Fountain Delivers Keynote at EROPA E-Governance Seminar

May 30, 2014 – Distinguished Professor Jane Fountain, Director of the National Center for Digital Government, gave a keynote address yesterday at the International Seminar on E-Government and Modern Governance in Asia. The seminar, hosted by the Eastern Regional Organization for Public Administration, brought together researchers and practitioners of e-governance from around the globe. The two-day session based in Beijing aimed to accelerate the smart and intentional development of e-government throughout Asian countries.


The Eastern Regional Organization for Public Administration was established in 1960 to advance the economic and social development of the region through the promotion of the study, practice and status of public administration and management.

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.

Fountain on Federal News Radio to Discuss Cross-Agency Collaboration

Jane Fountain
Jane Fountain

Jane Fountain was featured on a special edition of the Business of Government Hour on Federal News Radio – Conversation with Authors: Implementing Cross-Agency Collaboration: A Guide for Federal Managers with Dr. Jane Fountain on June 17. The interview focuses on collaborative governance, specifically, cross-agency collaboration in the federal government. Recent changes in law and advances in technology have led to an environment that makes cross-agency collaboration more manageable. The interview focuses on how agency leaders can foster cross-agency collaboration as a way of doing business and serving the public. Much of the interview is based on Fountain’s empirical research, including a new report for public managers titled “Implementing Cross-Agency Collaboration: A Guide for Federal Managers,” published by the IBM Center for the Business of Government.

Link to the radio program

Download an mp3 of the interview

Fountain elected Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration

Professor Jane Fountain has been elected a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, which was chartered by Congress in 1967 as an independent body to help government leaders build more effective, efficient, accountable and transparent public sector organizations. Her induction took place on Nov. 15, 2012 during the academy’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

The National Academy relies on its fellows to conduct in-depth studies and analyses that anticipate, evaluate and make recommendations on crucial public management, governance, policy and operational challenges facing the federal government and public sector organizations. Fellows also provide technical assistance, Congressional testimony and participate in forums or conferences.

Fountain joins roughly 700 fellows that include members of Congress; federal and state cabinet members; federal department deputy and undersecretaries; governors; mayors; leading scholars; and chancellors, presidents and deans of colleges and universities. Fellows often are asked to lend their expertise on complex issues that require agreements and partnerships bridging government departments and agencies, and that sometimes necessitate public-private alliances. For example, National Academy fellows have helped create a management transformation plan for federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies and have established benchmarks for environmental programs that span federal, state and local sectors.

New fellows are elected by the entire membership after a rigorous nomination process each spring. For details of the NAPA fall meeting, see