Governments facing organizational revolution, V-P says

When governments first jumped on the electronic service delivery (ESD) bandwagon, they failed to realize they were transforming their own organizations in addition to providing better program and service access to the public.

That was the message Brian Freeman, the vice-president of single window government initiatives for IT services firm CGI Group Inc., delivered to delegates at a recent luncheon in Toronto.

“That’s what governments are fearful of trying to manage,” Freeman said of the organizational changes in government that are taking place worldwide. “It doesn’t happen in two to three years. Most of the leading thinkers will tell us that the transformation of government will take 15 to 20 years and it’s probably the most exciting time to be in the public sector. Public administrators are going to see more change to our democracies than we’ve seen since the American and French revolutions.”

While there is a revolution taking place, Freeman said it is important to remember that the focus should not be on introducing something new, but rather “re-inventing the old.”

“Governments have been doing this for a long time,” he said. “They license, they permit, they register…and they regulate. Those are the businesses of government. It’s about how to do things in a new way and how to do things from the point of view of not being process oriented but being services oriented.

“What we try to tell governments is: This is not an integration problem, this is a service and organizational problem first a foremost. You will spend as much money on training as you do on technology in building e-government and single window government capabilities.”

Of course, at the end of the day, there has to be some value in leading an ESD revolution. Freeman said the value will come in time but governments need to realize the revolution is about increasing services first. Reducing costs and realizing ROI will happen after governments change the way citizens do business with them.

“First of all, you have to build these multi-channels,” he said. “You (then) have to manage it. After you’ve accomplished that, you have to go back and maximize it, which means you have to go back in and change the way you’re doing business as a result of the way the citizen is working with you.”

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