Financial Foundations Framework, Rethinking Budgeting

Government as a Platform: Plugging in the Best Service Providers

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Local government fragmentation refers to the fact that local governments are broken into many, often overlapping, jurisdictions. In aggregate local governments spend a great deal of money. It is reasonable to ask if the public’s interest would be better served by better coordination of government at the local level.

In this paper, Part 3 of our series, we will explore another information age approach that does offer financial advantage to the day-to-day services that governments provide. We call this approach: “government as a platform.”

In a traditional governmental model, the departments of the government are the service provider. Government as a platform is about working with the community to determine the service objectives of government and then “plugging in” the most effective service provider, regardless of whether it is the local government itself, a private, non-profit, or another public organization, or if it is an activity performed directly by the citizens themselves. This model is like the ubiquitous smart phone. A company like Google or Apple provides the platform and the best apps can be plugged in to accomplish the objectives of the end user. Similarly, local government provides the authority to provide public services, and the best providers can do the hands-on work of delivering that service.