Essential Public-Private Partnerships

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A Guide to the successful creation of public-private partnerships Essential Partnerships: [ ]

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A white paper on the successful creation of public-private technology partnerships

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Page 1: Essential Public-Private Partnerships

A Guide to the successful creation of public-private partnerships

Essential Partnerships:

[ ]

Page 2: Essential Public-Private Partnerships

Essential Partnerships:

A Guide to the Successful Creation of Public-Private Partnerships

Produced by Cathilea Robinett Executive Vice President

e.Republic Inc. Executive Director

Center for Digital Government

Written by Michelle Gamble-Risley Executive Editor

Center for Digital Government E-mail: [email protected]

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Table of Contents Introduction State and Local Government E-Government Services Page 1 The Synergy Project Page 3 Education A+ Certification Page 5 Big Buy for Dell PCs Page 7

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Over the years, IT leaders often mentioned that it's critical to create a partnership between government entities and suppliers to deliver IT services or systems. This notion of a partnership implies an association with another in an activity, as well as a clearly defined split in the responsibilities. A true partnership creates a successful blend of project management coordination, delivery of a valuable final product, and an ongoing relationship that exceeds basic installation of that product or service. The lack of a successful partnership may lead to a critical IT project failure. While many leaders stress the importance of partnerships, few have really taken the time to fully explain the essential ingredients that go into making one work -- let alone what makes one exceed expectations. The Center for Digital Government decided to examine the exact ingredients required for successful public-private partnerships. After interviewing dozens of IT directors, managers and chief information officers, we reached several conclusions. Leaders cited the following as the keys to creating a successful partnership:

• 83 percent stated that suppliers, who are willing to make financial concessions or help in the planning process to reduce expenditures, make excellent partners.

• 50 percent said that a desirable partner is proactive and responsive to providing technical

support, aid and assistance to answering questions.

• 25 percent said that honesty and trust are important among partners.

• 25 percent also said that working together on the procurement process was important.

• 16 percent said that it was important that the supplier staff worked closely with government staff and fully participated in meetings.

• Another 16 percent said that scheduling flexibility for things like meetings and installation time

played a critical role. The remaining issues cited as significant related to the individual project's needs. Among the other issues noted were: technical collaboration, group planning and the development of a cooperative vision, formation of user groups, willingness to assist with training, open lines of communication and consistent response times. While the application of some of these ideas is important, others were not relevant to a particular project's needs. What stood out is the 83-percent response in regard to financial matters. In today's current economic climate, the willingness to work with IT leaders to fit budgets often means the difference between a project launch or cancellation. In the education space, many IT leaders are willing to do things like pilot a new process or help create a new application in exchange for things such as new hardware and systems.

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Additionally, IT professionals wished for the partner to sit down with them and examine ways in which the project budget might be reduced or managed differently to decrease expenditures. In some cases, such as the San Diego Synergy project, this analysis resulted in the savings of millions of dollars and became a make or break point. Another issue related to staffing problems, and a lack of technical expertise drove the other 50 percent regarding partner responsiveness. Government and education entities cannot afford to have their systems go down and not be able to fix them. They also cannot afford to have technical problems without recourse; therefore, an overall willingness and capability to help maintain and repair systems was noted as important. This information ultimately explains what government and IT suppliers expect from each other as governments continue to build or replace technology systems. Insightful and innovative IT leaders who apply these ideas to their projects set up win-win situations for both sides. Finally, it appears that the essential partnership will continue to play a major role as IT leaders face continually shrinking budgets and increased demands from citizens who expect to receive services via the Internet. Cathilea Robinett Executive Vice President e.Republic Inc. Executive Director Centers for Digital Government and Education

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The Partners: Utah and NIC

Government Website:

NIC Website:

Contact: Val Oveson

Title: Chief Information Officer

Department: Governor's Office

Tel: 801.538.1000

Essential Partnerships

State and Local Government


• NIC developed flexible funding models. • The state leverages NIC's experience with other government


The state of Utah's partnership with Utah Interactive, another division of the

National Information Consortium (NIC), has gone so well that the state

recently extended its e-government services contract for another four years

and the site took first place in the Center for Digital Government's 2003 Best

of the Web contest. Utah Interactive built and managed the state's official

Web portal ( since its launch in May 1999.

