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Governments as On-Demand Enterprises

Governments come up to speed with technology

Without the make-or-break competition of the private sector, it might seem that governments have less need to invest in information technology to maximize their efficiency, cut costs, and improve collaboration and service to constituencies.

But the pressures on governments to more efficiently and effectively take timely action are intense. Many are looking to IT, specifically Web-based e-solutions and integrated systems, to help meet these demands.

One of the pressures on government is the need to increase collaboration across agencies and departments so they can securely share information that is needed to take quick and appropriate action. This is critical with today's safety and security issues and the need to manage crises. Yet government employeesmust also balance safety issues with privacy considerations. Furthermore, increased cross-government collaboration is needed to improve overall service.

Governments are also under pressure to maximize operational efficiency so that they can meet the expectations of citizens and businesses for more responsiveness. Many constituencies prefer Web access to government and increasingly want to be able to use it to apply for permits and pay taxes. Governments also need to improve efficiency to meet a range of increasing regulatory requirements.

In addition, pressure to cut costs can be as intense in government today as in the private sector. The worldwide economic slowdown of recent years has cut revenue to governments just as it has private entities. Increasingly, governments are faced with balancing their budgets while providing continuous service to citizens.

To meet these challenges, governments need to integrate their systems across agencies and beyond. They have to focus outside of their organizations while maintaining safe and secure information. It is important that they become on-demand enterprises - organizations in which processes are integrated across all groups and partner institutions, allowing them to respond with speed to business and regulatory needs, changes, opportunities, and threats.

While IBM is working with all types of entities to become on-demand enterprises, the process becomes most valuable in an industry context. "That's because it's about the customer's needs, not speeds and feeds. That's why we seek out the industry issues that are important to our clients. We want a partnership role," said Wayne Janzen, the government market segment manager for IBM's software group.

Being an on-demand enterprise - for governments - means having an empowered workforce that is able to deliver higher-value productivity for its constituents. This allows them to better manage costs as well as to provide fast, high-quality responses to both routine and unexpected events.

IBM is working closely with many governments to help them become on-demand e-governments. A provider of IT solutions to governments since 1932, IBM has the #1 market share for IT solutions to government and both the Gartner Group and the International Data Corporation rank IBM as the #1 e-government solutions provider worldwide. Government is the #2 industry within IBM in terms of expenditure with the company.

IBM's experience with government customers is the foundation for its five middleware solutions designed specifically to address today's most pressing challenges for governments. The solutions are part of its effort to deliver industry middleware solutions - a strategy based on customer buying behavior that indicates they prefer to buy solutions designed for their industry.

Each industry middleware solution contains functions from IBM's WebSphere, Lotus, Tivoli, DB2, and Rational middleware brands combined with industry-specific middleware, applications from independent software vendors (ISVs), and industry-expert services. "By combining a common set of data and integration capabilities with application function from best-of-breed, industry-expert partners, IBM provides solutions that help customers meet constituents' needs and statutory requirements," said Janzen.

The five government solutions are IBM Middleware Solution for On Demand Workplace, IBM Middleware Solution for Government Access, IBM Middleware Solution for Emergency Response, IBM Middleware Solution for Government Collaboration, and IBM Middleware Solution for e-Forms/Records Management.

The on-demand workplace solution enables government employees to access critical applications and find and share information to work together more efficiently to provide services to constituents. "This improves the quality and speed of responses to routine and unexpected events," said Janzen. "It increases productivity and improves morale. It reduces costs."

The on-demand workplace solution decreases workplace complexity and empowers employees by simplifying their access to information and people. It helps governments improve organizational performance with existing staff. The solution reduces risk by providing timely collaboration with experts and more use of best practices.

IBM software in this solution includes Lotus Workplace Team Collaboration, Lotus Workplace Messaging, Lotus Workplace Collaborative Learning, WebSphere Portal, WebSphere Host Integration, Rational Rapid Developer, DB2 Information Integrator, and Tivoli Monitoring for Messaging. The IBM industry-specific middleware includes Global e-Business Solutions Center, WebSphere "As Is" and "To Be" Process Models for Human Resources, Dynamic Team Management Component Capability, WebSphere Portal Catalog, Communities of Practice, and Blended Learning. Industry-specific middleware from business partners includes CSC SmartWorkplace and Pinnacor Government News portlet.

"The on-demand workplace solution can be delivered with consulting and implementation services, as well as the software and hardware, which can be tailored to client needs," said Janzen. "But they don't have to buy a behemoth solution. It builds on existing IT investments. They can buy pieces, then build on them, and phase in on-demand over time."

This phase-in approach is possible with all the government solutions, including the IBM Middleware Solution for Government Access. "The access solution helps governments be more responsive by improving citizen and business access to information and services," said Janzen. "This can also help businesses meet their regulatory and compliance obligations."

The government access solution is designed to support multiple levels of government by providing constituents with continuous, user-friendly access to information, services, and benefits. It can also improve citizen access to critical knowledge with personalization features. It is designed to provide better, faster service via collaboration tools that allow government employees to help citizens through complex online transactions.

"It streamlines processes and improves efficiency by eliminating manual and redundant processes," said Janzen. "The result is a more responsive government, reduced regulatory/compliance burdens, and easy and available self-service." The improved efficiency cuts costs and enables employees to focus on critical issues.

