Archive for the ‘Networked Government’ Category

Options for Government N-1-1 non-emergency public service solutions / Behördenrufnummer 115

Dienstag, Dezember 11th, 2007

The move to establish an easy to remember number (311) for non-emergency government services has lately gained attention around the globe. There are now initiatives underway in Germany (D115) and the UK (101). After 10 years, more and more counties and cities decide to start 311 projects. Yet 311 is far from being available for the whole population in the U.S. if we consider an earlier post of mine (map of U.S./Canadian 311 service center projects). In order to discuss the alternative or future options of 311 I will first take a look at the general options a government can follow to establish the phone as public service delivery channel. Part I will present the five options. The combination of performance management and service centers is mostly excluded to reduce complexity. The models are based on a country with a federal government structure. Part II which will be added in a couple of days will discuss the future of 311 and issues such as performance management.

The central approach
At first glance it is probably the easiest way to set up a central service center for any government. This can be a single, big service center or a number of service centers which are virtually connected. In Figure 1 below a service-center that covers more than one level of government (either of the same level e.g. several cities or several cities and a county) is called “Regional Service Center”. The core aspect of this concept is the central character: Governance, finance (e.g. federal budget) and data bases. While centrality makes many things like setting standards or reducing redundancies easy, data bases are the central challenge of this approach. Not the technology but rather the content. Just gathering and maintaining the data from all levels of governments sounds like a goal that is either unrealistic (if we consider the principle of subsidiarity in a federal state which is many times protected by the constitution) or never ending. Moreover, if we think of the way 311 is used as a tool for performance management and tapping into the local knowledge of citizens there is challenge on how this data gets redistributed to the right sources.


Figure 1: The Central Approach

The 311 approach
I am not going into much detail here. An advantage of 311 is that it avoids the political battles of a central approach or the move to start with a multi-jurisdictional approach. Figure 2 shows the current situation in the U.S. We have mostly 311 centers on the local level. They may have information on higher jurisdictions in their data bases but they are generally not fully integrated in the service value chain. A few Regional Service Centers can be found already. For example, Miami-Dade County has integrated the City of Miami. 34 cities have not been integrated yet. The challenge of administrators in Miami-Dade derives from budget constraints (property tax issue) or the regulatory environment. An additional challenge is to come up with finance and service level agreements that result in benefits for both sides and a sustainable service to the citizens. As one administrators once pointed out to me: “Setting up the call center and data base is easy. Changing the integrated administrations (departments) and preparing them for the change in citizens’ expectation is the real challenge”. Finally, Figure 2 also points to two further issues of this approach. First, 311 results in a lot of isolated and many times redundant relationships (either data or other form of agreements). Second, it is difficult to realize country wide accessibility. Less populated areas, therefore, the municipalities will lack the financial and HR capacity to realize 311 on their own.


Figure 2: The 311 Approach

The Central/311 Hybrid approach
This model (Figure 3) is generally a combination of the central and the 311 approach. Certain information and services that are provided by higher jurisdictions (here: State/Federal) are managed and available from a central unit/access point. This avoids some of the redundancies of the 311 approach. Regional and local service centers may develop at different speeds and provide varying degrees of services. Therefore, political battles are less likely to come up as would be the case in the central model. Service centers are not exchanging their local data or services with other service centers.


Figure 3: The Central/311 Hybrid Approach

The Networked Approach
The networked approach generally builds on most of the components described in the 311 model. The core difference is that all of the service centers build a network. Information is shared widely while each service center integrates government entities based on its needs or plans. Figure 4 shows the complexity of the network and the probability of creating highly redundant activities and relationships. In order for the network to function all members need to establish some form of governance to solve issues of standards and coordination.


Figure 4: The Networked Approach

The Multi-centric Approach
The Multi-centric approach combines aspects of the central, 311 and network approach. It characteristics of a central approach because there are central units/db which provide information/services/coordination for a certain subset of service-centers within one “center”. The service centers can evolve at different speeds and service-depths. They can be local or regional service centers. Therefore, the multi-centric approach starts like the current 311 activities. However, there is a core difference. Within one “center” the service centers are supposed to coordinate their efforts. In addition, there is a central unit (see top left of Figure 5) which coordinates and supports (e.g. good practice sharing, etc.) the overall efforts of all the “centers” and the service centers. Finally, the multi-centric approach also adopts the idea of the network approach. Each center shares information/services with other centers.


