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Factors Affecting the Initiative

The primary purpose of our survey was to identify a generalizable set of policy, organizational, social, and technical factors that influence government CBI initiatives. The survey tested for generalizability of 41 such factors, all of which were pre-identified based on the research and analysis conducted by CTG during earlier phases of the project (See Appendix II for the list of survey factors). The survey questions focused on the existence and nature of these factors as they related to the CBI initiative that the respondents were reporting on.

As mentioned at the beginning of this report, the majority of respondents indicated that most of the 41 factors represented in the survey questions were present to some extent in the participants’ CBI initiatives of interest. See Appendix III for the complete list of survey items and their mean scores on a scale of 1–7. While considering the existence of many of these factors, there were some interesting finding that emerged from the preliminary analysis of the data. By identifying those survey responses with the highest and lowest means as our measure, Figure 1 below shows the top 10 factors that respondents said existed in their initiative and the top 10 that did not. The following paragraphs will discuss in greater detail our findings based on these two sets of survey items.

Questions with the highest and lowest means

Figure 1. Questions with the highest and lowest means

The majority of respondents indicated that information privacy, disclosure, and confidentiality were issues in their initiative and an even higher percentage of respondents indicated that concerns and needs about each of these issues were met in the course of the initiative. When we look in detail, more than two-thirds of the respondents (68%) stated that to a considerable or great extent information privacy was an issue in their initiative; the majority of respondents (83%) said that to a considerable or great extent information privacy needs were met. Similarly, while nearly two-thirds of respondents (66%) reported that to a considerable or great extent information confidentiality was an issue in the initiative, the majority of the respondents (82%) said that to a considerable or great extent information confidentiality needs were met.

Likewise, whereas more than 70% of the respondents stated that to a considerable or great extent information security was an issue in their initiative, the majority of them (84%) reported that to a considerable or great extent information security needs were met. Similar to the responses about security concerns, nearly two-thirds of the respondents (64%) stated that information disclosure was an issue in their initiative. However, more than three-fourths (76%) said that information disclosure needs were met to a considerable or great extent. In addition, according to the majority of respondents (79%), concerns or issues raised by participants were addressed in their initiative to a considerable or great extent. These results indicate that although respondents had several concerns at the beginning of their initiative, their concerns were met during the initiative. We plan on exploring through additional analyses what specific factors influenced these concerns being addressed and then how they influenced the overall success of the initiatives.

In response to a series of questions about the existence of knowledge of participants’ own organizations in the context of the CBI initiatives, many of the survey participants indicated that these factors existed to large extent and more than most of the other factors. Specifically, more than three-fourths of the respondents (77%) reported that to a considerable or great extent participants were knowledgeable about their own organization’s policies. Similarly, 62% stated that to a considerable or great extent participants were knowledgeable about their own organization’s information technologies. Moreover, three-fourths of the respondents reported that to a considerable or great extent their organization’s roles and responsibilities were clear to them. The fact that initiative participants were so knowledgeable about their own organizations is not a surprise, but what is of interest to us is how this knowledge influenced other factors in our model and then in turn influenced the success of the initiatives. In addition, we are very interested in whether there were factors that influenced these examples of organizational knowledge during the initiatives.

According to a majority of respondents, appropriate and effective strategies were used to a great extent during their initiatives. In addition, the existence of informal problem solving also was a high scoring factor. We believe this is worth further analysis. Looking in detail, 70% of the respondents stated that to a considerable or great extent strategies developed by participants to support the initiative were appropriate and three-fourths found that strategies developed by participants to support the initiative were effective. Similarly, nearly two-thirds of the respondents (64%) reported that to a considerable or great extent informal problem solving was common throughout the initiative. Based on the earlier analysis of our qualitative data, “informal problem solving” was not only common, but essential to the success of the CBI initiatives. In a number of instances it involved initiative participants representing several different government agencies from various levels of government having to come up with new and innovative ways of addressing barriers to improved information sharing. The informality of this problem solving had to do with the fact that there were no established rules or procedures to help guide this cross-boundary decision making. In many cases, the problems they were addressing were how to overcome information sharing barriers that were being caused by traditional bureaucratic policies and rules as well as differing—and sometimes conflicting—organizational cultures. Additional research in this area of informal problem solving seems warranted.

The survey statements with the lowest mean score represent those factors that appear to have existed the least in the respondents’ CBI initiatives (See Appendix III). For example, all of the statements related to factors about initiative participants’ knowledge of other organizations (i.e., their organizational policies, information technologies, and management practices) appear to existed to a much lesser extent than the majority of other factors. In the survey, only 10% of the respondents reported that to a considerable or great extent participants were knowledgeable about management practices, information technologies, and policies of the other participating organizations. When respondents answered the question to what extent participants were knowledgeable about the information needs of other participating organizations, 29% indicated to a considerable or great extent. In addition, only 18% stated that participants were knowledgeable about the relevant business processes of the other participating organizations to a considerable or great extent. We find this result very interesting and worthy of additional investigation. Based on our earlier analysis of the qualitative data and general consensus in the information sharing literature that successful collaboration with new partners requires increased knowledge sharing, we were surprised to see that these factors did not exist to a greater extent. However, as mentioned above, we are interested in conducting further analysis of our data to better understand how all of our “knowledge” related factors influenced and were influenced by other factors within the context of the CBI initiatives.

In term of the remaining factors that we find at the lower end of our scale, the existence and influence of legislation and legislative support was overwhelmingly not a factor in the initiatives. In addition, very few respondents indicated that the decision-making structure for their initiative was established through legislation or executive mandate. Overall, respondents consistently stated that existing legislation neither interfered with nor made their initiative possible. When we look at the responses to questions about the role of legislation, more than three-fourths of the respondents (76%) stated that existing legislation did not interfere with their initiative to a considerable or great extent. Nearly 20% of respondents reported that legislators supported their initiative to a considerable or great extent, but more than one-fourth of the respondents (26%) said legislators supported their initiative to a minimal extent or not at all. In addition, half of the respondents stated that existing legislation did not make their initiative possible to a considerable or great extent, while 21% reported that existing legislation made their initiative possible to a minimal extent or not at all. Based again on the earlier analysis of our qualitative data, we find these results interesting and worth additional study. From our qualitative data, some form of legislation was cited as a trigger for starting a CBI initiative. We also found that existing legislation hampered cross-boundary collaboration by making it difficult to extend authority and share resources across agencies and levels of government.