http://www1.worldbank.org/publicsector/civilservice/alternative.htm "In our analogy, the forest is the public sector in total; the trees are the traditional, vertical delivery systems; the mists are the uncertainties of change; the shapes are emerging forms of alternative service deliv ery. It is clear that more and more of the shapes are distinguishable as new or innovative – as true alternatives"46.
A Case Approach There are many ways in which different governments have moved forward on various ASD arrangements for government services. Some governments like the United Kingdom have taken comprehensive, across the board approaches putting in place new organizations (ex ecutive agencies) and new arrangements for their entire public sector.
Others like Canada have taken a more targeted approach putting in place considerably fewer, but tailor made ASD arrangements. What ever the approach taken – comprehensive or targeted – one of the most important ingredients for success has been the implementation of a thorough and rigorous case by case analysis of the specific services being considered for ASD. Experience suggests that this analysis should be completed to the satisfaction of the department or agency proposing (or responsible for) the new ASD arrangement. The central agency of government responsible for improved management across government (e.g., the Finance Ministry or a special group of Ministers) must ratify the arrangement. Any new ASD should require the explicit approval of central ministers not just the minister responsible for the service.
Case Analysis is intended to support decision making, implementa tion, ongoing review, and adjustment of the initiative. Case Analysis should be tailored to the specific circumstances and requirements of the government. International experience suggests that it should in clude several steps as outlined below (the Public Interest Test; ASD Plans; Roles and Responsibilities; the Business Case, and Accountabil ity Framework)47.
The Public Interest Test (see Annex 1) should apply the public inter est questions to the proposal and it should include:
Ford and Zussman, 273.
See Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. Policy on Alternative Service Delivery. See http://www.tbs sct.gc.ca/pubs_pol/opepubls_B4asd dmps1_e.asp.
- A baseline analysis addressing client and citizen satisfaction and service improvement priorities, as well as current levels of perform ance for each Public Interest Test question that applies to the initia tive;
- Results commitments for the initiative in response to the Public In terest Test questions;
- A measurement and reporting framework for assessing the results and reporting publicly;
- The mechanisms and authorities available to proponents, depart mental ministers, and central management board ministers to take corrective action (as required) once the initiative is implemented;
and - A plan outlining the cycle of on going review and assessment of results throughout the life of the initiative;
- The extent and depth of this analysis should be in line with the scope, scale and sensitivity of the initiative.
ASD Plans ASD Plans should cover at least three future fiscal years and include ASD initiatives that have annual program spending in excess of a spe cific amount (the Canadian federal governments uses $20 million).
These plans should contain strategies for dealing with proposals that may:
- Pose a significant risk to the continuity of service delivery to citi zens;
- Represent a substantial change to the existing mix of industrial and regional benefits;
- Include sensitive issues in financial or human resource manage ment that require central ministerial direction;
- Have an impact on the rights or entitlements of citizens;
- Contribute significantly to the achievement of the department's mandate; or - Have an impact on official languages.
The ASD Plan should explain the rationale for including initiatives that meet any of these criteria. ASD plans should be submitted to cen tral management board ministers for approval.
When it comes to ASD planning few countries have replicated the care with which the British examine each candidate for “Next Steps” before deciding whether and how to proceed. In the “Next Steps” proc ess, agencies go through a life cycle that typically consists of eight stages (See Annex 2: The Eight Stages in the “Next Steps”).
Roles and Responsibilities Departments should be accountable for assessing the need for im proved organisational performance in the delivery of new and existing programs and services. They should also be responsible for ensuring that ASD initiatives are in the public interest, giving full consideration to the Public Interest Test questions presented in Annex 1.
To ensure that a whole of government approach is taken in deciding on and shaping significant ASD initiatives, central management board ministers and their professional secretariat should have role in the process. This is necessary because these initiatives often have far reaching impacts on other departments, other governments and other sectors, and because, taken as a whole, they can have a significant cumulative impact on the institution of the Public Service. It also en sures that certain ASD initiatives can be undertaken as experiments with appropriate design, support, and reporting.
Business Case The responsible department for each proposed ASD initiative should prepare a business case. The questions addressed in the business case should be considered in relation to the Public Interest Test ques tions.
Does the analysis of costs, risks and benefits provide a compelling rationale for the initiative The business case should be presented in terms of expected benefits, costs (or savings) and risk.
A strong, unambiguous rationale should result from the business case in order to support the decision to change the method of pro gram delivery.
The complete life cycle of the initiative should be considered in de veloping the business case when there is a finite time period.
The business case should analyse more than one alternative. This should include an analysis of potential innovative organisational ar rangements for service delivery within the proponent’s existing or ganisation.
New programs should be assessed with respect to the objectives, expected benefits, and costs of delivering them within an existing or ganisational structure in addition to considering the establishment of a new organisation.
The business case should identify and assess the associated risk with new program delivery proposals and present a strategy for managing the risk to ensure that ASD objectives are realized.
Benefits There should be sufficient and rigorous analysis of non financial, historical and prospective performance information supporting the perceived benefits of the ASD initiative.
Costs The relationship between costs, inputs, outputs and results should be clear.