"In just four years, this partnership has transformed the way state

government interacts with the people it serves," said Gov. Mike Leavitt. "We

provide better services faster and with less cost. The extension of this

contract will continue Utah's momentum as a leader in online government."

Val Oveson, chief information officer, approved the contract extension on

April 22, 2003. He oversees the Web portal's e-government operations and

reviews individual agency agreements with Utah Interactive, sets policies and

approves new portal services. "Utah's relationship with NIC has been critical

to our ability to provide high-quality interactive services to Utah citizens,"

said Oveson. "Gov. Leavitt's vision of a seamless online government has

quickly become reality."

Utah officials cite the quality of their longstanding partnership with Utah

Interactive as the primary reason for extending the contract. In addition to

designing and managing the state's official Web site, Utah Interactive helped

build dozens of state and local government Web sites and developed more

than 154 interactive online services during the past four years.

Oveson also attributes the momentum the state has gained in developing e-

government services to the relationship with Utah Interactive. "We are

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The Partners: Utah and NIC

Government Website:

NIC Website:

Contact: Val Oveson

Title: Chief Information Officer

Department: Governor's Office

Tel: 801.538.1000

pleased with Utah Interactive's services," he said. "The acceptance by the

individual departments in working with them to develop Web applications is

very good. They developed our portal, and they are operating it, while we are

working to ensure that development continues, and refreshing and updating

the services moves ahead on the same path; but we're right in the throes of

doing it. For example, we're working on our main Web page right now."

Utah Interactive officials also sat down with agency representatives to

discuss how they could fund projects, and this has been particularly critical

as many states face difficult budget deficits and cuts. "They have been very

flexible with us," said Oveson. "We've been working with them on direct

funding methods and convenience fees charged to the customer. I don't know

if they're doing any benefit funding mechanisms, but that is possible under

this new contract."

Oveson continued by noting that the real power of the contract is that they

get to leverage NIC's experience with 30 other entities with which they have

relationships. "They are communicating with us across boundaries -- that is a

major benefit they brought to the table," he added.

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The Partners: City of San Diego and ESRI

Government Website:

ESRI Website:

Contact: Liz Mueller Title: Information Systems

Manager Department: Synergy Project

Tel: 619.527.7516


• Private partners ESRI and SAP collaborated to help reduce the overall project cost and help get it launched.

• Cost reductions made it possible to upgrade the system in other ways.

• The technical collaboration between ESRI and SAP made it possible to add features the city wanted included in the system.

These tight fiscal times necessitate that government entities devise cost-

cutting measures if they want to get IT projects launched. In the case of the

city of San Diego's Synergy Project, IT leaders leveraged a public-private

partnership to reduce the proposed $5 million budget down to $1.8 million,

thus saving more than 50 percent of the projected project expenses. The

tremendous cost savings evolved from the city's relationship with national

software providers, ESRI and SAP.

The Synergy Project itself was created to provide citizens of San Diego with a

unique tool to keep them informed in real time when things like a pot hole

gets fixed. This up-to-the-minute information is available through a system

created by the Synergy Project, which allows users to submit a street repair

request online (pot holes, streetlights, traffic-light repair, graffiti, etc.) using

either traditional text entry or by a GIS viewer to isolate specific geographic

areas. Users can go online and directly access the SAP work-management

system and see the status of their submittals.

The Synergy Project team first came into contact with ESRI when they began

working on the change management process and discussions started on the

new project.

"We needed to identify what we had and where we were going to go," said Liz

Mueller, information systems manager with Synergy. "Then we needed to

come up with a scope and direction. We began examining either using an

enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, customizing existing systems or

finding some off-the-shelf application. An ERP application caught our eye,

and we began looking at business operations and how we would be able to

interface with different packages we were already using. We finally came

down to SAP that had the main selling point of being able to work with ESRI

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The Partners: City of San Diego and ESRI

Government Website:

ESRI Website:

Contact: Liz Mueller Title: Information Systems

Manager Department: Synergy Project

Tel: 619.527.7516

solutions. SAP had even recently announced a partnership with ESRI, and we

decided to become partners with those partners."

