The emergence of the Internet has given rise to internal connectivity and external, online delivery as centrepieces of both the public and private sector service strategies alike. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a critical assessment of both the Canadian federal government’s experience to date and the prospects of success for Service Canada – the new lead entity for citizen-centred service delivery in a multi-channel environment. Our primary interest lies in better understanding the organizational (managerially and politically) dimensions to this transformation and the extent to which these dimensions are well aligned in a suitable governance framework that encompasses shifting patterns of service delivery at both the federal level, and for the Canadian public sector as a whole. The Service Canada experience to date illustrates the governance complexities surrounding the introduction and pursuit of e-services and more integrated service delivery. More than a technological challenge, the realization of a new business model is the primary challenge in succeeding.
Electronic Service Delivery And The New Governance Imperative1
A useful point of departure is to conceptually define e-government as - the continuous innovation in the delivery of services, citizen participation, and governance through the transformation of external and internal relationships by the use of information technology, especially the Internet.2Within this wide lens three images of e-government – in terms of the underlying objectives, have been well summarized by Remmen (2004) in the following manner: i) efficiency - cost reductions; ii) public service - better quality, easier access (i.e. 24/7), new services; and iii) democracy - participation and interactive dialogue. Since for most public sector leaders the initial impetus for thinking about online dimensions to government operations came from the ‘service’ dimension, this chapter situates the nature of e-government’s evolution primarily within and between the first two of these images – efficiency and public service reform. Nonetheless, the relevance of democracy remains as key contextual dimension of any public sector restructuring.