The complexities of modern high value procurement are nowhere clearer than in the acquisition of information technology. The centrality of good IT to government operations and client service is fundamental, but the hardware and software capacities are changing quickly and hu mans are having a hard time keeping up. Vendors have pitched various kinds of “partnership” with the intent of keeping the buyer technologi cally up to date, but the commercial terms often tie the buyer to a single vendor’s solution at a high price. Despite the undeniable merits of a properly structured “public private partnership,” such deals depend entirely on a sophisticated public sector “buyer,” able to negotiate on even terms with the well paid professionals from the relevant industry. It is little wonder that the concept, so well applied in the United Kingdom, where great investments in the necessary public sector expertise have been made, is now received with a degree of skepticism in Canada.
The paragraphs above all deal with procurement under the assump tion that honest people are merely trying to maximize their utilities un der reasonable sets of rules. But of course the procurement game at tracts more than its fair share of the corrupt and the corruptible. Can ada has experienced its own exuberant form of cowboy capitalism in this field too, and many of the procedures put in place over the years have been aimed at deterring, exposing, and punishing criminal or im proper behaviour. Many of the systems that serve the objective of fair and efficient procurement also mitigate against criminal behaviour, but the sanctions attending the latter are also important.
Proposal Working with Russian colleagues, the Canadian side should prepare a paper that looks at Canadian experience with the ten priorities for ac tion suggested in the “Concept Paper”. The paper would draw on re cent federal government internal reviews as well as the open literature and discussions with both buyers and sellers. It would critically review problems and attempted solutions raised in the “Concept Paper” from the viewpoint of Canadian experience. Depending on the coverage that the Russian side might want, some extensions into other national and supranational practices could be added to this core.
Key success factors in alternative service delivery The prerequisites for success in alternative service delivery ar rangements include:
• A true and steadfast commitment on the part of the government and its political leaders to restructure government systems, roles and relationships. This means the willingness to ask and answer This annex draws from Robin Ford and David Zussman. Alternative Service Delivery:
Transcending Boundaries. (Toronto: KPMG and IPAC, 1997), 275–8.
tough questions about existing programs and delivery systems that require fundamental reform and transformation and to eliminate or improve programs and services that are ineffective and inefficient. It also means dealing with the inevitable political costs, the opposition that will mount from the proposed changes, and the losers who will perceive to be disadvantaged by the changes.
• The presence of a government wide champion with sufficient authority and influence to makes things happens and happen fast when necessary.
• A commitment by government to a citizen centred approach to quality service delivery.
A framework for the development of an appropriate strategy for al ternative service delivery, whether it is across the board and compre hensive or targeted and selected. Such a framework must provide the basis for careful and deliberate analysis and planning of alternative ser vice delivery arrangements.
A positive set of attitudes and a degree of cooperation between the originating government departments currently delivering services and the new agencies or organizations who will be taking on the new service delivery responsibilities.
The capacity of government to put in place the necessary “adminis trative plumbing” (legislation, resources, professional public service employees, accountability frameworks, and policy direction and guid ance) to enable ensure that alternative service delivery arrangement can actually be implemented.
The design and implementation aspects for success in alternative service delivery include.
Depending on the circumstances it may be unwise to begin the process of restructuring by developing alternatives service delivery ar rangements in areas of high political interest and sensitivity.
Attention must be given to the concerns of ministers and their most senior officials that they are “losing” operational control.
It is therefore critically important to emphasize in contracts and agreements, the central role that ministers play in determining public policy, setting targets, establishing fees, and monitoring and reporting results.
It must be recognized that there are at least three types of account ability: to the legislation, to regulation, and to the contract.
Supporting legislation is usually a sign of government commitment.
Consideration should be given to who gets credit and blame for suc cess or failure.
• Agreement on roles, particularly the lead and supporting roles of the Ministry.
• Agreement on the access routes to government for the ASD organi zation and its clients.
• Agreement on the role of central agencies throughout the develop ment and implementation of the ASD arrangement.
• Establishment of a systematic approach to the agreed distribution of powers.
• Creation of new databases or reliance on the market in order to meet the requirements for new performance measures.
Understanding that information technology can be very helpful in making the new relationships work and in providing new links between policy and delivery, but recognize that information technology, in and of itself, is not alternative service delivery.
The need to develop well written service delivery agreements, qual ity management plans, and other monitoring and measuring instru ments.
Interrelationship Issues Among Stakeholders:
• The need for extensive consultation with those affected.
• Recognize that the basic intent of the ASD arrangement is to establish new relationships between citizens and government.
• The need to pay particular attention to the voluntary, non profit sector to ensure it has the capacity to take on new responsibilities that are part of the ASD arrangement.
• Recognize the difficulty of changing deeply entrenched roles within existing government and non government organizations.
People and Managerial Issues:
• Develop new and essential skills for those involved in the planning and implementation of ASDs.
• Attention to the issues of concern to organized labour unions.
