“Over the last five years the conservative estimate is that more
than 220 councils have been involved in shared services.”
- Local Government Association (UK)
“The Local Government sector has had considerable successes to date with shared services on a national and regional basis. As noted in the LGER Report and updated by the CCMA, the sector has working examples of shared services – in the areas of IT, Payroll, Regional Design Offices and lead authority models (where one local authority provides a service on behalf of others).”
- Local Government Efficiency Review Implementation Group (IE)
A citizen-centric focus
At a time of severe financial restraints and declining public resources, efficiently meeting local service needs is a challenge for local and national governments. Sharing services among public bodies is about organising and delivering services around the need of the citizen – and building greater accountability into the system. The shared services agenda defines the next generation of effective service delivery; the emphasis being on providing high quality services that meet the expectations of all citizens and which targets duplication across agencies and sectors.
Proximity creates opportunities
The reform of public services is high on the political agenda in every EU country. In the Island of Ireland, shared services have become a priority for both administrations, and are a key feature of the collaborative agenda with which councils in the Irish border region are increasingly engaging.
In the current economic climate, all public agencies, including local government, must challenge themselves to collaborate and engage in the sharing of services; and in the case of the island of Ireland, this must be on an inter-county/council and, even more ambitiously, on a cross-border basis. For example, environmental management, economic development and tourism by their nature cross administrative and / or jurisdictional boundaries, and require imaginative solutions and the sharing of resources and expertise.
The shared services agenda directly supports EU policy initiatives (such as EU2020) and the effective implementation of EU Directives that have cross-border implications. The shared services agenda is also responsive to how increased public sector collaboration will better position local governments in the border region to respond to future EU funding programmes that emphasise the key role of ‘territory’, ‘clustering’ and the effective and efficient delivery of high quality services to citizens.
 Shared Services across Local Government – Sharing International Experiences, ICLRD 2012, p. 8