Morag Campsie talks about our work and why it's important. Download the transcript for this video
Audit Scotland supports the improvement of public services by looking at how public money is spent, and whether policies are achieving desired outcomes for individuals and bodies.
We do this through our annual audits of individual public sector bodies and through more specific audits of local and national digital and ICT programmes.
Responding to Covid-19 has increased the pace at which Scotland's 32 councils are delivering services through digital technology. Greater collaboration, use of shared expertise, citizen engagement and strategic planning are needed, however, to fully realise the potential of digital technology.
Digital vision and strategy: Glasgow City Council has an outward looking digital strategy that goes beyond IT to focus on people and outcomes. It is linked to wider council priorities and includes an action plan with goals and outcomes for local people, to support the council in achieving its vision for the city.
Example: Digital vision and strategy
Glasgow City Council’s digital strategy has a clear vision, containing two major themes: digital economy and digital public services. The strategy is linked to its wider ambitions for the local area and contains an extensive action plan, with detailed goals and outcomes to support the council in achieving its vision of Glasgow becoming:
'A world-class city with a thriving digital economy and community, where everyone can flourish and benefit from the best digital connectivity and skills, where technology is used to improve everyone’s quality of life, drive businesses’ innovation and service design and improve our city, its neighbourhoods and its success.'
The strategy integrates outcomes for local people within two themed action plans:
- The digital economy action plan states how the council will work with its partners to achieve several outcomes. For example, it aims to reduce existing skills gaps through a range of initiatives, including by ensuring that everyone in Glasgow has the opportunity to learn how to use digital technology.
- The action plan for digital public services states how the council intends to use digital technology to redesign services ‘around the citizen, enabling services to become more integrated, more proactive, and more personalised.’ Actions include establishing a programme that will provide opportunities for collaboration between communities and all sectors to help shape the city’s digital future. Outcomes are intended to improve partnership working and decision making, ensure public services better meet the needs of citizens and communities, as well as improving people’s lives by making better use of smart technology and data.
The council also aims to improve community engagement and empowerment through better access to information and using digital technology to increase civic participation.
This shows the council is communicating a clear digital vision and ambition, as well as understanding the importance of people and digital technology in transforming services.
Monitoring outcomes: Perth and Kinross Council developed a benefits realisation framework to identify and capture financial and non-financial benefits from digital transformation projects.
Example: Monitoring outcomes
Examples of non-financial benefits include an increase in staff satisfaction or work life balance, improved customer satisfaction and improved management information and data quality to better inform decisions.
The council recognises that non-financial benefits are more difficult to measure but are essential to assess whether changes are having the intended outcomes for service users, the community and the council. It is intended that non-financial benefits will be monitored alongside savings and efficiencies three months after digital services or programmes have gone live and then annually. These will be reported to the council’s Digital Board.
This shows the council is working to understand and improve outcomes for staff, citizens and communities affected by digital transformation, linking to the attributes of a user focussed council.
Example: Workforce planning
Fife Council’s Organisational Development Strategy and Digital Strategy are clearly linked with a workforce plan in place. This includes the skillsets and culture changes required to support the Digital Strategy, as well as the changes to its technical architecture and supplier and customer engagement.
Cross-sectoral collaboration: A range of partners established the Digital Telecare collaboration to develop an online resource to support the transition from analogue to digital telecare.
Example: Cross-sectoral collaboration
Digital Telecare for Scottish Local Government is a collaboration between the Scottish Government’s Technology Enabled Care team, the Local Government Digital Office and over 20 Health and Social Care Partnerships (Partnerships). It was established to explore what would be needed to support Partnerships transition from an analogue to a digital telecare service.
Digital Telecare worked with Partnerships and a range of industry experts to create an online resource- the Digital Telecare Playbook. The playbook outlines the process required to achieve the transition to a digital service for citizens who have telecare in their homes. The online resource also brings together the latest best practice guidance on the transition to digital telecare and allows users to share relevant technical information.
Since launching in October 2019, Digital Telecare has received positive feedback and estimates that the playbook has delivered an operational efficiency saving of 1,296 working days in the first year alone.
Technology and data enabled
Use of data: Glasgow City Council used data held across the council to introduce a system of automatic entitlement to increase up take of school clothing grants from families living in poverty.
Example: Use of data
Glasgow City Council set up a Poverty Leadership group to learn about welfare reform and child poverty from the lived experience of citizens. The group worked in collaboration with One Parent Scotland and found that take-up for school clothing grants was low due to a number of barriers including: challenges with the application process, the need to provide multiple forms of evidence of income and identity, language barriers and a lack of knowledge about entitlement.
The council used data analysts to develop an alternative model of delivery and a system of automatic entitlement by merging existing data sets held across the council. Data matching technology was used to identify those eligible for the grant and found that despite 30,000 being eligible, only 22,000 were actively claiming. The council were able to inform the additional 8,000 residents of their eligibility, subsequently making payments using existing details and providing letters containing barcodes that could be cashed locally for residents who were not already on the system.
The project resulted in almost full take-up, with nearly 30,000 eligible residents now claiming the grant. The council used the same approach to distribute food vouchers to families entitled to both free school meals and school clothing grants while schools were closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. This approach is now also being developed on a Scotland-wide basis to maximise the take-up of benefits and address child poverty.
Space and time to innovate: Glasgow City Council has an innovation strategy that provides a framework for innovative ideas to progress. It has established an innovation team and innovation centre to support innovative digital transformation.
