NextGen12: Cross Sector Collaboration

We had a nice full crowd to hear Bridger McGaw, (Special Advisor for Cyber Security and Infrastructure Resilience, Office of the Under Secretary, National Protection and Programs Directorate, Department of Homeland Security), Stewart Sarkozy-Banoczy, (Director, Office for International and Philanthropic Innovation, Department of Housing and Urban Development), Art Stevens, (General Manager, MicroPlace), and Michelle Viegas, (Operations Senior Associate, Inter-American Development Bank) discuss Cross Sector Collaboration, with Stacy Kane, (Presidential Management Fellow, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) as the moderator.

Here is the summary for those who weren’t able to attend:To solve social problems, the government must find creative ways to work with other types of organizations including foundations, private companies, and non-profit organizations. In this session, you will learn about innovative examples of cross-sector collaboration. The presenters will also provide you with tips on how to engage in cross-sector collaboration in your own work in the government.

Stacy starts off introducing the group, and reminding everyone that collaboration is key to making a difference in government, and that it should be a part of planning at every level of government.

Stewart gets the group going by observing that although the photos are of the HUD building, the room is called Treasury. He says that public-private collaboration has grown substantially and is usually handled by one person close to the director’s office. The creation of the his most recent program was eased by an internal institutional knowledge collection system, built around a wiki and many conversations built around ‘how to talk to who.’ He also had an external program, a website, that helped those who wished to collaborate from the private sector know who is who and who should spoken to. He also discussed the importance of multi-agency meetings where each agency discusses what they do and how they do it. Further, he suggested treating the smaller, outside D.C. public sector offices as clients to be matched with philanthropic and/or private sector groups. He closed by remarking that the idea that government can be nimble or responsible is difficult for many to understand, but entirely possible.

Michelle began by discussing her bank’s work with 48 shareholder countries, 26 of which are fund providers. She believes that a systematic approach to collaboration can be of great use to any; first by aligning the strengths of one organization with another, and then working to bring those strengths to bear. She discusses working with Spain and Sweden’s Overseas Development Funds, partnering with them to target specific, long term goals such as zero road deaths in Latin America. As an example, she discuses at 250 million dollar Bolivian bridge that fell short; through collaboration with Korea, the IDV was able to loan the final funds to get the bridge finished. Unfortunately, she talked incredibly quickly and I couldn’t get every part of her excellent presentation – please contact her if you would like more details

Bridger begins with a poll of who’s with who in the room, which unsurprisingly is heavily government. He discusses the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, a merging of 22 agencies with 22 cultures, and their separate “trusted friendships.” He discusses his own position, which be statute is to collaborate with the private sector and requires paying close attention to the rhetoric to determine where the private sector ends and the public begins. Further, he suggests using rhetoric and tone to determine who and where collaboration and partnership could occur. “Not government” is the easiest way to sort these things out. He also stresses the importance of the best value through collaboration, and to avoid attempting being all things to all people. Mutual goals, shared governance, and shared risk/reward are key starting posts for public/private collaboration. A great honest broker – if it can’t be you, go find someone/some agency who can – is also a good point to start for collaboration, especially in crisis situations. Don’t be afraid to take ideas – it may be new to you, but it isn’t new to everyone (hilariously named Columbus theory).

Art rounds out the conversation by discussing the interesting dichotomy between his years in investment banking and then his nonprofit work now. He uses the example of a food donation program run by a friend that started as a idea kernel and through collaboration ended up with fifty million budget. He also discussed Karen Hughes, the abused bus monitor, and the Kickstarter transfer process where sixty two thousand people gave seven hundred thousand dollars to ease her issue, and how tiny amounts of collaboration can lead to huge results. He discussed further the difference between many-to-one (Kickstarter) funding and one-to-many (government) funding. He closes out by reminding everyone that optimism in collaboration is key.

All in all, a great forum!

If you want to check out the summit and were unable to attend, the conference is being live streamed on GovLoop, simply head over to the homepage of GovLoop and you’ll find links and resources to follow throughout the day. Since you can’t join us in person, we hope you’ll follow us digitally! Also, follow the conference using @nextgengov and #nextgengov, posting on GovLoop using Nextgen.

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