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Sharing services to improve government efficiency

By Parul Bhandari, Government and Public Safety National Security Lead for Open and Big Data, Microsoft on June 14, 2016

Filed under Microsoft in Government

Shared services

Faced with shrinking budgets, many governments around the world are being forced to do more with less. In the United States, for example, consumption and investment by all levels of government—local, state and federal combined—recently dropped to 17.6 percent of gross domestic product, its lowest level in 66 years. Similar trends are occurring in many advanced economies around the world.

In the current climate, it’s imperative that governments make every dollar count—and shared services offer a compelling way to do just that. Since the 1990s, many governments have been sharing services—combining resources, functions, and infrastructure—to reduce costs and deliver services more effectively to citizens. And now, thanks to cloud computing, the opportunity exists to share services even more easily and cost-effectively, leading more government agencies to embrace this operating model with impressive results.

A great example is the Baltic country of Estonia, which is transforming citizen engagement by issuing a digital ID to all its citizens 15 years and older. This secure, authenticated identity acts as a national health insurance card, proof of identification for bank accounts, a pre-paid public transport ticket, voting identification, and more. With 600 e-services offered to citizens, Estonia is making access to government services much more efficient for citizens, no matter what service they need to access and which individual agency oversees it.

Likewise, the United Kingdom is reducing costs and increasing efficiency by combining technology across government departments located overseas. Specifically, the UK government is creating a Common Technology Service that allows overseas governmental agencies such as UK Trade and Investment, the Department for International Development, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to collaborate on documents, communicate by voice or video, share calendars, and work from mobile devices using common cloud-based systems. The effort is part of the UK’s “One HMG Overseas” agenda, which aims to remove barriers to joint working so that all overseas staff in the UK government can deliver the UK’s objectives more efficiently.

Saudi Arabia is taking yet another approach to shared services. Its Ministry of Interior’s National Information Center (NIC) is unifying data across government systems to provide better information to citizens while improving public safety and national security situational awareness. Charged with providing comprehensive e-services to citizens, residents, and businesses, the center is improving its e-services through the creation of a massive public data exchange database that can handle tens of terabytes of data and tens of millions of citizen requests per day. To provide public safety and national security officials with improved information, the center also deployed a system using a unified data integration platform, data management hosting, data warehousing, and business intelligence. The solution integrates with 182 internal and external systems and handles petabytes of structured and unstructured data.

These are just a few of the ways governments around the globe are sharing services to improve efficiency and deliver better services to constituents. To learn more, please see our “Best practices for government shared services” white paper. Also, be sure to reach Michele Bedford Thistle’s recent blog post, “A new era of shared services.”

Also, look to request a trial and experience how technology can empower your agency: Azure Government Trial, Office 365 Government Trial.

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