United States (US)
Political Environment as Context for New Models of Collaboration
Governments in the United States have been experimenting with different forms of collaboration for several decades. These range from quite traditional forms to more innovative types. The most common are characterized by formal purchase contracts for private sector goods and services, or long-term service arrangements which usually engage nonprofit organizations to offer publicly-funded social programs such as shelters or day care. In the 1990s additional forms of collaboration began to emerge that incorporated different philosophies about the arrangement of interests among the parties. These include outsourcing entire organizational functions, public-private partnerships, and full privatization of formerly public programs. These are less common, but growing in number. At the same time, interest and experimentation have grown significantly in cross-agency and intergovernmental collaborations entirely inside the public sector.
In 2001, the Bush Administration initiated a series of government reform efforts known as the President's Management Agenda (PMA) to improve government accountability, effectiveness, and responsiveness to citizens. One of the PMA initiatives is Expanding Electronic Government, which focuses on "modernizing IT investments within agencies using the principles of e-business (and) integrating IT investments across agencies centered around groups of citizens" (Office of Management and Budget, E-Government Strategy, April 2003, p. 2). An E-Government Task Force identified 24 critical cross-agency E-Government initiatives.
One of the main PMA goals for e-government is to develop cross-agency solutions to provide more one-stop access points of government information for citizens and businesses, similar to FirstGov.gov,
the US government information portal. FirstGov was initiated as a public-private partnership and later evolved into an interagency public-public collaboration. Another public-private project is Free File, an extension of the pre-existing IRS e-filing system
that will allow free online preparation and electronic tax filing provided by Industry Partners.
Cross-agency efforts to provide one-stop access points to government information have also been implemented at the state level. The New York State (NYS) Geographic Information System (GIS) Coordination Program
is a joint effort of state and local governments to provide statewide access to GIS data. State governments are leaders in the domain of public-private partnerships. State portals, such as Access Indiana
, are based on a true partnership between the private and public sectors. Access Indiana is one of several state portals using a unique self-funding model where the private partner derives its income from fees imposed on premium services and online transactions.