Local government innovation works: LOTI evaluation
In July 2019, LOTI was set up to support better collaboration across London local government on all things digital, tech and data.
With a team of just three people and a membership including the Greater London Authority (GLA), London Councils (our host organisation, which represents the 32 boroughs and the City of London) and 15 boroughs, we set out to prove that collaboration – though hard – is worth it.
Four years on, and now with 27 boroughs in the LOTI community and a much wider remit that places greater emphasis on innovation, we’re delighted to share the first in-depth evaluation of our work, conducted by the GLA Economics Team.
An overview of what the report contains, together with reaction to its key findings, has kindly been provided in a blog, “Local government innovation works: an evaluation of the London Office of Technology and Innovation”, by Theo Blackwell, Chief Digital Officer to the Mayor of London, and the main instigator in the creation of LOTI.
Key messages from Theo’s blog include:
- LOTI has substantially improved digital collaboration across London, receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback from both the survey and interviews with LOTI members.
- LOTI’s team of just 9 people has had an impact far greater than its size. It has delivered 60+ major digital, data and technology projects with boroughs ranging from homelessness and digital inclusion, to new service models in adult social care and improvements to data-sharing.
- Members feel supported by LOTI staff and ultimately LOTI helps them ‘get things done’. Collaboration is challenging and members feel that the cross-borough work co-ordinated by LOTI would not happen otherwise. However, challenges to collaboration remain; there is a lack of alignment around goals, different organisational mindsets and silo-working in local government is hard to overcome.
- LOTI helps boroughs save time and money. Recruitment support from LOTI is associated with cost savings for member boroughs of at least £300k compared to market rates for the same type of support, and the Data Sharing Agreements project has potentially delivered £1.4m in savings compared to individual agreements between all parties.
- LOTI works with a range of private partners, such as Faculty AI and Social Finance (data), Multiverse and Founder & Coders (talent), PUBLIC (GovTech) and has a partnership with industry body techUK. LOTI’s innovation days for adult social care and Net-Zero have built-in opportunities for scale-ups to show ‘the art of the possible’ to senior leaders.
- LOTI is delivered at low cost: now with 27 member boroughs each contributing £30,000 in annual fees. GLA and London Councils also each contribute £100,000 per year. The GLA recently agreed to fund LOTI for a further three years.
What we can improve
The report also contains helpful feedback on where we can improve.
We need to do more to clearly articulate how we choose our projects and why we prioritise them. We need to make it easier for members to involve their colleagues in the many different forums, projects and events that LOTI provides. We need to explore how we can help each borough solve their most pressing local issues, as well as catalysing pan-London working.
It’s also been interesting to note that many elements of our work are genuinely challenging to evaluate objectively and quantitatively. So much of the value of a community like LOTI’s is in the connections we create, and the relationships we help broker and build so that our members know each other well enough to be able to reach out whenever they need help or advice. It’s hard to put a value on that, but we know it’s one of things our members appreciate most.
Overall, I’m really proud to see that the work of my amazing team is making a difference. Together, we’ll be reflecting both how we can improve based on the feedback this report provides, and also how we ensure robust evaluation is designed into every future project and activity from its earlier stages.
LOTI remains committed to working in the open, we have a monthly newsletter and we’ll be sure to publish all future evaluations on this site.
In the meantime, thank you to all our members and everyone who has supported our work to date!