Taking Steps Toward Citizen-Centered Service Delivery.

Position:News & Numbers

Governments have traditionally provided services through a programmatic business model--that is, service is delivered by program-specific delivery channels owned by individual departments and duplicated at each and every level of government. This looks logical from inside the government, but from the viewpoint of citizens, it is complex and confusing. There is duplication, overlap, and replication among departments, levels of government, and community organizations. "Citizen-Centered Service Delivery" a paper from the IBM Curam Research Institute, notes that citizens want their government to understand their needs and circumstances, and focus on finding ways to help them. They want to receive the same level of service from the public sector as the private sector.

To provide a transformation in service delivery, the paper suggests that governments need to do more than provide good service, when it is needed; decrease the cost of providing the service; and achieve better outcomes. They also need to implement the following ideas at the same time, with a deliberate focus on understanding the positive impact they can have on the public:

  1. Look at what outcomes are desired and how current offerings achieve that; examine the opportunities to reduce overlap; and address the gaps in the service offerings.

  2. Review the design, availability, and alignment of service delivery channels and optimize the service delivery in each of them. This means making sure that wherever citizens go, they can get access to all the services they need.

  3. Find a way to take account of priority, complexity, and risk so that processing applications for services and benefits are automated where possible and only ask people to do the things that are truly required.

  4. Make sense of the overlap among departments, governments, and nongovernmental organizations, and work with their collaborative nature to achieve the desired outcomes.


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