A few days ago Oakland County in Michigan has joined the list of government organizations that have decided to provide cloud-based services to other agencies and jurisdictions. According to an article on Government Technology, Oakland County will join a
local government shared services partnership that will roll out across the nation with the help of the National Association of Counties (NACo). Oakland County will host useful applications, such as an online payment platform, that local governments will be able subscribe to and use
This implies that Oakland County will be
upgrading his technology to a more modern cloud platform and rolling out a set of applications — including online payments, a health and human services communication portal, Web publishing suite, services registration, food inspection and animal licensing applications — that […] will be useful to other jurisdictions
While I do not know the details of this partnership and despite how good the shared services record in the county might be, this raises questions about whether a government organization should be a provider of technology services to another.
While sharing solutions and aggregating buying power to be more effective in the market is a great idea, I remain skeptical about why a government entity should venture into the technology service provider space, unless its core business “is” to provide technology services.
In fact, how can one be sure that the provider county will guarantee the exact same service levels to all government clients? Should they run out of resources while dealing with peak requests, how likely is it that their workloads will have a higher priority than other clients’? It is very possible that these issues will be sorted out through the partnership above but, as a famous Italian politician used to say, “those who distrust commit a sin, but they are rarely wrong”.
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