What are registers?
Within Welsh Government we manage and maintain a range of information for numerous purposes, including developing policies, monitoring performance and delivering services. This information tends to contain categories or groupings which we commonly use across the organisation. For example information may be split into local authority areas or contain details according to ethnicity categories. Whilst it is assumed that consistent lists of these categories/groupings are being used this is not always the case.
That’s where registers come in. Put simply registers are authoritative lists of information. So rather than different areas of the organisation all maintaining their own list of local authorities, creating a register of local authorities will mean there is one list, that everyone uses, that is trusted to contain the most up to date and accurate information.
Why do we need them?
In recent years the UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS) has been developing a digital platform for registers (essentially a means for sharing registers in a consistent way) and are working to develop an ecosystem of linked registers. But why are they doing this? What are the benefits of establishing authoritative lists of information?
The main benefit for users is knowing that the information contained in the register is current and accurate. Maintaining multiple versions of the same list invariably leads to errors and inconsistencies, however these issues can be minimised through using a single register.
Another key benefit is the resource savings of updating and maintaining a single list rather than multiple lists. Instead of multiple people having to change their lists every time there’s a change to the information, having a register means that only one list needs to be updated.
Our first attempt
As part of their work GDS have been engaging with users and stakeholders from across the UK, with their Register Design Authority (RDA) team providing ongoing advice and support. Having already published a register of devolved public bodies in Wales on our website, and following the publication of the register of English local authorities it seemed sensible for us to create a register of Welsh local authorities.
Whilst this initially seemed straight forward we soon came across a few issues including the fact that in Wales local authorities cover county and county borough councils as well as community councils. So, in order to start with a straightforward register we decided to focus on the local authorities which provide the mainstream local government services. Therefore our first attempt provides a list of the 22 county and county borough councils.
Progress so far
We’re pleased to say that we’ve now created an alpha of our local authority register. For those of you not familiar with the term alpha, this means we’ve created a prototype of the register in order to gain your feedback.
We really want to hear what you think of the register and whether it meets your needs. In particular:
- Does it contain all the information you need?
- Is there information you think is missing?
- Can you easily access the information?
Your feedback is important to us as we will use this to build a working version of the register (otherwise known as moving it into beta-phase) that can be used more widely. So if you have any comments or views please contact us at RLGProgramme@wales.gsi.gov.uk