• Recognize that the common attributes of ASDs are the use of commercial accounting, the ability to finance operations and make investments, full costing and pricing, efficient infrastructure, flexibility in staffing and human resources, regular evaluation, and public reporting of results.
Evaluation techniques and tools Performance Indicators Performance indicators are measures of inputs, processes, outputs, outcomes, and impacts for development projects, programs, or strate gies. When supported with sound data collection — perhaps involving formal surveys—analysis and reporting, indicators enable managers to track progress, demonstrate results, and take corrective action to im prove service delivery.
Benefit Cost and Cost Effectiveness Analysis Benefit cost and cost effectiveness analysis are tools for assessing whether or not the costs of an activity can be justified by the outcomes and impacts. Benefit cost analysis measures both inputs and outputs in monetary terms. Cost effectiveness analysis estimates inputs in mone tary terms and outcomes in non monetary quantitative terms (such as improvements in student reading scores).
Benefit cost Analysis is a method of evaluating the relative merits of alternative public investment projects. It is a way of identifying, portray ing and assessing the factors which need to be considered in making rational economic choices. It entails adjusting conventional business profit and loss calculations of the estimated streams of revenues and costs over the expected life of the project. The streams of revenues and costs occurring over time are compared by discounting them at some selected interest rate to arrive at the present value of benefits and costs. Benefit cost Analysis reflects social instead of private objec tives, criteria and constraints in evaluating investment projects.
Appraisal of public investment projects entails a wider range of benefits and costs than a private investment. For example, a public transportation project would include environmental costs in addition to transportation costs and savings. The outputs of some public projects do not have market prices associated with them. Benefit cost Analysis imputes dollar values to these outputs, usually by estimating what con sumers would be willing to pay for them. Similarly, when inputs of pro jects do not have market prices, the dollar values of the inputs must be estimated.
The Logical Framework Approach The logical framework (LogFrame) helps to clarify objectives of any project, program, or policy. It aids in the identification of the expected causal links—the “program logic”—in the following results chain: in puts, processes, outputs (including coverage or “reach” across benefi ciary groups), outcomes, and impact. It leads to the identification of performance indicators at each stage in this chain, as well as risks which might impede the attainment of the objectives. The LogFrame is also a vehicle for engaging partners in clarifying objectives and design ing activities.
Client Satisfaction (or Service Delivery) Survey A Survey is used to assess the performance of government services based on client experience. The survey or questionnaire can shed light on the constraints clients face in accessing public services, their views about the quality and adequacy of services, and the responsiveness of government officials. These surveys are usually conducted by a gov ernment ministry or agency.
Citizen Report Cards have been conducted by NGOs and think tanks in several countries. Similar to service delivery surveys, they have, for example, investigated the extent of corruption encountered by ordi nary citizens. A notable feature has been the widespread publication of the findings.
Rapid Appraisal Methods survey Key informant interview—a series of open ended questions posed to individuals selected for their knowledge and experience in a topic of interest. Interviews are qualitative, in depth, and semi structured. They rely on interview guides that list topics or questions.
Focus group discussion—a facilitated discussion among 8–12 care fully selected participants with similar backgrounds. Participants might be beneficiaries or program staff, for example. The facilitator uses a discussion guide. Note takers record comments and observations.
Community group interview—a series of questions and facilitated discussion in a meeting open to all community members. The inter viewer follows a carefully prepared questionnaire.
Direct observation—use of a detailed observation form to record what is seen and heard at a program site. The information may be about ongoing activities, processes, discussions, social interactions, and ob servable results.
Mini survey—a structured questionnaire with a limited number of close ended questions that is administered to 50–75 people. Selection of respondents may be random or ‘purposive’ (interviewing stake holders at locations such as a clinic for a health care survey).
Benchmarking Benchmarking is a technique to exploit the best efficiency and effec tiveness result (also called the “best practices zone”). Efficiency is de fined as the cost per unit of output. Effectiveness is measured in terms of meeting or exceeding a non financial performance standard. To estab lish benchmarks, accurate financial and operational data are required. A best practice is the work processes used to deliver the benchmark result.
The work processes are a combination of policies, procedures, and the chain of activities that produce this optimal result. To establish best practices, the benchmark organization must supply documentation on its policies, procedures, and work processes (“activity maps”).
In the municipal sphere, the Ontario Municipal CAO’s Benchmarking Initiative consists of the following steps136:
• select programs and services for benchmarking using municipal staff in “expert panels”;
• develop service profiles mapping services, sub services and activi ties and the performance indicators at each level;
• collect and analyze the data on efficiency, effectiveness and com munity impact measures;
• establish the performance zone that graphically designates the best performers;
• assess the service and delivery practices of the benchmarking par ticipants which occupy the performance zone so that low cost/high quality performance can be defined and emulated;
http://www232.pair.com/ombi3/docs/OMBIEnvironmentalScan.doc • evaluate the benchmarking process and the opportunities for im provement.
The OMBI has published information on benchmarking in several ar eas of interest137.