Government Outsourcing - Ask the citizen

Saga Prefecture is located on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu. Facing a budget crisis Mr. Furukawa, the newly elected governor, started one of Japan’s most ambitious reform programs in 2003. It included yearly budget cuts of 15% while at the same time allowing allowing granting departments more flexibility, an organizational redesign and cultural change towards citizen centricity. One of the latest innovative measures was the release of a list with 236 government areas/ processes in October 2006. The public was then asked for outsourcing/public private partnership proposals. Anyone was welcome to participate.

Hiroichi Kawashima, Saga’s CIO, and his team worked together with all departments to identify the outsourcing “candidates”. Their final list consisted of 236 areas/processes but the public was also allowed to make suggestions for the remaining 1791 areas/processes. The submission deadline ended in November 2006. Surprisingly, only 1/5 of proposals are directed at the 236 areas/processes identified by public servants. The team is currently reviewing the 361 proposals from individuals, NGO’s and non recognized organizations. Thereafter, the will announce which proposals have been accepted and will do a public tender. They are also discussing of doing a second round of proposal submissions.

I think this is a very unique way for governments to tap into the creativity and resources of their citizens. I will keep you posted about further developments.

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