Breaking Down Bureaucracy

Ten years ago, who would imagine two or more agencies – with totally different missions – sharing information, processes and technology to deliver services resulting in positive, collaborative outcomes? And that these outcomes would benefit not only the agencies themselves, but also their respective constituents?
Well, imagine no more. Collaborative outcomes are an innovative trend occurring now at all levels of government, and one that is supported by SAP’s business process platform with its various functionality for the public sector.

Collaboration reduces the layers of bureaucracy

Wikipedia characterizes “collaboration” as a process defined by the recursive interaction of knowledge between two or more people who are working together toward a common goal. “Outcome” is defined on Google as the result of the performance (or nonperformance) of a function or process.
In the public sector context, collaborative outcomes are common to two or more government agencies and a quantitative or qualitative result experienced by stakeholders from this combination of government activities, achieved by leveraging common solutions, processes and / or technologies. Simply put, collaborative outcomes are a form of inter-agency collaboration or joint working where the agencies involved share responsibility for, and actively collaborate, to manage towards a common outcome.
Why are collaborative outcomes important? They reduce the layers of bureaucracy, foster a constituent-service oriented culture, reduce costs and ultimately drive higher public value.

Collaborative outcomes example – ensuring taxpayer compliance

A federal or central government, with three particular agencies – public administration, tax & revenue administration, and licensing – can benefit from collaboration in various ways.
In this scenario, a citizen requests a renewal of his driver’s license with the licensing agency. The mission of this agency is to issue and renew licenses for eligible citizens.
Rather than simply issue the license, what if the licensing system and staff interacts with the tax & revenue agency to determine whether the applicant’s tax obligation has been met? This collaboration would support the tax & revenue agency’s mission and desired outcome, which is to maximize taxpayer compliance and reduce the tax gap.
If the tax & revenue agency determines that the applicant is delinquent on paying his taxes, the licensing agency can decide not to renew his driver’s license until he fulfills his tax obligation.
Once the citizen fulfills his tax obligation and makes payment for his driver’s license renewal, all the corresponding transactions above are ultimately tracked and reconciled to the general fund within the financial management system in the public administration agency.
The collaborative outcome achieved in this scenario is the licensing agency only issues and renews licenses for eligible constituents, and in the course of providing its service helps the tax & revenue agency ensures taxpayer compliance. This collaborative outcome would not have been possible if these two agencies had not worked together interactively, or shared information, processes and technology.

Fulfilling the missions of different government lines of business

A second illustrative example involves the public administration, tax & revenue and child support enforcement agencies of a state or provincial government.
A custodial parent is entitled by court order to receive child support payments from the non-custodial parent. Let’s say the custodial parent in this example is the mother of two children. She is not receiving her monthly child support payment from her ex-husband, and contacts the department of social services within her state. The mission of this agency is to ensure eligible custodial parents receive payments on a timely basis.
The social services system and staff interact with tax & revenue agency to verify if the non-custodial father has fulfilled his tax obligation, or is owed a tax refund, or is employed.
Based on the situation, the tax & revenue agency can withhold the father’s tax refund, send a notice of an outstanding tax obligation, or garnish his wages, in order to collect the money owed to the mother. Once the tax agency collects the money from the father, it disburses the money to the social services agency, which then sends the money to the mother, ensuring her child support payment is paid.
All the corresponding transactions are tracked and reconciled in the general fund within the financial management system in the public administration agency.
The collaborative outcome achieved in this scenario is the child support enforcement agency ensures the custodial parent receives her payment and the tax & revenue agency ensures the non-custodial parent fulfills his tax obligation.
The end result in both these illustrative examples are collaborative outcomes fulfilling the missions of two different service lines of business, and higher public value across financial, social and political dimensions.
Political value is enhanced as elected officials can highlight these collaborative outcomes as examples of governments “doing more with less”, showing transparency, and meeting service goals.
Social value is improved when entitled citizens receive necessary financial aid, such as the custodial mother receiving timely child support payments. At a higher level, social value is also enhanced when taxpayer compliance is improved, since tax dollars account for the bulk of the general fund. These monies in turn fuel critical government service and program mandates in education, health, environment, infrastructure, public safety, and so on.

Leveraging a common business process platform

In these examples, the government agencies discussed can leverage the same SAP business process platform, including specific solutions – such as SAP ERP for public administration, SAP Tax and Revenue Management for tax administration, and SAP Customer Relationship Management to help social services to manage their respective missions. SAP provides back-office and front-office solutions on a unified business process platform that is the foundation for collaborative outcomes – whether for the discussed examples above, or others.

Russ LeFevre