ICT Inspection shows positive results – Merton provides ‘Good’ Two Star service

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) provision at Merton Council has been assessed as good with promising prospects for improvement, according to an independent report by the Audit Commission. The best value inspection team gave the service two stars on its rating system.

Gurmel Bansal, Head of IT at Merton said:

“We are very satisfied with the overall assessment by the Audit Commission, Merton was one of only two London boroughs, out of the ten assessed to date, to achieve two stars. The report has highlighted areas that need extra work, as well as praising those that are established and working well in meeting Mertons aims and objectives. The Inspection has provided a clear direction for all those involved in ICT at Merton. It is an encouraging position to move forward from and the inspectors recommendations will be embedded into our improvement plans and linked to best practice.”

Leader of the Council, Andrew Judge said: ‘Obtaining 2 stars is a very real achievement for those officers involved in the Best Value Review. It reflects a great deal of hard work by all concerned together with a focus on the central role that a successful modernising Council must assign to IT.’

Reports and data from the best value review carried out by Merton, completed in September 2002, along with other information such as corporate accounts, were given to the Audit Commission in order for them to carry out their inspection. Along with this information ‘reality checks’ were carried out by Inspectors, this involved onsite visits to assess how easy it was to use the Service and to see how well it works.

The inspection report highlighted a number of strengths:

· It is a focused, efficient, cost-effective service running on significantly less investment than similar councils;
· The staff are high quality, respected by their customers and committed to providing the best possible service;
· Access to basic e-government services are available on the website;
· Some improvements to the service have been made since the best value review started in January 2001 and the service is more customer orientated;
· Hardware and software are fit for the purpose and are generally improving;
· Partnership arrangements are working well.

The Commission assessed the prospect for improvement as ‘promising’ because of improvements in the process of being implemented or highlighted as an area needing improvement, these include:

· Issues identified from consultation with various stakeholders were carried forwa