The search for more effective methods of delivering public services began in the early 1980s in most industrialized countries. Overall, the trend has been toward reducing the role of the government in public service delivery in certain sectors of activities and encouraging the private or nonprofit sector to play a more important role. In the last decade, both industrialized and developing countries started to seek out new models of collaboration involving multi-government networks or public-private partnerships, often involving innovative use of information technology.
The objective of this research project is to enhance our understanding of multi-organizational collaborations engaged in the delivery of government services to citizens and businesses. The concept of "collaboration" here is a broad one. It includes not only public-private partnerships, but also encompasses situations involving multiple government organizations, and government working with nonprofit organizations. The defining characteristic of these endeavors is the voluntary combination of separate organizations into a coherent service delivery system supported by advanced information technologies. The rapid evolution of these technologies has created important new opportunities for governments to redesign services through creative relationships with other organizations. This research seeks to document and analyze how these collaborations develop and perform in different nations around the world.
The Center for Technology in Government and the Centre Francophone d'Informatisation des Organisations (CEFRIO) in Quebec are the major research partners in this project. It involves comparative analyses of successful collaborations in North America and Europe through case studies developed by an international network of field researchers. The study is designed to identify critical barriers, enablers, and results associated with the technologies, processes, and relationships employed across a variety of collaboration models.
The three-year project addresses the following questions:
The project is carried out by an international network of field researchers in Canada, the US, and Europe who prepared case studies of apparently successful collaborations in their countries. A comparative analysis allows cross-cultural comparisons and identification of critical barriers, enablers, and results associated with the technologies, processes, and relationships employed in each case. The final step is the preparation and active dissemination of scholarly articles and practitioner-oriented guidelines.
The American cases include the New York State Geographic Information System Coordination Program, Access Indiana, Firstgov.gov, and the Internal Revenue Service e-File program. Nine Canadian and three European cases include collaborations associated with job services, tourism, insurance, business development, and other topics.
The study includes the preparation of separate cases, plus cross-case analysis, a practitioner-oriented management guide, the preparation of scholarly articles, and an international colloquium.
Round tables, plenary sessions and workshops presented actual cases that addressed numerous questions raised by the implementation of public/private partnerships:
The US portion of this project was funded in part by the National Foundation's Digital Government Program through grant number EIA-99832.