Participants in the Lac Carling Congress in May identified a new set of priorities for the national e-government agenda.
The priorities exercise followed three days of plenary sessions and workshops, which addressed a broad of issues around electronic service delivery.
In Lac Carling’s “digital democracy,” voters do more than vote with handheld wireless keypads; they pick the questions to go on the ballot and are largely responsible for turning the results into action. This year, they were asked to provide guidance for the year ahead on three broad areas of ESD: Multi-Jurisdictional Service Transformation, Privacy and Service Delivery, and Identification, Registration and Authorization. Recommendations from the Congress go to the Public Sector CIO Council (PSCIOC) and the Public Sector Service Delivery Council (PSSDC), which use them to guide decision making on e-government issues.
1. Multi-Jurisdictional Service Transformation The Lac Carling Congress is an “ecumenical” organization, emphasizing points of agreement across political jurisdictions and, increasingly, between all parties, which can contribute to the development of e-government. If the organizations and institutions that participate in Lac Carling get service across borders right, the remaining obstacles should be that much easier to surmount. From the plenary on Multi-Jurisdictional Service Transformation, delegates culled emerging challenges on bridging gaps and avoiding overlaps in future projects. Strategic recommendations to the PSCIOC and PSSDC addressed four areas: Governing Horizontal Programs and Decision Making; Funding and Sustainability; Information Management; and, Engaging Municipalities.
In the first category, Governing Horizontal Programs and Decision Making, participants’ preferred option for action was the establishment of a multi-jurisdictional organization to function both as a research agency and as a secretariat for the entire initiative.
The next preferred option was mapping service offerings to identify overlaps and opportunities, followed by a review of actions by the PSSDC.
For Funding and Sustainability, the first choice in each of two rounds received about three-quarters of the votes. The first-round winner was the development of sound templates for building business cases and return of investment (ROI) for service transformation projects. That option included a call for a report next year to demonstrate results.
The first choice of the second round was support for the development of public-private partnerships based on a fee-for-transaction to fund service transformation projects.
In the Information Management category, the margin was not as decisive. About one-third voted to identify specific service delivery demonstration projects such as 311/211 community service lines and e-Contact, to focus on information management. About 55 per cent indicated that their second choice was to recommit the councils to information management standards such as XML and privacy.
Under Engaging Municipalities, the fourth and final category of Multi-Jurisdictional Service Transformation decision-making, delegates were solidly in favour of taking municipalities into consideration in all inter-jurisdictional partnerships. The next priority was to expand participation in PSCIOC/PSSDC to municipalities, possibly through financial support from the provinces, as an example.
2. Collaboration in service delivery
Lac Carling participants made privacy and security issues their top choice for the next round of research to find what Canadians think about the delivery of public services. Participants were asked to provide guidance for the next round of the national Citizens First series of surveys conducted by the Institute for Citizen-Centred Service (ICCS). The top choice among six suggested topics was Security and privacy concerns in electronic service delivery.
The result means that Citizens First 4, to be launched this fall, will likely ask citizens how governments should address their concerns relating to privacy and security when dealing with governments over the Internet.
Charles Vincent, program manager of the ICCS program, noted that a similar process at last year’s Lac Carling Congress led the ICCS to conduct the Taking Care of Business survey, the first in the world to evaluate the delivery of government services to businesses. Aside from privacy and security, the ICCS menu for Congress participants included:
Client/service segmentation, to explore why citizens use a variety of channels to obtain government services and what their expectations are from those channels; Marketing/communication of service options, to assess awareness of service delivery options and identify strategies to raise awareness and encourage self-service options; Telephone service delivery, to improve the accessibility and quality of telephone services; Confidence in public institutions, to investigate how service quality affects confidence in public institutions, and Channel synergies, to explore whether people are choosing to use more than one service channel and whether this can produce better service.
Results of the first three Citizens First surveys as well as Taking Care of Business can be found at www.iccs-isac.org.
3. Identification, Identification and Authorization The PSCIOC and PSSDC created a multi-jurisdictional working group to work on Identification, Authentication and Authorization (IA and A) after previous Lac Carling Congresses endorsed the idea and proposed some initial tasks.
The broad goals of the working group, under the direction of Ontario’s Jeff Evans and colleagues Mike Cowley of British Columbia and Brenda Watkins of the federal government, are to create standards to support seamless, cross-jurisdictional ESD using electronic credentials across jurisdictions.
From a client point of view, of course, “digital ID cards” should be enough to take people anywhere they want to go – after all, you don’t need a dozen licences to drive anywhere in Canada. But the jurisdictions providing the services know it isn’t that easy.
The working group had to start at the beginning, by developing cross-jurisdictional language to describe the components and levels of trust for IA&A systems and then testing that language against one business sector function.
The group has developed an initial set of terms and definitions and broken ground on a pilot project to test its concepts. A glance at the guiding principles shows the detail involved: Consistent user experience; cross-jurisdictional; transparent; customer-focused; cost-effective, respectful of the policy and legal framework of each jurisdiction; and, technology-neutral.
An initial change of address application was deemed insufficiently challenging, so the pilot has expanded to include Web-based filing of the federal Record of Employment for businesses registered in British Columbia. Governance has emerged as an issue of concern, however, and participants at Lac Carling were asked to assist in setting priorities for the next 12 months.
In the first round of voting on a governance model, the option of Memoranda of Understanding between participants fell by the wayside with only 21 per cent support. Participants were divided, however, between the notion of standards and accreditation with no formal governance and a governance forum of senior government executives.
In the subsequent run-off between those two choices, participants were 59 per cent in favour of developing a set of standards and accreditation with no formal governance. In setting “target markets” for further research, participants ranked Government to Citizen initiatives the top priority at 39 per cent, followed by Government to Business at 32 per cent, Government to Government at 20 per cent and Internal Efficiencies at nine per cent.
— CGR staff
IPAC joins Lac Carling
The Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) has become a partner in the Lac Carling Congress. The new partnership was announced at this year’s Congress by IPAC vice-president Wynne Young.
“IPAC’s direction, goals and pursuits in the world of public administration complement those of the Lac Carling Congress,” said Young, chair of the Saskatchewan Public Service Commission.
“IPAC has long admired Lac Carling’s horizontal approach, which brings all spheres of government together – with vendors – with a goal of seamless public service to Canadians.” Young said IPAC has much in common with the Public Sector Service Delivery Council and the Public Sector CIO Council, which drive most of the agenda at the Congress.
The partnership is intended to form a strong alliance to raise the profile, prestige and effectiveness of the two organizations, Young said.
SPECIFICALLY, IPAC IS TO:
• Promote the partnership to IPAC members, as well as on the IPAC Web site;
• Pursue activities to raise the profile and goodwill of both organizations, and
• Provide a forum for discussions arising the Lac Carling Congress in IPAC publications.
THE CONGRESS IS TO:
• Position IPAC as the national public service organization partner for the Lac Carling program;
• Promote IPAC’s involvement in the Congress through publications and Web sites of IT World Canada, and
• Ensure an IPAC presence at Lac Carling sessions.
“The theme of ‘private sector/civil society working together’ is consistent throughout IPAC’s activities, especially in alliances such as Lac Carling,” Young said. “A partnership between the groups seems natural.”