Clients who have implemented the solution successfully include the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the State of Michigan.

The Arizona DMV had experienced an 8% increase in transactions for vehicle registration. The staff could not keep up with the increase and citizens were unhappy with long waits for DMV services. IBM helped the Arizona DMV implement a Web application that citizens can use 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Today, nearly 50% of DMV transactions flow through the ServiceArizona Web application, cutting the cost of processing renewals by 75%.

In Michigan, the state's e-government director wanted a way for citizens, businesses, and employees to access multiple state government functions from a single Web site. IBM helped build a centralized portal without alienating individual state agencies. Similar to the application used in Arizona, it is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, significantly improving service and efficiency.

Providing around-the-clock access to information is also a key part of IBM's Middleware Solution for Government Emergency Response. Emergency responders (law enforcement, emergency response, and transportation management agencies) often use proprietary and incompatible messaging applications and database access systems. This solution provides a complete view of timely information - any time, anywhere - from across government and private organizations so it can be leveraged in response to emergency situations.

The emergency response solution is most valuable in metropolitan regions with multiple law enforcement, emergency response, and transportation management agencies that operate agency-based mobile data communications systems. Agency-based systems generally cannot communicate with systems operated by other agencies.

The solution also securely integrates critical data and enables more rigorous analysis and resource allocation through spatial analysis and visualization capabilities.

"The increased threat of terrorist attacks raises the importance of timely and effective communication among emergency response agencies," said Janzen. "Without it, emergency responses may not be appropriately coordinated and the safety of the public could be unnecessarily jeopardized. With this solution, emergency decision-making can be undertaken with a single view of the best available information in real time."

Use of the best available information is also one of the benefits of the IBM Middleware Solution for Government Collaboration. It enables the integration of processes across governments and government departments to create secure, real-time collaboration.

"The result is faster, higher-integrity, multi-department processes and a flexible enterprise that allows governments to provide new services and improve decision-making, coordination, and response to events," said Janzen. "The collaboration solution reduces risks by providing better information from expert employees, allowing rapid responses to changing policies, and reducing the cost of new services via the flexible architecture," he added.

For example, the United States Army is undertaking a pilot project with this solution. The project will help them gather intelligence information from various sources or formats and quickly distribute critical, sensitive data to key people. It would eliminate inflexible architectures and integrate information and processes that are largely manual and "stove-piped" by department, which prevents collaboration.

The project would create a system that allows faster decision-making and quicker reactions to existing and potential threats. It would be secure and always available, providing real-time communication, coordination, and collaboration among analysts using aggregated data from across organizations.

Management of data across government can also be improved with the IBM Middleware Solution for Government e-Forms/Records Management. Government agencies must comply with numerous laws regarding freedom of information, privacy, and the maintenance of historical and archival records. The volume of electronic and paper forms and records generated each day is tremendous. Governments must track all the e-mails, invoices, and other documentation dispersed throughout their network so they can be accessed when needed and disposed of when they are no longer necessary. Government regulations, as well as industry and legal standards, require this capability.

The e-forms/records management solution allows government employees to control document management and access, reduce paper-based processes and redundant data entry, and manage document retention. It is designed to improve operational efficiencies and help provide compliance with regulatory and legal obligations.

It does so by providing formal, rules-based management for processing, retention, and disposition of records and by enabling the secure electronic completion, review, verification, routing, and approval of forms and records. The electronic processing of forms is not only faster, it reduces costs and storage needs and decreases errors.

"This results in faster, higher-quality responses to information requests, reduced operating costs, and the ability to manage a large amount of records and comply with regulations and standards," said Janzen.

The California Franchise Tax Board, which monitors tax law compliance, had 260 million records across 50 federal, state, and local systems. With IBM, they built a Web-based, self-service site for constituents to submit tax forms electronically, download forms, get information, learn refund status, and respond to nonfiler notices.

The result was that an additional $200 million was generated in state tax revenues, with 100% payback within one year. In addition, the Tax Board saw a 55% reduction in erroneous taxpayer contacts and combining records enabled the Board to make 50,000 fewer calls.

Most governments would love to see such benefits. Many started building e-government functions in the 1990s, however, most were just simple transactions that automated pre-existing processes. They did not break down obsolete and bureaucratic divisions of information and processes.

"Because of all the pressures facing governments, the next phase of their e-Government efforts has to be the transformation into a flexible and collaborative civic service and governance model," said Janzen. "The first phase of e-Government transformation was to provide online services from nonintegrated departments to citizens and businesses. The second phase is to become the foundation for delivering integrated services to employees and consolidated operations across agencies."

The IT solutions needed to do this must tie into existing investments, be open so as to work well in the future, provide a choice of platforms, and allow entities to buy-and-build at their own pace, according to Janzen. Industry expertise and industry-specific product capabilities are also essential, he added, which is why IBM is working with a strong group of federal and regional systems integrators and independent software vendors.

With these capabilities, Janzen said, "Governments can meet their challenges and become the responsive, flexible, and effective entities needed by their business and citizen constituents around the world."

More Stories By Wayne Janzen

Wayne Janzen is the government market segment manager for IBM's software group. He works with governments across the globe that are interested in understanding how existing and emerging technologies can be used to restructure programs, services, and operations. His work focuses on the development of solutions to improve citizen and business services, enhance economic development, provide for more efficient operations, and redefine how governments and their constituents interact.

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