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«EUROPEAN COMMISSION Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology Sustainable and Secure Society Public Services A vision ...»

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Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology

Sustainable and Secure Society

Public Services

A vision for public services

Draft version dated 13/06/2013

Disclaimer: The Public Services unit in DG CONNECT has drafted "A vision for public services" with the aim of

outlining the long-term vision for a modern and open public sector and the way public services may be

delivered in an open government setting (enabled by ICT), i.e. how public services may be created and delivered seamlessly to any citizen and business at any moment of time. Working towards this vision, efforts will continue to move towards, inter alia, full digital reporting to the public sector, seamless cross-border public services, full implementation of the once only principle and enhanced user friendliness, as these can indeed show clear benefits and increase take-up in the medium term.

Feedback/ comments are welcome to the 'Public Services' unit in DG CONNECT (European Commission):

Cnect-egovernment@ec.europa.eu Mechthild.Rohen@ec.europa.eu Summary The rapid transformation of our society and the digital revolution, along with budgetary pressures pose challenges for governments and the future of public services. This paper looks into a possible approach; the open and collaborative government model, based on the principles of collaboration, transparency and participation. Following a brief historical overview that points towards a public value and empowerment focused approach, the drivers of the model are examined; citizen-, technological- and economic-cost driven issues are assessed, along with the stocktaking of a number of new public policy trends in support of open government and collaboration. The paper then outlines the concrete mechanism of the model, based on some first attempts to categorise the various forms of collaborative public service production. In order to better understand the impact of this paradigm shift, the expected benefits, necessary enabling conditions and technologies as well as possible measurement tools are discussed [1].

1. Challenges The evolution of society requires public administrations to tackle many new challenges, including those around demographic change, employment, mobility, security, environment and many others.

The recent technological innovations such as open data and take up of social media lead to more information and knowledge exchange [2] as well as enhanced connectivity, openness and transparency on all levels [3]. Citizens today are more aware of their rights, have better access to information on public services and consequently have higher expectations of service levels, especially as they become accustomed to private sector organisations providing customisation and other benefits. Furthermore, a number of countries have empowered citizens with "Right to information" legislation [4]. Citizens and businesses are therefore expecting better and more individualised public Commission européenne/Europese Commissie, 1049 Bruxelles/Brussel, BELGIQUE/BELGIË - Tel. +32 22991111 Office: BU 31 2/59 - Tel. direct line +32 229-56382 andrea.halmos@ec.europa.eu solutions and services, efficient and effective service delivery, burden reduction, transparency and participation.

At the same time, economic and budgetary pressures force governments to be ever more efficient, reduce costs and be more competitive in a multi-polar world. These challenges, coupled with the financial crisis have created renewed momentum for the modernisation of public administration.

In order to meet these demands, new and creative ways have to be found that improve quality and provide customised solutions, while reducing costs [5].

2. An approach to the future of public services: open and collaborative government Public services are services offered to the general public and/or in the public interest [6] with the main purpose of developing public value. Public value is the total societal value that cannot be monopolised by individuals, but is shared by all actors in society and is the outcome of all resource allocation decisions [7].

As public services need to become more efficient and effective, governments have to consider innovative new ways of developing and organising the public sector for creating public value. Thus, transformation needs to address the way public value is created [8].

The future of government is less and less in the hands of governments alone. Technology has empowered ordinary citizens by offering them a way to make their voices heard and challenge government leaders about their ability and willingness to address public concerns and requests [9]. It is no longer governments alone (the visible hand) or the market alone (the invisible hand) that will respond to these challenges; now also all and any partnerships and groups (many hands) are needed [10]. The increased connectivity of citizens and businesses, the possibility for people to work together, perform tasks and distribute workload regardless of distance and boundaries as well as the availability of previously closed information and data mean that government tasks can also be performed - completely or in part - by citizens, companies and others [1].

A possible approach to pursue is therefore triggered by the advent of social media, ubiquitous mobile connectivity and web 2.0 activities, which allow not just for mass dissemination but also for mass production and collaboration [11]. The term co-production is not new, what is new is the ability of this form of citizen and user engagement as a source of innovation; the implementation of new or significantly improved ways of providing public goods and services [12].

It is considered that engaging with the wider public can help meet the challenge of rising expectations. It will make the services more user-friendly and effective, improve the quality of decision-making, promote greater trust in public institutions and thus enhance public value [13].

This approach, driven by opening up and sharing assets - making data, services and decisions open enables collaboration and increases bottom-up, participative forms of service design, production and delivery. The kind of public sector organisation that is at the heart of this transformation is open government, based on the principles of collaboration, transparency and participation and functioning within an open governance framework (Figure 1).

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3. Historical overview Public services and public value are provided in a framework that defines the structures, roles and relationships governing how society functions. This governance structure and public value have undergone a number of paradigm shifts in the past. Whereas in the 18th century liberal values were central, in the 19th and the 20th centuries Western democracies evolved towards welfare states, predominantly built on the Weberian bureaucracy of which functional division, centralisation and hierarchy are key characteristics [8].

