Professor Jane Fountain of Political Science and Public Policy has published a new report that spells out the recipe for successful working relationships across government agencies. The report, titled Implementing Cross-Agency Collaboration: A Guide for Federal Managers
and released by the IBM Center for the Business of Government, indicates that the success of these important partnerships depends on two main ingredients: effective people skills and strong management systems.
According to Fountain’s report, managers of successful cross-agency collaborations “must use interpersonal and team-level skills, while simultaneously working with others to develop rigorous management processes and systems robust enough to be sustained across formal bureaucratic boundaries.” In other words, it’s not enough for managers to work well with people in general; they must also be strategic and intentional about establishing smart processes that can be translated across and applied to many different agencies.
Fountain identifies seven key organizational processes that foster cross-agency collaboration:
· Setting significant goals
· Specifying roles and responsibilities
· Formalizing agreements
· Developing shared operations
· Obtaining adequate resources
· Creating effective communication channels
· Adapting through shared learning
This report was done in part as a response to the Government Performance and Results Act Modernization Act of 2010, which mandates increased cross-agency collaboration. Fountain concludes the paper with recommendations to the Office of Budget Management, to improve partnerships between government agencies during President Obama’s second term.
Fountain directs the National Center for Digital Government (NCDG), housed at the Center for Public Policy and Administration. NCDG was created with support from the National Science Foundation to develop research and infrastructure for the emerging field of information technology and governance.