Institutional and Legal Setting
In 1998 the TBS was given a mandate to explore the options for adopting an integrated approach to the delivery of federal services in order to create a new image for the government, and to do so within two years. A working group was quickly formed and undertook a comprehensive study of the services offered with a view to proposing a strategic business plan for the Service Canada Initiative (SCI). It should be noted here that the TBS received another mandate along with the SCI, namely the Government On-Line Initiative (GOLI)2, which aims to
deliver public services on-line so that all citizens can interact with their government electronically. Although intrinsically connected, the two initiatives competed indirectly for resources.
The situation analysis done by the SCI team identified the basic federal government information services:
The 1-800-O-Canada government call centre managed and run by Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) supported by a database containing information on some 1,000 programs and services;
The Blue Pages phonebook listings of government departments and agencies;
The approximately 30 information kiosks set up by various departments and agencies, primarily Human Resources Development (HRDC);
The 450 independently managed department and agency portals and websites;
The approximately 413,000 brochures and forms published by nine departments and distributed through various channels.
The federal government was offering nearly 1,000 different programs and services at some 11,000 access points and 450 websites, and operating 170 call centres while spending a total of approximately $1.6 billion on government information services. This was the starting-point (Service Canada Implementation Team, 1999). The challenge was all the greater because it meant integrating channels for which various departments were responsible.