Socitm, the public sector IT managers' association, has produced a guide outlining the top ten technology questions that council leaders should ask their CIOs.

The Insight briefing, 'Ten questions every chief executive should ask their CIO', also explains why the questions are important in the context of current challenges facing public services.

Socitm wants to help council leaders understand that their CIOs should be more than just a source of information on how technology works and whether or not projects are being delivered on time and on budget.

"The expectation should be that ICT professionals will take the lead in helping colleagues reshape service delivery by exploiting the technology opportunity. This in turn will allow organisations to meet increasing demands for information and services at a time when resources are static or falling," it said.

The briefing also suggests that the role of the ICT function should be to unlock the value of the council's information, and to make it properly available to employees, partners, citizens and businesses.

For example, in response to the question 'How should we manage our information assets?', Socitm advises organisations on the importance of looking after their information properly, by having the right policies in place. This is particularly important if they rely on accurate information to support new ways of working, such as flexible working and customer and employee self-service.

Other questions that the briefing addresses include 'how can ICT reduce our operating costs and add value?', 'how should we realise the benefits from any investment in ICT?' and 'how should we provide appropriate leadership and governance in managing ICT?'

"Those [heads of IT] who aspire to a broader role within the organisation should create the opportunities for dialogue [with the chief executive], especially around the list of key questions and answers we have compiled," said Chris Head, Socitm Insight principal associate and author of the briefing.