurements were being done collectively across the three councils.
· The committee was informed that there was a consolidated asset register, which was being managed.
· In relation to the recent failure of the chiller system in the South Cambridgeshire Hall server room, which had led to an outage of ICT systems across the council, the committee was informed that this was not something for which 3C ICT was currently responsible as the server room was managed by South Cambridgeshire Facilities Management. The Head of 3C ICT explained that this failure had occurred during a weekend.
· The newly consolidated server room environments, such as the server room at Pathfinder House which 3C ICT managed, had monitoring equipment in place. The server room at South Cambridgeshire Hall, and the equipment within it, ought to be similarly monitored.
· In response to questions raised by committee members regarding the ICT issues referenced in the Customer Contact Centre Performance report to be considered during the next agenda item, the committee was informed that 3C ICT did not support the Benefits Calculator.
· The Head of 3C ICT was working on a risk register to identify all ICT risks and where responsibility for these lay; this would be published in due course. The committee welcomed this positive response to risk assessment but expressed surprise that the Benefits Calculator and South Cambridgeshire Hall server room, both of which were critical infrastructure, were not the responsibility of 3C ICT. The Head of 3C ICT would look into the Benefits Calculator.
· The rollout of Council Anywhere had been agreed with all three councils. This project did not include the replacement of South Cambridgeshire’s telephony equipment, which the Head of 3C ICT advised needed to be replaced.
In response to a query raised regarding problems being experienced with the audio visual equipment in the Council Chamber, the committee was informed that this was an issue for South Cambridgeshire to resolve and there was a project in place for this.
The Head of 3C ICT informed the committee that she would be happy to discuss with South Cambridgeshire’s Facilities Management Team, systems to monitor the South Cambridgeshire Hall server room.
Regarding progress on the governance of the Shared Services, the Lead Cabinet Member informed the committee that:
· The former Interim Executive Director had made good progress on this and this work was being continued by the Interim Finance Director.
· She had not yet been involved in any Management Board meetings.
· She had not yet seen much progress in member involvement in strategic discussions regarding 3C ICT.
· She suggested that the lack of accountability had been demonstrated by the recent South Cambridgeshire Hall server room issue, and that there were gaps which needed to be bridged.
· Good progress had been made with recharging and this work was continuing.
· The appetite for greater accountability and governance seemed to be unique to South Cambridgeshire District Council and was not reciprocated by the other partner councils.
· The Head of 3C ICT informed the committee that ICT problems had been more acute at SCDC due to the issues with the telephony system, which was the oldest system across all three councils.
The Lead Cabinet Member informed the committee of the headlines from the LGA report on ICT, which were that:
· Council Anywhere would make the required step change to meet staff’s needs and bring the Council up to speed with modern ways of working.
· There was a need to increase the visibility of the ICT team as a whole.
The Lead Cabinet Member informed the committee of the following:
· 13000 registrations had been made on the Customer Portal following the soft launch of this. The hard launch was scheduled for August 2019. The project was progressing well with two full time business analysts working on it.
· Pressures were being experienced by the Customer Contact Centre Team to support the channel shift to the Customer Portal.
· The Lead Cabinet Member was concerned that South Cambridgeshire District Council was not investing as much money into the project compared to partners, and suggested this needed to be looked at carefully. The Interim Assistant Director of Waste and Special Projects informed the committee that SCDC had put some more money into this project, however it was still the junior partner and officers advised that the organisation needed to invest more.
· The Interim Corporate Programme Manager was drawing together all ICT and business change programmes into a programme of work.
The Interim Chief Executive explained to the committee the original arrangements for 3C Shared Services governance, which had consisted of the following:
· Chief Executive Board meetings (strategic)
· Director Board meetings (operational)
· Leaders meetings (involving all three Council Leaders)
He pointed out that 3C ICT’s governance arrangements were very different to the governance set up for the Shared Waste Service, of which SCDC was the lead member. It was not understood why 3C ICT governance had been set up without member involvement however lessons had been learnt from this and the council was actively seeking to change this.
The Scrutiny and Overview Committee thanked the Head of 3C ICT for attending the meeting.
The Scrutiny and Overview Committee RECOMMENDED:
a) That the project to renew South Cambridgeshire District Council’s ageing telephony system be progressed.
b) That the ICT infrastructure and building resilience be looked at closely.
The Scrutiny and Overview Committee SUPPORTED:
a) The set up of a Member Board for 3C ICT following the model of the Shared Waste Service.
b) Continual investment by the Council in ICT, to ensure systems and equipment were kept up to date.