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Matthew Garrow-Fisher | News | 19 April 2012
There have been many perceived barriers to the adoption of shared services within the public sector and the National Audit Office's recent conclusions hardly delivered a vote of confidence.
According to the body's report government shared services are failing to deliver value for money, with the funds being spent on the creation of SSCs far outweighing the savings being generated.
But the concerns don't just centre on cost. There are also worries about the handling of data in accordance with the law, and these are putting some public organisations off.
David Wilde, Chief Information Officer at Essex County Council, insists this should not be the case.
Speaking to the Financial Times he explained how his authority had tackled the issues through the creation of the Essex Charter Trust and urged others to follow the same example.
"Agencies may default to not sharing information because that is perceived as an easier way to be compliant with the law," he remarked, "I think that's the wrong answer."
"The right way is to ask yourself as a council: Who are you providing services for? How can you best provide for them? What information do you need to do that? And what do you need to do to ensure that the rights of the individual are protected?"
The Essex Charter Trust is an information sharing protocol adopted by all public sector bodies in Essex. Including local government, health agencies and other invited organisations, and it covers core legislation including the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act.
It is not a legally binding contract, but a statement from trusted partners, and it is reviewed annually at the beginning of each new financial year by the Essex Information Management Group.
By using such agreements, Mr Wilde believes councils and other public sector bodies can overcome some of the challenges they face in respect of data governance and move closer to achieving an effective and efficient shared services framework.
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