Documents/4P4BPS/2: Engagement & Empowerment/2.3: Service Delivery

2.3: Service Delivery

Tap citizens to help deliver better services at a lower cost

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Tapping citizens to help deliver better services at a lower cost -- Citizens can play an important role not just in the design but also in the delivery of public services. New York City's 311 system allows residents to report nonemergency complaints -- about things like potholes or garbage collection -- via a website, a mobile app, text messaging, Skype, or phone. Thanks to the Open311 platform, a free web-based application programming interface, the city now processes 60 percent of service requests online, lowering transaction and issue-resolution costs. Open311 platforms have been rolled out to other cities as well, including San Francisco and Chicago. These platforms, along with third-party apps such as SeeClickFix, empower citizens to do some of the work that has traditionally fallen to municipal employees: citizens in effect act as city inspectors. In a similar vein, the mayors of Boston and Philadelphia have each created an Office of New Urban Mechanics, which works with residents to fund and launch promising projects that address civic needs. Citizens -- not government employees -- come up with the ideas and do much of the work, but also reap the benefits. The trend toward participatory government will only gain in strength. And by engaging and empowering citizens to codesign and codeliver public services, governments can not only better meet citizens' needs; they can also shift some of the burden of accountability from the state to the people, allowing high-quality delivery of services in an environment of constrained resources.