The transformation of the 21st century shifted towards empowerment values; the ability and incentive to participate [15], by increasing the capacity of people to function in society [8], empowering citizens and communities to enhance their own as well as collective benefits, extending transparency and openness, personalising services for individual users and empowering the individual service users [8]. In this context the provision of public services is oriented towards the creation of public value and user empowerment [16].

Government is not the only provider of public services, as shown by the examples of privatisation, philanthropy and self-help [17]. In Ancient Greece and Rome governments contracted out for example tax collection, army supplies, religious sacrifices and construction to the private sector [17].

The creation of the modern state in the 16th century favoured centralisation and public provision, while the 20th century saw a tendency towards privatisation again [17]. Following the rise of the welfare state, the neo-liberal policies embraced privatisation and liberalisation in certain sectors and demonstrated again that governments indeed are not the only ones to provide these services. The emergence of the voluntary non-profit sector [18] - although originating from the 19th century – became especially recognised for the delivery of public services in the 1980s [17]. Self-help also has old roots; it became an important social policy concept in the 19th century through the increasing importance of mutual organisations and cooperatives and is now being revived again as social innovation [17]. Other examples include regionalisation efforts in the provision of public services [19], involving local people in a wide range of policy decisions through ‘bottom-up’ initiatives [20], or the development of public-private partnerships to deliver innovative solutions [15]. While government is not the only possible provider of public service, it has traditionally been responsible for supporting the realisation of public value [16]. Therefore, regardless of the mechanism of service provision, if public services are to become more effective and efficient, they need to also focus on maximising positive outcomes in terms of public value rather than merely minimising costs [21].

4. Drivers of the open and collaborative government approach

The drivers of the open and collaborative government approach may be grouped around citizendriven, technology-driven as well as economic-cost driven issues [21]. In addition, there are a number of supporting public policy trends that point towards the same model.

4.1. Citizen-driven issues The recent technological changes lead to a more interdependent, networked world [22] or "networked information economy" [2] that is changing relations in society and the way public value is created; it changes user behaviour.

The age of networked intelligence [23] or "Society 2.0" [24] - enabled by digital technologies and existing networks - fosters greater interaction between institutions, citizens and public and private organisations [24]. The impact of the technological transformation will be even greater on "Generation C" - "C" stands for connect, communicate, change - a demographic group born after the 1990s, who are online most of the time, comfortably participate in social networks as well as generate and consume large amounts of formerly private information [25]. Furthermore, partially due to the economic crisis, the younger generation is leading the way toward a "sharing society"; a form of collaborative consumption; renting, lending and even sharing goods instead of buying [26].

Some literature talks of the emergence of a new kind of "social economy"; relying on the intensive use of distributed technology enabled networks and characterised by collaboration and blurred boundaries between production and consumption [27]. In addition, representative democracy is increasingly being joined by participatory tools for engaging the public in debates and decisions [27].

4.2. Technology-driven issues ICT-related innovations enable empowerment; supporting individuals in acquiring knowledge, organising themselves to create, produce and deliver anytime and anywhere. They also allow people to be informed about government, to participate in public debates, hold government accountable, produce and deliver services [8]. Opening up public sector information, the spread of social media tools and networks, the possibility to work through platforms, facilitate the connectivity of citizens and businesses. This makes governments also more networked and enhances co-operation within government and with external stakeholders. This increases the role of non-market, non-proprietary production (e.g. emergence of free and open-source software) and creates new opportunities for exchanging information and knowledge in a decentralised manner [2].

4.3. Economic-cost driven issues Europe needs to mobilise innovation in its public sector if it is to excel and remain internationally competitive in a sector that represents almost 50% of EU GDP and about 17% of employment [28].

Public sector innovation and the modernisation of public administrations are an important underlying factor for economic growth [28]. Addressing problems in the public administration could contribute to fiscal consolidation, competitiveness and growth prospects [29] and also yield considerable public savings [30, 31]. Public administrations have a powerful means to pull innovation; in the EU, the overall market for purchases of goods, services and works by the public sector accounts for almost 20% of GDP [28]. In addition, the public sector is the largest purchaser of IT, and has the single greatest position of strength to influence the market dynamics, both as a strategy leader, and as a purchaser [32].

The public sector is an important data user and a source of data that can generate benefits across the economy. Some evidence shows that by fully exploiting public sector data, governments could reduce their administrative costs. For Europe’s 23 largest governments, some estimate potential savings of 15% to 20% [33]. These figures do not include the additional benefits that would arise from greater access to and more effective use of public-sector information. Estimates suggest the overall economic gains from opening up this resource could amount to € 40 billion a year in the EU [34].

4.4. Public policy trends While public administrations have been making significant efforts to fulfil their policy objectives, the speed at which social, technological and economic changes are happening today, poses a challenge of adaptation. The strategies, governance models and structures of government departments are not appropriately suited to tackle the complex challenges that cut across sectors, departments and countries [27].

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