Key findings - founding, governance and structure
In this section, we look at the different elements that make up an ODA based on our experience, combined with our observations of what is working well across the UK. Individual case studies are also available, providing detail on each ODA’s objectives, structure, governance, pilot projects, information sharing approaches and protocols, as well as the breakdown of software and technologies each has access to.
There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to building an Office of Data Analytics, with each structured in a different way and governed through different frameworks. Initiation, ownership and direction of an ODA may come from different sources, such as a combined authority, a local authority, the police or jointly-owned across partners.
For example, WMODA originated after the formation of the West Midlands Combined Authority and forms part of the wider public sector reform, inclusion and cohesion programme promoted in the region.
Although now governed through the Partnership Executive Group in Worcestershire, the Office of Data Analytics originated from Worcestershire County Council after they experienced an unprecedented increase in local demand generated by complex social problems. Increasingly difficult financial cuts forced the council to explore innovative solutions to some of these problems. This led to the creation of WODA in 2017.
By contrast, in Avon and Somerset, the Office for Data Analytics originated from Avon and Somerset Constabulary. Recognising that other partners’ activity has a bearing on police demand and addressing vulnerability, the principles of the existing Multi-Agency Integrated Service Hub were extended, and the ODA was created following a successful Police Transformation Fund bid. The ODA’s sponsoring body is the Police and Crime Commissioner. This, together with the Senior Responsible Owner, reports to the Home Office, due to the current police transformation funding stream. However, it is the South West Emergency Service Forum (together with local authority and health representatives) that directs and oversees the ODA’s activity.
Although ODAs may have different origins, they still require a number of organisations to sign up to the approach and feel invested in it. Some of these organisations may play a part in the governance of the ODA and its projects, and in many cases the governing executive board will be made up of representatives from a range of different services.
Governance and management of Offices of Data Analytics tend to follow these general principles:
- Initiation: one organisation (that can be a local authority, combined authority, police force etc.) identifies the need for the ODA approach and begins to assemble partners. If a collaboratively owned ODA is adopted, the initiating organisation will not necessarily be the owner or final decision maker.
- Oversight Board: Formed of senior leadership personnel (e.g. chief executives, chief digital officers, councillors, senior police officers etc.) from across the partnership, responsible for setting the vision and objectives and making key decisions.
- Delivery Board: led by a programme manager, the delivery group consists of experts (most likely from IT, Legal, Information Governance and Data Science) and representatives from key partners. The board will be accountable for the delivery of pilots and subsequent projects.
- Project Board(s): dependant on the size of the ODA and number of projects, there may be multiple project boards led by one or more project managers, all accountable to the Delivery Board. This board(s) can also include relevant service representatives, front line workers etc.