Integrated Service Delivery

… a core concept in Implementation and Delivery and Atlas107

Concept description

Leslie Pal (reference below) summarizes the meaning of integrated service delivery (ISD).

Pal writes (p. 214-215):

“Integrated service delivery “is the result of bringing together related government services so that citizens can access them in a single seamless” experience based on their wants and needs. A seamless service delivery system is “fluid, agile, integrated, transparent, connected” (Kernaghan, 2007, p. 103).

“Service Canada was launched in the 2005 federal budget, building on the successes of the Government On-Line initiative that ran from 1999 to 2006. Service Canada is a single window for federal government services, provided through several channels such as in-person, telephone, Internet, and mail delivery. It has more than 20 000 employees, operates in over 600 in-person points of service across Canada, and has millions of unique website visits per year. Just as important, it is “working with a growing number of federal departments, the majority of provinces and community partners to bring services and benefits together in a single service delivery network” (Flumian et al., 2007, p. 559). Services are available by subject (e.g., education, pensions) but also by categories of citizens (e.g., Aboriginal peoples, newcomers to Canada, people with disabilities).

“It is clear that integrated service delivery of this nature – other examples include Canada’s BizPal, which “provides Canadian businesses with one-stop access to permit and licence information for all levels of government,” and Australia’s Centrelink (Halligan & Wills, 2008) – does hold important implications both for services and how they are delivered, as well as government organization. Service  Canada’s ambition is to provide Canadian citizens and organizations with the bulk of federal as well as provincial and community-based services 24/7 through multiple channels. Just as important, in many instances it lets those citizens and organizations have access to data (e.g., the status of an immigration or passport application) that previously would have been available only to government officials. On the organizational side, Service Canada is becoming the ISD mechanism for most federal departments, which will eventually focus more of their efforts on policy development and program design, and away from implementation of programs and services. Doing this will not be easy:

Striking a new balance between hierarchy and flexibility, between vertical and horizontal dimensions of accountability, is the nexus of technological and organizational interoperability and innovative leadership. Strengthening the capacities of the public service in this regard, via initiatives such as Service Canada, entails more than incremental modifications to existing structures and processes. A more networked and collaborative mindset must take hold in order to loosen the forces of bureaucratic and political tradition that are intertwined with vertical hierarchy and control. (Roy, 2006, p. 284)

“The challenge is especially acute in a federal state like Canada’s. Whereas networking and collaboration seem, by definition, to be good things and almost certainly are when departments at one level of government work together, an overemphasis on the technical efficiency of service delivery can undermine federal division of responsibilities and jurisdictions if the only goal is a “single window” (Fafard, Rocher, & Côté, 2009).”

See also: New Public Management.

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Promoting Innovation and Driving Change (core topic) in Implementation and Delivery and Atlas107


Leslie Pal (2014), Beyond Policy Analysis – Public Issue Management in Turbulent Times, Fifth Edition, Nelson Education, Toronto. See Beyond Policy Analysis – Book Highlights.

Fafard, P., Rocher, F., & Côté, C. (2009). Clients, citizens and federalism: A critical appraisal of integrated service delivery in Canada. Canadian Public Administration, 52(4), 549–568.

Flumian, M., Coe, A., & Kernaghan, K. (2007). Transforming service to Canadians: The Service Canada Model. International Review of Administrative Sciences, 73(4), 557–568.

Halligan, J., with Wills, J. (2008). The Centrelink experiment: Innovation in service delivery. Canberra, AU: The Australia National University E Press and the Australia and New Zealand School of Government and the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.

Roy, J. (2006). E-government in Canada: Transformation for the digital age. Ottawa, ON: University of Ottawa Press.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 12 April 2017.

Image: Lubbock Area United Way, at, accessed 6 April 2017.