We are seeing a growing realization that there is no public sector - or private sector for that part - from a citizens point of view - only services produced somewhere (even if they are subject to policy making and regulation from the public sector - really important task that should not be disturbed by service production). The all-important thing is that the "offering" should not be a stand-alone product or narrow service - but the compilation of elements from relevant providers relevant to this particular everyday practise of a citizen-customer. And the rule should be to always let the user use tools he is already used to - not be highjacked by technology.
As often progress can start from very simple epiphanies. One example is the provision of strong e-id as a service from the banking sector to state and municipalities by letting users log in with familiar e-banking credentials. This is now quite a success story in several countries and tax payers' money is being saved big time.
On the road to this I came across some experience I hope will not be had elsewhere:
- the public sector wanted to create their own tool - a plastic card (apart from big cost to no avail - a form factor that will disappear and become feature in mobile phones)
- all of them did not at first welcome the idea that it was offered as a service - even if banks are well placed as a part of the defence against money laundering and being subject to regulation
- then it was - inevitably - approved as the equally secure, but much cheaper and hands-down preferred-by-citizens alternative to the plastic card
- but it was still not warmly welcomed - all sorts of arguments were heard why the state should issue its own plastic that might become the only one accepted later
Any civil servant today in front of this question will surely ask some simple questions based on our Nordic experience:
1. what do users prefer?
2. can I speed up digitalization by letting citizens use familiar, secure and trusted tools?
3. can I save tax payers money?
The answers are obvious and when acted upon - then public-private partnership for this part is not just words.