Joined-Up Management: A Next Step in Cross-Agency Collaboration


Joined-Up Management: A Next Step in Cross-Agency Collaboration

Monday, December 3rd, 2012 - 14:59
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Most government activities are managed through programs in agencies. The pace of technology and business change is causing leading organizations that have always collaborated to move to a new model of managing activities from a cross-program view, leveraging resources to more effectively serve a citizen or business.

For most of the last century, when the government determined a need for an activity in a certain area, the response has come in the form of a program that sits within an agency. Funding is requested by administrations within accounts dedicated to that program. Congress then authorizes funds under committees focused on the program. Managers run their programs as a line operation, with staff (and often contractors) working within program authorities in a hierarchical structure. Oversight processes from OMB to Congress to outside interest groups are aligned to influence the program. Results are generally measured by how much money is spent, how many people are served, and in some cases by outcomes tied to particular program missions.

Over the past two decades, coinciding with the growth of the Internet as an information resource without boundaries, a growing number of initiatives have sought to collaborate across programs to better align government resources to those being served: citizens, business, schools, states, or cities. These initiatives have evolved over time. For example:

  • The Clinton administration’s National Performance Review (NPR) opened the floodgates for cross-program ideas. NPR leaders first explored the idea of reformulating government services around life events like births, college attendance, starting a business, and retiring. Innovators came together under the auspices of NPR to define the art of the possible.
  • The Bush administration’s e-government initiatives used technology to integrate resources through front doors that the public could enter to access common services and information, without regard to which agency hosted a given service. To make these front doors work effectively, OMB brought together agency officials who wanted to make change happen, creating committees and boards that oversaw coordinated delivery of services.
  • The Obama administration’s “High-Priority Goals” focus on improving the performance of over a dozen activities with programs in multiple agencies. These goals include doubling exports, which involves more than eight contributing agencies and over 40 programs within them, and improving cybersecurity, which involves virtually every agency in the government. The goals address significant mission challenges in government and have a common set of performance measures, so that the collaboration centers on government programs that have a direct effect for citizens or businesses.

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