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Identifying the Public Value of IT Governance

Creating new IT governance capability, as discussed above, is complex and often problematic. As a consequence, when considering creating new enterprise IT governance capability, public managers should first identify the public value they expect to create through enhanced IT governance. In this case, having explicit knowledge of the value now achievable through newly interoperable systems will support the business case for investments in IT governance.

What public value must be created to make the enhancement of enterprise IT governance worthwhile?

Three questions, in particular, should be asked:

  1. What value must be created to make the enhancement of enterprise IT governance worthwhile?
  2. What changes have to occur for that value to be created?
  3. Do we have the capability to make and sustain the necessary changes?

The public value approach is unique among IT governance efforts. The uniqueness of this approach rests in the public value framework developed by the Center for Technology in Government. In this framework public return on investment (PROI) is defined as a measure of the delivery of specific value to the people, and the improvement of the value of government as a public asset. The framework identifies five types of public value that extend beyond financial considerations: political, social, strategic, ideological, and stewardship.3 For each value type there are three possible value-generating mechanisms: increases in efficiency and/or effectiveness, enabling of otherwise infeasible but desirable activities, and intrinsic enhancements to the stakeholders, such as improved transparency. The value focus also helps maintain awareness of the technical and political context of IT governance and avoid simplistic generic strategies that do not take context into account.

The task of assessing value is challenging because not every aspect of public value is relevant for a particular governance structure or investment. Table 4 presents a way to map value creation in terms of the recipients of value and the various governance structures you might find in a multi-level, multi-unit government. Included in the table are examples of how each scope of governance can achieve different value propositions for the individual recipient groups. Engaging in a mapping process allows networks of organizations to more specifically identify what value must be realized through enhanced IT governance to justify the investments necessary to create that enhanced capability. The mapping process was designed to ensure that multiple stakeholder perspectives are incorporated into the value discussion. In the use of this mapping in New York State, participants learned that an enhanced enterprise IT governance structure (with the enterprise being the State of New York) created the greatest value when developed as a complement to, rather than as a replacement for, multi-level IT governance.

Table 4.
Mapping the Value of IT Governance
IT Governance Structures
Recipient of Value
Agency Level
Domain Level
Enterprise Level
Better alignment with agency business, improved sharing of services within agency, simpler standardization.
Ability to benefit from the collaboration by allowing smaller agencies to have a voice in a larger forum.
Benefit from aggregate buys such as with e-licensing and PC contracts.
Ability to coordinate resources.
Leverage skills and technology. Ability to create a “domain vision” that represents the whole versus individual silos.
Economies of scale.
State Government
Statewide cost savings.
Better alignment within the policy domains of the State.
Multi-year planning and ability to weather the changes in political swings.
Customer centric focus of agency mission and vision.
Provides a streamlined perspective of a policy domain. Better customer service.
Overall cost savings and improved customer service.
Adapted from Pardo, Canestraro, Hrdinová, Cresswell, and Raup-Kounovsky 2009

3 A more detailed description of these five types of public value can be found in The Center for Technology in Government. (2007). Advancing Return on Investment Analysis for Government IT: A Public Value Framework. Available at