The partnership with ESRI and SAP soon took a strategic and financially

advantageous direction. After the city hired a consultant to come and provide

assistance in the planning process, the projected cost soon became an issue.

The consultant was suggesting that the project might cost upwards of $5

million, which the city wasn't willing to pay. ESRI and SAP turned around,

looked at the figure, and quickly devised a solution that would only cost $1.8

million. This less expensive estimate actually resulted in pushing the project

forward, whereas the other price had become prohibitive.

The partnership between SAP and ESRI has been extremely beneficial in how

the application works. “In about a year, we had integrated the two products,

ESRI and SAP, and had a live connection up and running,” she explained.

“We were at the point where you could click to any point on the map, do

queries on pot holes, map it, draw circles and go to the SAP product to

manage the information. Now we are working on a Web extension that allows

users to go into street services and use a zip code or address to do things like

show a drain problem and click on it to say what’s wrong and then send it

through the Internet and intranet.”

In the end, Mueller was pleasantly surprised by the project’s huge success --

and certainly the supplier partners played a significant role in making it

happen. If the project had stayed at the $5 million mark it is unlikely it would

be where it is today -- moving toward the next upgrade, a GPS component in

the city sweepers to relay back real-time data. The city is also working on

providing field technicians with personal digital assistants so crew leaders

can enter information directly into the system. "We're having a lot of fun

with it," added Mueller. "It's great."

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The Partners: Poway Unified School District and Gateway

District Website:

Gateway Website:

Contact: Charlie Garten Title: Executive Director

Department: Educational Technology and Information

Services Tel: 858.748.0010


A+ Certification


• Trust and commitment went a long way toward cementing the partnership and developing the RFP.

• Gateway was willing to make a tremendous investment and take the project well beyond a simple pilot process.

• Gateway was very hands-on in the organizational and planning phases.

Wouldn't it be the epitome of great customer service if every vendor came to

a K-12 school and said, "How can we make student learning better for you?

How can we help you support student learning?" This is exactly what

Gateway, a national computer, consulting and training company, did with

California-based Poway Unified School District when it proposed helping

establish an A+ Certification program to help train high school students.

According to Charlie Garten, executive director of educational technology

and education services at Poway, Gateway offered to meet the district's

needs. He sat down with a Gateway representative and told the person in an

"offhanded" way that the district never had enough people to support

technology. "I told him they could give us free tech support, and he said,

'Well, let's talk about that,'" said Garten. "So we sat down and talked about

how we had all these kids who are interested in computers and want to learn

about them, and we have a need to support our machines. I asked what we

could do?"

The answer came in the form of a proposal to Gateway that they would fund

and train teachers at each of Poway's high schools to learn how to certify

students. Gateway also provided curriculum, books and computers for the

kids to tear apart and put back together again. "Over a summer they trained

our teachers," said Garten. "We started this five years ago with one class at

each high school. Now we have two classes at each high school with a waiting


The program creates a win-win relationship, because the students that come

out of the classes take the A+ Certification exam and pass. "What happens is

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The Partners: Poway Unified School District and Gateway

District Website:

Gateway Website:

Contact: Charlie Garten Title: Executive Director

Department: Educational Technology and Information

Services Tel: 858.748.0010

they take the class their junior year and then in their senior year they come to

work for us or other companies," said Garten. "The payback for Gateway is

that their resellers hire these kids. We've given them a trade and they can

then go out and work for our business partners. They work in Gateway stores,

and they get credit for it their senior year and they make money. One of our

students landed an administrative assistant job and within a year he had

moved up to assistant director and was making $90,000 a year straight out

of high school."

