Geoff asked me to review ICT pay and allowances in the light of the present economic environment, so that's what I've been doing, this week, and have arranged to discuss the prognosis and recommendations with managers next week.

Socitm's Events Group met, on Friday, at David Wilde's new offices in St. John's Wood. Andrew Unsworth, from Edinburgh City Council, joined us to help in planning for the annual conference (being held in Edinburgh) which provided most of our agenda.

Elaine Davis joined us by video-conference from her motor-home, now in Oregon, where it was 2.00 am as we started our meeting. She informed us that sponsorship and exhibition bookings are holding up very well, despite the recession.

We discussed final agenda items to enable an updated flyer to be published during August. Scottish content will include the national citizen card (later, the London Regional Committee discussed a new feasibility study for London) approaches to the Cloud in Scotland and an Edinburgh contribution to different approaches to/ perspectives on outsourcing.

Prospective innovations for this year include the facility to provide conference feedback via an IVR (Interactive Voice Recognition) system provided by Oni - one of the confirmed sponsors - online meeting facilitation from "MustMeet" and a simultaneous virtual conference through HBL.

We also discussed a spring event, next year, with the NEC, or Motorcycle Museum, as possible venues. I am to get a steer on this and other issues from next week's Board Meeting.

After lunch, David gave me a lift to the Socitm London Committee meeting at 59 ½ Southwark Street, which, as a storm broke, I was most grateful for. We dropped Andrew Unsworth and Martin Fuggles at their stations on the way.

Damian Auckland, of Cidway UK, was invited to address the start of our meeting. Cidway have produced software enabling two-factor authentication on any Java-enabled Cell 'Phone. There was a lot of interest from Committee members - no doubt, hastened by the imperative to facilitate self-service for Council services as part of the efficiency drive.

As mentioned above, Steve Pennant advised as that Capital Ambition is tendering a feasibility study for a London Citizen/ Smart Card, hopefully capitalising on developments such as Hillingdon's, and the earlier efforts from Newham and South-East London.

The next Socitm London Branch meeting will be on 17th September. That should provide the opportunity to feedback from the special CIO Event being held on Public Sector Network earlier in the week, and considerations for the London PSN development. Digital telephony convergence/ security will also be on the agenda.

Some of the stories that caught my attention in the last week are...

Telecare offers crucial opportunity to help save health and social care systems which refers to Professor Sue Yeandle's report.

Also, Too late for CIOs to get lean and agile? And...

(Global CIOs:) Why CIOs without Customer Engagement Will Fail. I liked this CEO/CIO conversational scenario, but didn't see why it referred just to "global" CIOs.