In my research about the future of government I’ve been looking for some time at the many boundaries that are blurring: between government and intermediary channels, between government and social networks, between employees and citizens, between service providers and service suppliers, between policy making and service delivery.
Earlier today, a client flagged that also the boundary between front office and back office may be vanishing. Front office usually includes citizen-facing services and citizen relationship management, while back office refers to processes that are required to make service delivery happen, but are invisible to service consumers. They include horizontal processes – such as finance, HR, budgeting, procurement, auditing, performance management – but also domain-specific processes that take place behind the scene - such as tax return processing, evaluation of grants applications. eligibility determination for human services.
In the future, though, it will be increasingly difficult to draw a line between them. Think about a few examples:
- Applying crowdsourcing to evaluating grants applications or building the budget
- Accessing external information to assess eligibility for financial support (e.g. pictures on Flickr or discussions on Facebook that may provide evidence that requirements are not met).
- Tapping into external social networks to gather feedback about the performance of government programs.
- Government employees who are in charge of human capital management and use information that their colleagues post on Linkedin.
- Social networks focusing on preventing people on parole or probation from re-offending, and their interaction with parole officers who could also be members.
- A taxpayer being able to reach out to a government tax expert who would not usually be on the front office but happens to be on the same social network
Where is the boundary between front and back office? Where is the boundary between internal and external? Where does government end and society start?