Tag Archives: Jane Fountain

New report: Building Cross-Agency Collaboration

Last week, Jane Fountain presented the results of a broad study of cross-agency collaboration at the annual plenary meeting of the Administrative Conference of the United States, an independent federal agency. The final report, The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010: Examining Constraints To, and Providing Tools For, Cross-Agency Collaboration brings together guidance and recommendations for public managers, examines the early implementation of some of the provisions of the Government Performance and Results Act Modernization Act of 2010, and highlights four case studies of successful, important cross-agency collaboration. I’m immensely grateful to current and former government officials and other experts who gave generously of their time and knowledge to teach me more of the inner workings of cross-agency collaboration.

The case studies in the report are meant to illustrate concretely the complexity of cross-agency collaboration and, in most cases, the long period of development required for public managers and others to build shared goals, language, methods and processes. The case studies demonstrate innovative and impressive cross-agency projects.

The National Export Initiative, one of the administration’s first set of cross-agency priority, or CAP, goals is meant to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014. The effort brings together about 20 different departments and agencies responsible for trade policy, negotiations, funding and other resources, and export promotion. The initiative builds on the Trade Policy Coordinating Committee, established by Congress in 1992, and strengthens its strategic focus and coherence.

Reducing veteran homelessness focuses on the “virtual agency” created by policy entrepreneurs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD, and the Veterans Administration, the VA, working with a constellation of state and local government agencies, NGOs and other partners. The HUD-VA Supportive Housing rental voucher program, an interagency program that actually began in 1991, is one of the core cross-agency vehicles to move veterans with a variety of physical and mental health needs out of chronic homelessness. Nineteen federal agencies comprise the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). But local level collaboration is critical for implementation. The case describes the linkages from Washington to local level, community decision makers.

The Partnership for Sustainable Communities is a collaboration among three federal agencies designed to reconceptualize policies and practices by coordinating those who work on affordable housing with those who focus on affordable transportation to produce solutions for communities that will help people live in proximity to jobs with the ability to choose affordable transportation. The U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency have worked together to build this cross-agency capacity. Here’s a brief video from the mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut on the importance of the collaboration.

An expert at DOT said of this initiative:

One of the biggest [cross-agency projects] in the Obama Administration has been the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. This is clearly worth doing. We do a profound amount of transportation, housing, economic development, environmental planning and investment that is completely disconnected. We fail to capitalize on synergies and we spend way more money than we should and we don’t get the outcomes. That’s an area where the challenges [of cross-agency collaboration] are worth it.

Expedited Permitting and Review of Federal Infrastructure Projects is a case study that offers guidance to public managers and others on the cross-agency use of dashboards, rapid response teams, and interventions at the regional and local levels to push collaboration throughout agencies. Quoting from a presidential memorandum of August 2011, the project is meant to more fully leverage strategies such as “integrating planning and environmental reviews; coordinating multi-agency or multi-governmental reviews and approvals to run concurrently; setting clear schedules for completing steps in the environmental review and permitting process; and utilizing information technologies to inform the public about the progress of environmental reviews as well as the progress of Federal permitting and review processes.”

The background and recommendations in the report build on and expand previous research, including a more concise report titled Implementing Cross-Agency Collaboration: A Guide for Federal Managers, published by the IBM Center for the Business of Government.

The ACUS annual plenary discussion concerning the study were surprising, in a positive way, because agency general counsel and attorneys discussed how important it is to them to understand the components of cross-agency collaboration. Most public management researchers know little about the perspectives and role of agency general counsel and attorneys with respect to interagency collaboration. We need to know more. Some attorneys described how agency attorneys are thrown into complex negotiations across agencies, and multiple parties, having had no training or experience in these matters. The video of the plenary session discussion is useful for its recording of this discussion. ACUS also makes publicly available on its website the meetings, minutes and various reviews of the study and recommendations as these were carried out by the ACUS Committee on Administration and Management.

Jane Fountain keynote address at Encuentro Internacional de Investigadores en Administración 2013

 

Jane Fountain gave a keynote address, “Disjointed Innovation: Prospects for Digital Governance,” at the Encuentro Internacional de Investigadores en Administración 2013 held in Santa Marta, Colombia on November 26 and 27, 2013. The conference was organized by the Facultad de Administración de Empresas de la Universidad Externado de Colombia y la Universidad del Valle. The conference site was organized by the University Magdalena, Santa Marta. Professor Fountain also conducted a one-day executive education workshop on public management and innovation for faculty from throughout Colombia held at the University of Magdalena.

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Jane Fountain at the 2013 Urban Forum: Connecting Technologies to Citizenship

 

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Jane Fountain wrote an invited white paper, “Connecting Technologies to Citizenship,” and participated in the panel “Tuning in: How can technology help unite the government with it’s people?” at the 2013 Urban Forum: Technology and the Resilience of Metropolitan Regions held in Chicago on December 5, 2013. Twitter: #UIC_UrbanForum

A pre-publication copy of the white paper  “Connecting Technologies to Citizenship” .

Videos of the panels are available here: http://www.uicurbanforum.org/videos/2013/index.php

Photos of the Urban Forum panelists and talks here: http://flic.kr/p/inTeZy

The political context of healthcare.gov

Government IT is always produced and implemented in political context. The London School of Economics US American Politics and Policy blog editor asked me to write about the healthcare.gov launch. Here’s the post aiming to put the launch into the context of other large government IT projects and polarized politics. It’s titled:

The difficulties of Healthcare.gov need to be seen in the context of an acrimonious political climate and the poor record of large and complex IT projects.

http://bit.ly/1d7ujdZ

World Social Science Forum panel on Transformation of Public Policy in the Digital Age

Seok-Jin Eom newSeok-Jin Eom, associate professor at Seoul National University and former NCDG fellow, joined Jane Fountain and international colleagues as part of an international panel titled “Transformation of Public Policy and Governance in the Digital Age,” at the World Social Science Forum, October 13-15, at the Palais des congrès de Montréal Canada. The conference theme was “social transformation in the digital age.”

The international panel was organized by the Korean Social Science Research Council and the Korean National Commission for UNESCO. It brought together scholars from several major countries to cast a critical look at public policy and governance, one of the important social transformations in the digital age, in a comparative setting. To this end, the KOSSREC invited internationally recognized scholars on the subject from four countries including China, Japan, Korea, and the USA.

The panel was coordinated by Yong-duck Jung, President of the Korean Social Science Research Council and Professor, Seoul National University. Invited scholars and their papers included:

Professors Seok-Jin Eom and Yong-duck Jung (Seoul National University), “Administrative Information Sharing and its Impacts on Governance in Korea”

Professor Hiroshi Shiratori (Hosei University), “Transformation of Public Policy and Governance in the Digital Age: The Case of Japan”

Professor Sun Yu (School of Government, Beijing Normal University) and Dang Shengcui, Fang Bin, and Zhao Qiuyan (China Academy of Social Management, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China), “Public Access to Administrative Information and Participatory Governance in the Digital Age: Findings from China’s Survey”

Professor Jane Fountain (National Center for Digital Government and University of Massachusetts Amherst) “Virtual Agencies: Cross-Agency Collaboration in the U.S. Federal Government”

The invited scholars presented their country experiences with an eye toward finding common themes cross-nationally. The panel discussion focused on the ways and the results in which digital technologies are being used for public policy development and innovation in governance. A key theme that emerged from the panel presentations and discussion is the centrality of cross-agency collaboration and its importance for innovation in government globally.