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Collaborative and Co-operative Partnerships for Service Integration

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Practice Advice on Program and Service Delivery

Collaborative and Co-operative Partnerships for Service Integration (OECD)

Summary Advice: OECD e-government country studies show that a matured e-government environment in a country often eases the political dialogue across levels of government and avoids unnecessary politicisation of e-government collaboration and co-operation within the public sector. The same experiences show that there is often a common understanding of the necessity to collaborate and co-operate among operational e-government civil servants, and they often use informal channels to communicate, collaborate and cooperate.

Main Points:

Countries use different approaches to determine the most suitable decision-making model given the national multi-level governance structure. OECD country experiences show that the decision-making model is usually built around one of the following three concepts:

  • The resource-sharing concept - Resource-sharing is seen as one the main drivers behind service integration. Resource-sharing provides a necessary and needed framework for collaborative and co-operative decision making for e-government development and implementation across levels of government. Examples are decisions regarding allocation of financial, human, and ICT resources for common purposes.
  • The enforcement concept - Enforcing collaboration and co-operation through mutually agreed enforcement mechanisms is a way to ensure that common goals are met; introducing enforcement mechanisms is a stronger expression of a mutual commitment to achieve goals – and thus increase the desire of each of the parties to compromise and make decisions for the common good.
  • The institutionalisation concept - Institutionalisation is a way to “frame” collaborative and cooperative decision making between different parties; it ensures a systematic approach to decision making and common activities are organised in a structured manner with agreed and known processes and common resources to support and implement decisions made.

Tools for collaboration and co-operation

Governments use different types of collaboration and co-operation tools to achieve common objectives for the public sector as a whole.

The resource-sharing concept

  • Co-operation agreements - Co-operation agreements are usually political agreements between a national/federal government, and regional/provincial or local/municipal governments which define specific areas of collaboration and co-operation, budgetary or economic goals/agreements,  and the organisational setup within which to discuss issues or resolve conflicts within the scope of the agreement. •
  • Common visions and policies - Commonly agreed visions and policies as a basis for cocollaborative and operative decision making are probably the most used tool on the supranational level and in OECD countries. Often common visions and policies are easier politically to agree on than more mandatory tools such as legislation and co-operation agreements. Common visions and policies are typically used by international standardisation organisations. 
  • Joint management/task forces - Establishing joint management and task forces within the public sector is a way to break down stove-piped working habits and refocus public service development and delivery on becoming user-centric. 
  • Shared resource organisations - An increasing number of OECD countries such as Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway are creating special organisational structures to facilitate the sharing of generic resources such as information and data, business processes, and internal  (e.g. budgetary, human resource, and ICT) and external (e.g. public online or offline) services. Shared resource centres are increasingly used on sub-national levels to achieve economy of scale or share scarce or very expensive resources (e.g. joint operation of selected costly service areas, joint ICT centres, and joint ICT skills and competencies centres).

The enforcement concept

  • E-Government legislation - Legislative tools are used internationally and nationally in some OECD countries. Internationally, the European Union directives are examples of supranational legislation that affects their member states nationally, regionally, and locally. Nationally, some OECD countries with a more legalistically oriented approach have passed specific e-government legislation aimed at removing barriers for e-government development within the country, impacting all levels of government.
  • Co-operation agreements - In some countries, co-operation agreements is a part of the formal conflict resolution process between levels of government.
  • Monitoring and evaluation - Monitoring through the use of indicators is a powerful levering tool for keeping progress on track. Developing indicators for monitoring and evaluating progress made is closely linked to setting goals in policies and strategies, and the implementing of action plans. An increasing number of OECD countries are adopting and implementing national monitoring frameworks in order to enable actors within the public sector to track their e-government progress.

The institutionalisation concept

Institutionalising decision making is an effective way to create longer term sustainability in the decision-making framework for collaboration and co-operation across levels of government. For e-government development and implementation, institutionalisation improves the medium to long term sustainability of e-government programmes and their implementations.

In addition to the collaboration and co-operation tools used within the public sector, governments at different levels are also using outsourcing to engage the capabilities and competencies of the private or voluntary sector. How much, and which part, of public sector operations are outsourced depends heavily on the political environment and priorities within each government level. OECD countries typically tend to outsource the more technical areas that often require highly specialised skills and competencies, such as technical ICT operations and maintenance.

Another approach to involving the public sector is the use of public-private partnerships. Using public-private partnerships requires that a common business case can be developed where both the private partner and the public sector benefit from such a relationship. Experiences in OECD countries show limited success with these kinds of arrangements within e-government development and implementation. There is a need, therefore, to redesign public-private partnerships as a major asset for joint public-private development projects with mutual benefits, to address different levels of success, where the anticipated results for both the private and the public partners did not always generally emerge or only partially so.

Source: OECD Best Practices for Budget Transparency (2002). [The link to the reference should be an active hyperlink and should be spelled out with date of access as in the following format. At (accessed 14 September 2012).]

Page Created By: Matthew Seddon. The content presented on this page is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases. This material does not necessarily reflect the official view of the publishing organization.

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