Example: Space and time to innovate
Glasgow City Council established an in-house Strategic Innovation and Technology team to support digital transformation. The team developed an Innovation Strategy, linked to the council’s digital strategy. This sets out specific actions, including: establishing a culture of innovation by introducing an innovation forum and providing training for digital leaders and champions; introducing a workflow for management of £100k innovation fund; creating a framework to implement innovative ideas and a commitment to delivering four measurable innovations each year.
The council also has the Centre for Civic Innovation, run by its Development and Regeneration Services. The centre is designed to create an environment that allows innovation to develop. One innovation project involved collaborative working with Glasgow’s Health and Social Care Partnership (Partnership) to look at using technology to support service users to live independently. This involved a range of partnership working, including collaboration with public and private sector organisations to develop digital telecare solutions to common problems such as false alarm call outs and unreliable sensors. The Partnership also engaged with the City of Edinburgh Council to learn lessons about innovative procurement approaches.
The project was successful in terms of building a range of industry partnerships and gaining an increased understanding of the technology available in order to co-design innovative solutions based around the needs of service users. The project has also allowed the council to start future proofing service delivery, by using digital technology to create efficiencies and enable service users to self-manage the support they require.
Our digital work includes an overarching guide of lessons learned from public sector ICT projects, and reports on digital related programmes for central government, infrastructure and health.
Lessons learned from projects
Our reports feature several exhibits that visualise complex data and processes in an accessible and informative way. See the examples below or click on our reports to find out more.
Our future work
We take a flexible and risk based approach to auditing digital public services. We will continue to monitor local and national digital and ICT programmes strategies. We will also look at areas such as digital exclusion, connectivity, innovation, collaboration, data governance and transformation, cyber security and service redesign as part of our local and national audit work.
Continue to monitor digital programmes at a local level through annual audit work
Giving evidence to Parliament
- Principles for a digital future at the Public Audit and Post Legislative Scrutiny Committee – ongoing. Monitoring of progress made with implementing major ICT programmes is currently taking place on a six-month basis.
- Principles for a digital future at the Social Security Committee on 14 September 2017.
- Managing ICT contracts in central government at the Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee on 22 June 2015.
Conferences and other activities
We take part in a range of engagement activities to spread the word about our work on digital in the public sector in Scotland. Senior Manager Gemma Diamond and Audit Manager Morag Campsie spoke at the recent events listed below.
- Auditing cyber security seminar organised by the European Organisation of Regional External Public Finance Audit Institutions (EURORAI), April 2018.
- Following the launch of Principles for a digital future, speaking engagements included presentations about the report at EURORAI October 2017; ISACA Scottish Chapter AGM June 2018; and the LG Digital Office Partnership Forum October 2017.
- We have also spoken about The role of the auditor: change and process management at the ISACA Scottish Chapter AGM June 2017.
UK Audit offices
The National Audit Office (NAO) has produced the following reports and guidance on digital and cyber security related issues :
- Transformation guidance for audit committees, National Audit Office May 2018
- Digital Transformation in Government, National Audit Office March 2017
- The digital skills gap in government: Survey findings National Audit Office December 2015
- Investigation: WannaCry cyber attack and the NHS, National Audit Office October 2017
- Cyber security and information risk guidance for Audit Committees, National Audit Office September 2017
- Protecting information across government, National Audit Office September 2016
Information on good practice is also available from the Welsh Audit Office’s seminar ‘Inspiring public services to deliver independence and well-being through digital ambition’ hosted in June 2018.
A collection of international Publications on Digital Government is available from the OECD, ranging from 2003 - present.
The Scottish Government and UK Government, and Scottish Local Government Digital Office (LGDO) provide the following strategies and guidance:
- Introduction to Agile, Scottish Local Government Digital Office January 2019
- Scotland's Digital Health and Care Strategy: enabling, connecting and empowering, Scottish Government April 2018
- Cyber resilience: learning and skills action plan 2018-2020, Scottish Government March 2018
- Safe, Secure and Prosperous: a cyber resilience strategy for Scotland – Public Sector Action Plan 2017-18, Scottish Government updated March 2018
- Realising Scotland's full potential in a digital world: A Digital Strategy for Scotland, Scottish Government March 2017
- Digital First Service Standard, Scottish Government 2016
- Technology Assurance Framework, Scottish Government 2016
- Digital Infrastructure Toolkit, Cabinet Office and Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, July 2018.
- Minimum Cyber security standard, Cabinet Office June 2018
- The 7 Lenses of Transformation Guide, UK Government Digital Service, May 2018.
- UK digital strategy, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, March 2017
- Cyber Essentials Scheme, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport April 2014
Digital Advisory Panel
Audit Scotland’s Digital Advisory Panel provides expertise and advice to our digital focused audit work. Members sit on the panel in an advisory capacity only. The content and conclusions of reports presented to the panel are the sole responsibility of Audit Scotland. We would like to thank the advisory panel for their ongoing input to our work:
- Charlie Anderson, Fife Council
- Jonathan Cameron, Scottish Government
- Rab Campbell
- Colin Cook, Scottish Government
- Alexander Holt, Scottish Government
- Geoff Huggins, NHS Education for Scotland Digital Service
- Stephen Ingledew, FinTech Scotland
- David McNeill, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations
- Deryck Mitchelson, NHS National Services Scotland
- Anne Moises
- Alastair O’Brien, Incremental Group
- Max Tse, National Audit Office
- Martyn Wallace, Local Government Digital Office
Get in touch
To discuss Audit Scotland’s work on digital or let us know what you think about this page, please contact: