Powys County Council implements NETconsent to ensure PSN CoCo Compliance
Powys County Council is a large local government body, with a vast array of responsibility for the local community. Its extensive remit ranges from housing, council tax collection, business services and the environment, to leisure and tourism. Hosting a wide range of departments, such a sizeable organisation demands specific controls on policy management. NETconsent provides these controls in a secure and targeted manner.
The initial catalyst for Powys County Council’s implementation of NETconsent, was the need for GCSx compliance. This regulation, now known as PSN CoCo, relates to the Public Services Network Code of Connection, designed to safeguard the secure government extranet. Adherence to this layer of regulation was assured with the introduction of NETconsent, a boon to IT policy. Powys has also achieved PSI-DSS compliance with the aid of NETconsent, ensuring adherence to payment data security.
NETconsent Compliance Suite was first implemented six years ago, so is now fully rolled out, and primarily used as an IT tool. At any one time Powys employs around 9,000 staff, of which 3,000 are largely PC users; of these, a core 2,500 have access to NETconsent. Julie Davies, Principal IT Security Officer at Powys Council Council explains, “NETconsent is largely used for distributing ICT policies at present, but other departments are using it more and more. In the coming years we anticipate its spread over a multitude of departments, one example being Health and Safety, for a variety of uses”.
In its current role, the NETconsent has proved indispensable in a number of key areas. Educationally, it is a powerful method of issuing policies and doing so in a way that captures attention. The development and updating of policies is easily managed, ensuring that the latest version of any document is clearly available. Legally, it provides a compliance insurance policy. An example being the case of a disciplinary tribunal, where NETconsent provides a rebuttal to any employee defence of not having been aware of a particular piece of legislation. The system will have documented proof of that person having read and then accepting the policy in question.
Several features of NETconsent have been hugely beneficial for Powys. The Compliance Suite assessment capabilities have supported an ongoing task to analyse the proficiency of Welsh language at the council, and the Informer facility is used frequently for personal or group targeted messaging, preventing information overload to employees or to the network. NETconsent is also largely employed for staff development reviews and the activation of the product to produce staff handbooks and learning guides is in the offing.
From a design point of view, like others who have opted for NETconsent over its competitors, Julie was impressed by the intuitive user interface and unfussy design, “We wanted a solution that enhanced the user experience, rather than cause confusion because of an unnecessarily busy display and a reliance on distracting pop-ups”. Above all, Julie considers NETconsent’s strongest asset to be its configurability. It allows the client to define the information that is important, as opposed to that which is advisory. She describes the reporting facility as ‘brilliant’, providing a clear and documented indicator as to how the organisation is performing as regards policies.
The association between the two organisations has been a fruitful one. Julie considers the training and support from NETconsent to be ‘faultless’ and forward-thinking, future requirements are always considered. One such example is the planned integration of training information with the council’s own Trent training system.
Moving forward, Powys intend to use the product further for its training capabilities. This will involve aiming content to mobile device users and third party contractors, both principal areas of NETconsent’s own development schedule.
A local government organisation of this size brings particular difficulties and needs in terms of regulatory compliance. With a vast workforce, strict policy adherence is needed to bring everyone up to speed with current policy. For Powys County Council, with NETconsent at hand, best practice is assured.