The Public Partners
The public partners are involved at both ends of the service delivery process: in the creation of policies and programs for businesses and in direct contact with these same businesses. Also to be mentioned are the different IT services that ensure the development and especially the maintenance of the government information systems. The speed of change of applications and processes depends on them because they are repositories and keepers of often old but very useful systems of the ministries and agencies. As each partner plays a different role, they have different expectations and resistance which OBC must understand.
"Think big, start small, scale fast" is the first motto on the Internet site of the CIO's office (CCIO Internet, 2001) regarding electronic services delivery. Since June 2000, the Ontario government approved speeding the implementation of the Electronic Service Delivery strategy (ESD). The ESD vision is to improve the quality of public service delivery through Internet solutions that focus on the client, and are accessible and cost efficient. The goal is to increase the satisfaction of Ontario citizens regarding government services by becoming a world leader in electronic service delivery. Despite OBC leaders' reputation of being dreamers oriented toward conceptualization, the team's role has become crucial in the achievement of this mission and it is now granted the room it needs to operate. OBC managed to convince the high administration and political spheres that it is not possible to put this vision in place without first giving the power to implement new service delivery methods to a group composed of all stakeholders in the community, including the market forces.
The Internal IT Providers
The ministries and government agencies' IT services are full partners at OBC. Without them, promising high tech firms' developments would go unheeded. It is crucial that the innovations developed within OBC are operated and maintained by people from the government IT shops. However, the loss of public sector IT experts to the private sector slowed the implementations.
Fifty to 60 provincial programs directly affect the Ontario business community. Targeting those, OBC created a repertory of program rules that will be available to wholesalers who will then be able to provide them under different formulas. The program managers are open to these new forms of delivery but wish to stay in control of the policies, processes, and information, as they are entirely accountable for them.
Changes in the service delivery and their impact on internal processes had to be well understood on both parts in order to avoid potentially dangerous misunderstanding. For example, the collaboration with the Commission of Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), although one of the first programs offered by the workstations, encountered difficulties during 2001 because of a lack of understanding of the services delivered by OBC. For more than two years, entrepreneurs that registered using OBC workstations believed, in good faith, that they were registering with WSIB. OBC also thought registration with WSIB was done since the new business data were transmitted to the Commission. However, WSIB let the information fall "between two processes" without follow-up realizing only much later that potential clients did not take the additional steps necessary to legalize their situation with the Commission. Protests from businesses of which the Commission demanded arrears and fines were what triggered the alarm. Trust and agreement were restored after stormy discussions.