Figure 5: The Multi-centric Network Approach

The multi-centric model is currently the favored approach for the introduction of the project “D115 Behördentelefon / Behördeneinheitliche Rufnummer” in Germany.

Public Policy Schools in Deutschland

Montag, Dezember 10th, 2007

Aktuell ist auf ein Artikel über Public Policy Schools in Deutschland zu finden. Ich habe längere Zeit an der Kennedy School of Government (KSG) verbringen können und bin bis heute begeistert von dem dortigen Umfeld. Auch Erfurt (ESPP) und die Hertie-School konnte ich mir bereits anschauen. Dort ist man auf dem richtigen Weg. An dieser Stelle sei auch auf Speyer verwiesen. Von der deutschen Politik bzw. der Verwaltung aus sollte die Weiterbildung und rege Austausch (an der KSG gibt es diverse Executive Workshops in denen zu aktuellen Themen Verwaltungskräfte und auch teilweise Wirtschaft für 2-3 Tage zusammen kommen) stärker gefördert werden. Für Schulen wie Hertie und ESPP bedeutet eine vermehrte Nachfrage aber auch, eine größere Stückzahl an deutschen bzw. europäischen Fallstudien zu generieren um Attraktiv zu bleiben. Hier könnten Hertie oder ESPP in Zukunft klar gegenüber KSG punkten, da man an der KSG aktuell meist auf Fallstudien aus den USA bzw. dem angelsächsischen Raum zurückgreift.

Finding Talent in Government

Freitag, November 16th, 2007

Governments worldwide are facing three issues of importance. Many experienced administrators will retire which also results in a drain of knowledge. Furthermore, governments have to do more with less and be innovative by i.e. exploiting the benefits of ICT while at the same time cutting budgets. I recently read an article about new government recuriting methods which nicely illustrates Granovetter’s theory of weak ties for job finding and possible utilization of SNS in government.

“All over the country, municipalities are widely reporting that it’s hard to recruit city managers, technology directors, engineers and people with expertise in the fields of accounting and finance. States seem to be having a little easier time of it right now, especially if they are in the heady throes of gubernatorial transition. In Massachusetts and New York, private-sector experts in areas ranging from public health to homeland security have been enticed to lend a hand to ambitious new governors, even though it has meant putting another career on hold and taking a huge hit in salary […] When Antonio Villaraigosa became mayor of Los Angeles in 2005, his headhunters required all potential high-level aspirants to apply online, says his transition chief and now chief of staff, Robin Kramer. In the end, Villaraigosa ended up filling most of his top jobs the tried-and-true way: He approached people who were known to him or his top staff or who were referred by some other trusted source. “

In order to find the right people governments are increasingly tapping into headhunters, web based job platforms and certainly social networking sites like LinkedIn to widen their choice of possible candidates.

Call for Papers: 6th international EGOV conference 2007

Montag, April 2nd, 2007

Regensburg, September 3 - 7, 2007

Submission Deadline: February 15, 2007

The annual EGOV conferences bring together leading researchers and professionals from all over the globe and from many disciplines. Over the years, the interest has increased tremendously. The 2006 conference attracted about 130 participants from 28 countries all over the world including developing countries, with 30 contributions in outstanding research, 30 contributions in ongoing research, 15 projects contributions and 5 workshops. Hence the EGOV Conferences have become a reunion for academics and professionals as well as an important ground for networking.

General information for the EGOV conference can be found at; Info on the location and for further conferences at the DEXA conference cluster.

Cross boundary collaboration and eGovernment: PNG Working Paper

Samstag, Februar 10th, 2007

Administrative and political leadership need to use their growing understanding of
eGovernment to come up with strategies that help them crossing the boundary between organizatonal units for better collaboration and coordination. My PNG working paper “Crossing the boundary - Why putting the e in Government is the easy part” reviews the current status of eGovernment projects and research from around the globe and offers additional insights in how to overcome these challenges.


Figure: Modified Gartner eGovernment Hype Cycle

Government Social Software - SNS in Japan Part IV: Connecting the cases to the literature

Donnerstag, Februar 1st, 2007

Today’s post ends my entry series on the use of local Social Networking Services by Japanese municipal governments.

