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Public ROI – Advancing Return on Investment Analysis for Government IT

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Publications & Results
Issue Briefs (2)
Performance Image
There is a simple and persuasive proposition that is quite common in government policy and practice: better measurements of performance will lead to overall improvements in government. That proposition is fundamental to any notion of governing as rational decision making, from at least as far back as the Program Planning and Budgeting Systems (PPBS) and government accountability movements in the 1960’s, up to the emergence of ComStat-style programs currently operating in many agencies. Performance measurement is central as well to the President’s Management Agenda for improving U.S. federal agency operations, and many similar initiatives that can be found in state agencies. In spite of this long history of concern with performance measurement, however, it remains a puzzling problem for governments at all levels.

Every investment decision requires a leap of faith—sometimes a large one—into an uncertain future. However, after decades of investments in information technology (IT), running into billions of dollars, governments worldwide are largely unable to convincingly demonstrate a return on investment (ROI) that is widely understood or based upon well-grounded measures. While most can agree that government has been dramatically changed by IT, and many programs and services are more effective and less expensive as a result, government agencies are finding it increasingly difficult to communicate the public benefits of these investments.

Practical Guides (2)
Return on Investment  book cover
New information technology (IT) systems are serious, and potentially risky, investments for government agencies and nonprofit organizations. This guide is designed to help public sector managers better understand how a return on investment (ROI) analysis can take some of that risk out of their next IT investment.

Why evaluate information technology (IT) choices? Because IT innovation is risky business in every organization. The public policy choices and public management processes that are part of government make it an especially difficult environment for IT managers. These layers of complexity present a daunting challenge to public managers who are responsible for choosing, funding, and building IT innovations.

Government managers need to evaluate IT choices because they are among the most complex and expensive decisions they are expected to make.

There are three ways to mitigate the risks inherent in these complex decisions: thoroughly understand the problem to be solved and its context, identify and test possible solutions to the problem, evaluate the results of those tests against your service and performance goals. This handbook is designed to help any government manager follow a well-tested methodology for evaluating IT innovations before deciding (with greater confidence) to make a significant investment.

Reports (6)
Advancing Return on Investment Analysis for Government IT book cover
This white paper provides an analysis process that starts with a high level view of the IT investment and then drills down through successive steps to identify the specific measures and methods that will reveal and document public value. The assessment can be tailored to the size and nature of a particular investment decision. The framework is broad in scope so that it can be applied to virtually any government IT investment – from simple Web sites to government-wide information systems and architectures.

In addition to this white paper, CTG developed five case study reports:
  1. The Austrian Federal Budgeting and Bookkeeping System – Federal Government of Austria’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementation to standardize the federal government’s budgeting and bookkeeping processes.
  2. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Integrated Enterprise System – Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s ERP implementation to put in place the technical infrastructure and enterprise standards for core administrative functions.
  3. The Government of Israel’s Merkava Project – Government of Israel’s ERP implementation to restructure the financial, logistics, and human resource components of governmentwide administration.
  4. Service New Brunswick – A multi-channel “single window” citizen access to government services in New Brunswick, Canada.
  5. The Washington State Digital Archives – The State of Washington’s investment in digital archiving for government records to provide collection, preservation, and access to records of enduring legal and historical significance.


Service New Brunswick was launched in a time of high pressure from citizens in New Brunswick, Canada for improved service delivery. Today it serves the province through its award winning service delivery model, and also and maybe more importantly in the long run, through its innovations in economic development.

The goal of the Austrian Federal Budgeting and Bookkeeping System project was to redesign and integrate the electronic workflow of the federal government’s budget and bookkeeping processes. The strategy they chose was to implement a single Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software standard throughout the federal government, along with the adoption of necessary legal authority.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Integrated Enterprise System Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software implementation put in place the technical infrastructure and enterprise standards for core government administrative functions with improved public value.

The Government of Israel’s Merkava Project is an effort to restructure the financial, logistics, and human resource components of government-wide administration into an integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Merkava is also part of a comprehensive eGovernment initiative that includes five layers of new technologies and operational systems for enhanced internal operations and improved benefits and services to citizens.

Washington State’s investment in digital archiving for government records provides a highly focused and successful example of pursuing public value through information technology.

Journal Articles and Conference Papers (2)
Journal Article Cover
Teresa M. Harrison, Santiago Guerrero, G. Brian Burke, Meghan Cook, Anthony Cresswell, Natalie Helbig, Jana Hrdinová, and Theresa Pardo
Proceedings of the 12th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research (dg.o 2011), Sun, 12 Jun 2011, >Download PDF
This paper considers open government (OG) within the context of e-government and its broader implications for the future of public administration. It argues that the current US Administration’s Open Government Initiative blurs traditional distinctions between e-democracy and e-government by incorporating historically democratic practices, now enabled by emerging technology, within administrative agencies. The paper considers how transparency, participation, and collaboration function as democratic practices in administrative agencies, suggesting that these processes are instrumental attributes of administrative action and decision making, rather than the objective of administrative action, as they appear to be currently treated. It proposes alternatively that planning and assessing OG be addressed within a “public value” framework.

Lucy Dadayan
Proceedings of the 13th European Conference on Information Technology Evaluation, Genoa Italy, 28-29 September 2006, Fri, 27 Oct 2006, Thirteen pages >Download PDF
Based on findings from CTG's Advancing Return on Investment Analysis for Government IT project this paper discusses the similarities and differences of approaches, models, and methodologies developed and utilized for measuring ROI in IT investment, particularly in the public sector. The paper also provides a descriptive data analysis of trends in IT investments in the United States.

Book Chapters (1)
Book Cover
Anthony M. Cresswell, Djoko Sigit Sayogo, and Lorenzo Madrid
IGI Global, Sun, 01 Jan 2012, >Download PDF
Government investments in enhancing the interoperability of ICT systems have the potential to improve services and help governments respond to the diverse and often incompatible needs and interests of individual citizens, organizations, and society at large. These diverse needs and interests encompass a broad range of value propositions and demands that can seldom be met by single programs or assessed by simple metrics. The diversity of stakeholder needs and the complexity inherent in interoperable systems for connected government require an architecture that is up to the task. Such an architecture must include the reference models and components that can accommodate and integrate large portfoliosof applications and support multiple kinds of performance assessments. The value propositions that underlie the architecture’s performance assessment or reference model are fundamental. The propositions must be broad enough to span the full scope of the government program’s goals, asubstantial challenge. In recognition of that challenge, this chapter puts forward two perspectives for assessing the value of interoperable ICT investments, incorporating outcomes beyond financial metrics. The first is the network value approach to assessment of investments in interoperable ICT systems for government. The second is the public value framework developed by the Center for Technology in Government, which expands on the network value approach to include a broader range of public value outcomes. These approaches are illustrated in two case studies: the I-Choose project designed to produce interoperable government and private sector data about a specific agricultural market and the government of Colombia’s interoperability efforts with expanded metrics based on the expansion of interoperability networks.

Presentations

Public Return on Investment (ROI) [ Dead Link ]

This presentation was delivered by one of CTG's SAP partners (Ian Swann, Vice President, SAP Public Sector) at the Impact of eGovernment in Europe conference in Helsinki, Finland on September 13, 2006. The PowerPoint presentation can be downloaded from this Web page http://www.egov-goodpractice.org/event_details.php?eventid=125 [ Dead Link ] under the "Documents" heading by selecting the seventh item listed, identified as "SAP (Swann).ppt."