In the process of working on this project, Poway cemented its relationship

with Gateway so much so that the company actually opened an office near

the district to help better meet their needs. "We've really established an

ongoing partnership with them," said Garten. "I believe without their

flexibility and assistance the A+ Certification project would have never

happened. They sat down with us, looked at the high schools and examined

where they could help. We formed a level of trust, and the RFP was born

from this trust and commitment from both of us to have a long-term


This ongoing commitment means that Gateway is always willing to provide

assistance and work with the district to increase the learning experience for

all students. "They helped our teachers learn how to use the technology,

which was really important," said Garten. "If you purchase technology and it

goes unused, there is a huge expense in that. So they helped our teachers

embrace the technology, which keeps the student learning and the program


The partnership has been an overall learning experience about the power of

business and education coming together to make something happen. "We

learned that a partnership can be a two-way street where both entities help

each other out," he added. "I think we were pleasantly surprised that

Gateway representatives were willing to come out and talk about long-term

commitments and partnerships. I think at the time that was surprising, but

now we see more of a long-term trend going in this direction. It was also

incredibly surprising that when I said let's pilot this in one class, Gateway's

representative said let's put this in every school -- and we did in a very

organized and well-planned way."

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The Partners: City University of New York (CUNY) and Dell

CUNY Website:

Dell Website:

Contact: Brian Cohen Title: University Chief

Information Officer Tel: 212.541.0365


• CUNY's partnership with Dell resulted in a tremendous overall cost savings on PCs.

• Dell was very flexible in negotiating an acceptable price package. • Dell has provided ongoing maintenance. • CUNY users can count on Dell to be responsive and help them

resolve technical problems. Brian Cohen, chief information officer for the City University of New York

(CUNY), assumed his position in 2001 and immediately began looking at

how he could leverage the enterprise from an operating basis to save money

and then turn around and use that saved money to apply it to the core

mission of education. He soon looked at something as simple as buying PCs

in bulk and quickly realized that CUNY's long-term relationship with Dell, a

provider of products and services required for customers to build their IT

and Internet infrastructures, could prove to be a cost-effective one.

“There were are times where the university would buy a large number of PCs

at one time and other times where we would buy one computer at a time.

There was no coordinated effort to consolidate our procurements or

negotiations for price,” said Cohen. “While the university uses the contracts

awarded by the state of New York, for the most part the cost per PC was the

price set by the contract and there was little or no negotiation with the

vendors to negotiate the best value for the university.”

Cohen’s first goal was to approach university partners who provided PCs,

including Dell, with the consolidated-procurement approach. Cohen

explained to Dell “that the University has purchased a large number of PCs

over the past several years in an uncoordinated way.” He asked, “If we, as an

enterprise, consolidate our planning efforts and purchase in a coordinated

fashion, what can you as a partner offer in terms of product and price.”

Dell showed a willingness to negotiate an acceptable price package. Cohen

then did some research on how many PCs the university was going to buy

over a period of time. He collaborated with his university departments to

determine the quantity and general specifications of what PCs should look


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The Partners: City University of New York (CUNY) and Dell

CUNY Website:

Dell Website:

Contact: Brian Cohen Title: University Chief

Information Officer Tel: 212.541.0365

“In moving forward, we began to plan and coordinate internally with the

colleges to determine the anticipated number of PCs the university was

planning to purchase. With a common specification and quantity needed

now available, the university was now in the position to negotiate with Dell

under an existing NYS contract.

“Dell recognized the importance and value of the relationship with the

university and wanted to continue to be a partner," he continued. "In the end

the university achieved great value by changing the way we historically

approached IT procurements. We got more for less. Dell provided a very

competitive price of a little more than $1,000 per PC, which is based on the

quantity that the university bought translated into almost $2.5 million in


Dell has also been flexible in providing improved maintenance coverage for

the colleges. They have been willing to provide necessary management

reports that allow CUNY to monitor the success of the program both in its

infancy and as it moves forward. "They have been very good in ensuring that

everyone is aware of what they are offering so the colleges can take advantage

of it," said Cohen.

Additionally, Dell worked with CUNY to support other college technology

initiatives. “In one case, Dell was able to provide as a result of a grant from

Intel Corp, the funding to purchase equipment needed to create a college

computer grid and to connect that grid to other grids that were being

developed in the university. It is this type of collaboration and support that

made it possible for the college to complete its project.”

Overall, Cohen has been very satisfied with what the Dell partnership has

done for CUNY. “A good partner doesn’t stop listening to you after the

contract is signed or solely for the purpose of repeat business,” he said. “A

good partner is always there when you need them and responsive to your

needs at all times. It’s important to know that when you have a problem your

call or e-mail will get almost immediate attention. IT problems need quick

response. We don’t have the luxury of waiting 10 days for response or


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