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4. The Collaboration Process


4.1. Initiation and Design
The initiation of the project profited greatly from a longer-standing relationship between the city and university professor at the Applied Computer Science department. Both had jointly developed the city information system which became the official web presentation of Bremen, www.bremen.de. The outside perspective from the university broadened the scope of the project to cover all aspects of access, infrastructure, and applications, as outlined in section 2.2.-2.4. The initial concept team was completed with a senior consultant, who had been working on concepts to integrate electronic signatures and GeldKarte-applications for Deutsche Telekom and the national savings bank association. Meeting initial opposition by the city's economic division, who did not share this vision, the integrated concept drawn up by the city, the university, and the consultant firm proved to be successful in the first round, because it merited a broad and multidisciplinary approach to the problem of how to develop electronic services. As indicated above, winning the first round meant that the project team was funded for a little more than half a year to detail the concept. This period was crucial in establishing the public private partnership which today makes up Bremen Online Services.

Led by a steering group made up of the original partners, including Deutsche Telekom and Sparkasse Bremen, the key paradigm for Bremen Online Services was to form non-discriminatory and open working groups for every technical and content aspect of the project. In these working groups, more than a hundred representatives from industry, local commerce, and public administration participated. The private sector was invited to participate by open calls for tender. Of course, the prospect of receiving a $ 20 million DM grant also had considerable appeal. The project was an opportunity for the private sector as well as for the administration to gain know-how about cutting-edge Internet transaction technology. When it came time to finalize the project, the steering group issued a call for tender and selected preliminary industry partners to implement the project in case the final grant would be awarded, as ultimately happened.

As for the agencies and private partners planning to offer services, participation has been voluntary. For several public administration applications, in such areas as legal administration, finance, building application permits, procurement, car registration, citizen's register and the institutes of higher education, funds have been awarded to allow the necessary re-engineering.

During the initiation and design phases, the project profited greatly from the high-level support it gathered. Both the first mayor and the second mayor, who represent the true dominating parties in Bremen, the left-of-center Social Democrats (SPD) and the right-of-center Christian Democrats (CDU), personally supported the initiative and helped to assure wide-spread cooperation and support within and outside the administration. For them, the project and its ultimate success presented numerous opportunities in which to present Bremen as an innovative and successful city-state, which they greatly appreciated since it contrasted nicely with Bremen's over-all dire economic situation. The leadership was also necessary to overcome some initial resistance by actors and companies which had originally intended to use the federal competition to fund other projects in their realm.