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The Project Context

The Strategic Context
In the early 1990s, the Ontario government was criticized for being anti-business. Economic growth was slow, and recovery was only thought possible through the creation of small businesses (in order to replace the losses of the severely hit heavy industry) but required very time-consuming and complex administrative procedures. There was a general feeling that job creation, which would have to come from small and medium enterprises, should not be hampered by government red tape.

The vision that the Ontario government developed in the 1990s for the next generation of service delivery can be summarized as follows:

  • To provide a secure two-way access that protects data integrity between the government programs and the business clients;
  • To allow complete freedom of choice to the citizen-client (access, time, product/service and information);
  • To encourage products/services updates in a competitive environment in order to reduce costs to businesses;
  • And, to use a network technology opened to the choice of channels and available at any hour through the government and the services delivery community.

In this context, the client will be able to choose his or her exchange options with the government, control transaction status, and expect efficient service. The services delivery partners will be able to act on behalf of their client and be paid by them; to identify their niches and service offers; and to be certified by the government for the quality of their services.

The right time had come for technology to support the tremendous changes in service delivery. What was left was to apply a framework around its evolution and development in order to align it with the government strategy for the future. Most importantly, legal and functional barriers limiting the exchange of data between the different ministries and between the ministries and a third of the public domain responsible for integrating this data and making it available to businesses had to be removed. For this reason, at the same time that OBC was taking form, a study group started working on drafting legislation on the reform of the law regulating businesses, without which OBC could never have moved forward. The two groups benefited from strong support at the highest levels from which they directly depended without having to report to any program or ministry.

Another rarely noticed facilitating element concerns the attitude of Ontario citizens who have a vision of the private enterprise as a partner in public affairs. They are less concerned by potential conflicts of interest that can be created by, for example, the placement of a business sponsor's advertisement board in the hallway of a public agency. This positive and open attitude allows OBC to further explore the involvement of public, private and Non Governmental Organization (NGO) partners in the business architecture of government services delivery.