In the past few years, the main changes in how elected council members make decisions have been structural – most notably the creation of council executives and attempts to develop the overview and scrutiny function. Contrary to this, there has been little progress in the way that local policy decisions
Rewiring local decision making for political judgement illustrates the clear opportunities offered by the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT). Using case study material from the USA, Dr Perri 6 shows that the technology and data exists to radically change the decision making process.
The pamphlet shows how ICT can be harnessed to enable elected members to make better-informed – and hopefully better – decisions, through for example digital geographic information systems, ‘modelling’ and ‘mapping’. It suggests that a new focus is needed in the UK, where we are generally falling far behind what is possible, while massive sums continue to be invested in enhancing electronic service delivery.
As well as presenting a positive message about what the future holds for local decision making, the author is realistic about the nature of political life. It does not present ICT as a panacea for making easier, better decisions, but as a tool that can co-exist with the expressions of leadership, co-operation, conflict and political judgement that make political life what it is.