Qualified experts should undertake financial assessments and cost ing. If the sponsoring department has no expertise in doing cost analy sis, consideration should be given to procuring these services from an external accounting firm or financial advisors.
Wind ups, for example in partnerships, should be considered in terms of termination payments, environmental aftermath, asset distri bution, various human resources issues and the competitive state of the market place for possible re tendering.
Risks ASD initiatives change the risk profile of government programs and services both for the government and for its partners. Transformation in the delivery of programs and services to citizens can result in an overall improvement of the programs or services. For instance, a partner might be in a better position to manage certain aspects of risk because of their knowledge, skills, and the incentive structure within which they operate.
ASD proponents should identify and assess the risks that govern ment and its partners are undertaking as well as develop the manage ment strategies for managing the risks. The proponent should provide the risk assessment and management strategies in the business case but also commit, with its delivery partner, to continually monitor, assess and manage risks of the ASD over time.
A particular focus of risk management with respect to ASD initiatives is the management of the government’s relationships with external partners. It is important to ensure that all parties understand and accept the risks to be undertaken and are sufficiently comfortable with manag ing the different aspects of program/service delivery, such as:
- The environment in which each organisation operates;
- Governance and accountability structures of the arrangement;
- Performance expectations, measures and reporting;
- Capacity of partners to deliver on its responsibilities and obliga tions;
- Complaints and redress mechanisms, and;
- Failure, contingency and termination of the relationship.
Risk management will typically include indicators and control mechanisms that periodically assess the effectiveness of measures in place to avoid unexpected outcomes as well as provide early warning of potential issues where corrective action is necessary.
Incremental risk factors should be identified, assessed and reflected in the Case Analysis so that decision makers have a full understanding of the risks and risk profile.
Management strategies must also be presented to address identi fied risk areas and ensure identified objectives and benefits of the initia tive have the maximum chance of being realized.
For more details on the business case components, with a particular emphasis on human resources issues, see Annex 3.
Accountability Framework Accountability frameworks provide a foundation for improved pro gram outputs and outcomes and better reporting on government per formance to citizens. Accountability is a relationship based on the obli gation to demonstrate and take responsibility for performance in light of agreed expectations.
One of the more common approaches to managing performance expectations is to develop an accountability framework. With ASD ac countability becomes more important but also more complicated. In Canada, frameworks have been developed in collaboration with part ners for many types of collaborative arrangements, including:
- Intergovernmental – domestic;
- Intergovernmental – international;
- Private sector;
- Not for profit sector; or, - A combination of the above.
An approach to the development of an accountability framework in cludes three key steps:
- Identifying key results, such as, what results will be delivered to citi zens;
- Establishing a performance measurement learning approach; and, - Establishing a reporting approach.
Proponents of ASD initiatives should develop an accountability framework to provide for accountability in the use of public funds and to ensure appropriate reporting to Parliament. All parties involved in the initiative should use a coordinated approach to measuring, sharing and reporting performance information thus ensuring its availability. In ASD arrangements, accountability may be shared or may overlap, as is the case with partnering and third party delivery initiatives48.
Performance information demonstrates progress and success in a credible manner. A performance measurement strategy therefore, re quires identifying the best ways to measure different aspects of an ini tiative – service, progress and longer term outcomes. The most effec tive frameworks are flexible and can be adapted to provide perform ance information to meet the specific requirements of the organization.
The accountability framework for an ASD initiative should reflect key results commitments made throughout the Case Analysis.
For a thorough review by the former Auditor General of Canada of the accountability issues arising from alternative service delivery arrangements in that country see, Denis Desautels, “Accountability for Alternative Service Delivery Arrangements in the Federal Government: Some Consequences of Sharing the Business of Government”.
Are the arrangements appropriate for reporting results and other relevant performance information to ministers, Parliament and citizens Will a framework be in place to guarantee that citizens receive value for money and that accountability for the expenditure of public funds and responsibility to Parliament are retained For an example of the components of an accountability framework for use in Alternative Service Delivery arrangements, see Annex 4.
Canadian and International Experience with Alternative Service Delivery Arrangements The extensive Canadian and international experience with alternative service delivery arrangements at national (federal), provincial (state), and municipal (regional and local) levels of government can be as sessed along the continuum of six ASD options: agencies, devolution, purchase of service, partnerships, franchising/licensing, and privatiza tion. This is preferable to a country by country where the particular poli cies, circumstances, and cultures of each government are likely to be a significant factor in determining success.
Agencies The United Kingdom as part of its “Next Steps” strategy has made the most extensive use of “executive agencies” to provide direct ser vices to the public and support services to other parts of the govern ment. These executive agencies operate at arm’s length from their par ent departments in government and have considerable autonomy and freedom of action. This freedom is accompanied by obligations to meet specific financial and operational targets set by their departments.
Since 1988 executive agencies have had a critical role in the delivery of public services. There are now 131 executive agencies employing three quarters of the public service – providing a broad range of public services. The most recent review of the executive agencies by the Comptroller and Auditor General provided an assessment of the role of targets in improving service delivery in 30 executive agencies and three in depth studies of three agencies – Veterans Agency, Forensic Sci ence Service, and Food Standards Agency49. The major finding from this assessment include:
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