Even without knowing the respective research and terms interviewees made the correct assumptions about social networks or tell stories reflecting results of social networks and social support in disaster literature. Drawing for example on the narrative of the family that was helped by many strangers after a the mother of a sons friend (weak tie) wrote about their flooded house in her “Gorotto Yatchiro” blog which supports Granovetter’s weak tie and Burt’s structural hole role in non routine activities (2004; 1983). Those interviewees who joined the local SNS found new friends on the platform and expanded their social network as concluded by Tindall and Wellman (2001). Furthermore, Soiga NPO is a great example how an organization, once brought into existence for one set of purpose (environmental activities), can also aid others for different purposes described by Coleman, thus constituting social capital available for use (1988). The NPO’s blogs were considered a trusted source and can provide an alternative to the mass media which is regarded by many individuals as a more credible source of risk information than government (McComas, 2001). A centralized approach to the provision and publication of local information might not be fine-grained enough to cater to the viral and capillary spread of word-of-mouth information anyway. This informal interaction can only be supported by recognizing the peer-to-peer nature of local interaction which is distinct from the conventional many-to-many, few-to-many, or one-to-many broadcast nature of other online interaction (Foth, 2006). In the past this role was taken by neighbourhood organizations which are already impacted by demographic and cultural change (young generations are not really interested in joining).
Finally, if the majority of the population would be represented on local SNS platform, sociograms could provide snapshots of networks and interaction structures. From these types of diagrams government and citizens can visually identify emergent positrons and clusters of interaction. By examining these patterns of mediated and unmediated interaction they could gain an added perspective on communication structures that underpin explicit community processes as well as those that support affective, less instrumental behaviors (Garton, Haythornthwaite, & Wellman, 1997). Privacy might be a concern for citizens of course. At the moment, local SNS can serve the functions of managing and building social networks. In disasters it covers the areas of “observe and report” and “warn and inform”. Along the lines of La Porte, I argue that the design and rules of the network constrain the character, use and content of member roles and exchanges and the network (1996). Consequently, local SNS could support the community and government beyond its current scope.

Sidenote: As I heard this week MIC is planing to extend their local SNS pilot with 10 other cities. I will keep you posted.

Government Social Software - SNS in Japan Part III: Some observations

Donnerstag, Januar 18th, 2007

In today’s entry I would like to make some comments on the two Japanes local government SNS case studies I presented earlier.

Mr. Kobayashi, the member of Yatsushiro’s IT department, has a key role for the future development and functionalities of the SNS platform. He started this local SNS completely on his own, inspired by the rise of private social networking platforms and personal interest in technology. His government membership and high level of personal involvement ensure the sustainability of “Gorotto Yatchiro”. By comparison, “Ococo Nagaoka” is managed by an actor outside of government. The NPO, although well connected, has less leverage on the level government support and involvement. Government officials reportedly evaluate success by the quantity of users which influences their willingness of support. Therefore, “Ococo Nagaoka” is in a critical state (only 600-700 users).

Many online activities (i.e. exchanges) are depending on a critical mass for others to be attractive, a criteria which has not been met in both cases (1%< of the total population) and both mostly exclude older generations. In addition, both are competing with big platforms like Mixi.

If the local SNS has more users, the load on technology and burden on involved managers will also grow. Mr. Kobayashi would not be able to monitor user behavior without further help if that happens. Although officials claim to learn something from citizens, there is nobody checking the information in the citizens’ blogs.
Mr. Kobayashi is right when pointing to the importance taking a gradual approach of getting more users and introducing the platform. However, government marketing is not helping much and poorly done which reminded me of discussions with administrators who were wondering about the slow user uptake in their eGovernment projects.

Although Mr. Kobayashi added the map feature, functionality and design of existing platforms led to an early framing of his understanding of the possibilities and limits of local SNS. The lack of feedback by other people in the creation process is certainly a reason why its use in disaster or the government citizen relationship is not fully exploited. Administrative members would also be more willing to join, add content and engage with the citizen if there would be a considerable and visible amount of support by executive level administrators. Again, Mixi and Gree formed their perception of SNS so that in their words local SNS is mainly a way to interact with the public and offer it a way to interact with each other. They miss the aspect of building social capital.

Moreover, MIC should have planned a longer pilot phase since the tendency of a slow user uptake was already visible in the data for Yatsushiro. Central government is still influential in Japan so MIC could have also done more to inform and motivate the public and administrators alike.