Section III: A Public Value Framework for Government IT Assessment
A. The Framework Strategy
The framework describes public value assessment as a series of steps to gather specific data and use it to answer questions that lead to public ROI results. The results can include measures and documentation of public returns, risk analysis of the threats to achieving those results, and suggestions for presenting results to decision makers. Each component of the framework deals with a different set of questions and possible data to use in subsequent steps, and so forth. By working with the ideas and methods presented in the framework, the analysis can produce a public ROI assessment that is broad in scope, yet tailored to the particular investment of interest.
The steps are not intended to be used in a lock-step manner. The questions and inquiry involved in one part of the framework may be obvious and easily answered in some cases and quite complex and difficult in others. It may be necessary to explore later steps before preceding ones are finished, and then cycle back. In general, however, the sequence follows the path shown in Figure 6 below.
The steps illustrate how the process of value identification and measurement carries through from the goals of an IT investment, through the value generating mechanisms of the business processes, connection with stakeholders, to specific data and reporting. These are the main components of the framework.
By starting with a deliberately broad scope, then narrowing to specific questions for each project, this approach addresses one of the shortcomings of previous work on ROI for government IT, namely the narrow scope of possible value questions considered. By expanding the initial scope of analysis to include a broad view of public returns, the framework can lead to a more comprehensive result. The framework thus does not replace or supersede the existing methods developed by others for assessing returns to government IT investments. Rather the framework shows how these methods can be used in assessment, what additional value issues should be addressed, and how additional assessment methods may be used.
Figure 6. Steps in Applying the Public Value Framework