Sustainability in Government

The GAO released a new report yesterday called Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government Programs, Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue. It could start a very productive conversation or become a political football.

Those of us who have worked in government, believe in organizational collaboration, change and innovation have seen many redundant and duplicative grants, programs and projects. Over the years, the cost in time, talent and funding is very high. Not only do we fund things, often over and over again, we rarely build on previously funded programs or grants. What happened to all the hard work and good ideas before now? A grant goes up and it comes down.

Categorical funding is not a friend to collaboration. A great majority of current issues clearly cross organizational, sector and discipline boundaries. It’s relatively easy to spend the same dollar over and over again and not look back.

As we seek to address and survive a massive federal debt and political wrangling over programs, we could be leading the charge to become sustainable. We are capable of directing organizational innovation, taking hold of difficult decisions, while consciously looking for ways to jump ahead of the curve. I think we can see around the corner.

Just like corporate responsibility is a growing field, I think sustainability in government is something we can anticipate, not wait for the hammer to come down. A great deal of what is going on now has been anticipated for years, do we have the courage to call the question ourselves?

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Allen Sheaprd

Reduction in duplication sounds like “job elimination” This is not always the case.

The budget is fixed – not the oppertunity. By reducing duplication each department is free to do more tasks with the same funding.

The only problem may be the way each department uses data they collect. Treasury may collect general spending projections while the labor dept. wants information by business sector

Andrea Schneider

I’m so glad to see comments on this post.

Do you think we can create federal incubator sites? Do we have champions?

There are fabulous thinkers available to us. We can partner up with innovative design companies, generate think-tanks with an action orientation, look to our own talent in government, find funding in new ways. Evaluate what we do transparently.

It’s a challenge to change our embedded bureaucratic structure and funding redundancy. Seriously addressing the obvious “silo” behavior’s needs credible and strong leadership over time. We have the talent, skills and knowledge to create new organizational models. Remarkable ideas need organizations where they can flourish and grow.

I’d like to see the administration develop standards of excellence for innovative and sustainable government. What would it look like if we were really successful?

Andrea Schneider

We need practical proposals for Innovation in Government and the implementation of the Open Government Directive. By developing funding partnerships with business and philanthropy, we can set up demonstration projects and grants which would benefit each partner.

It makes no sense when each sector does its own thing, spending a different dollar on a similar project or program, requiring community involvement from the same people, over and over again (community fatigue), asks for data from a slightly different point of view and publishes a report, which remains on a shelf, rarely shared.

This is very frustrating and wasteful of time, energy and resources. To what end? Is it that important each “silo” holds on to its position? What is it going to take to address these practices? I just read Innovation in Government put together by the Partnership for Public Service and Ideo (one of my favorite companies). GovLoop put it up under the “Resources” tab.

I would like to discuss this report with other people and determine whether it can help us move our ideas into practice. Check out the terrific discussion being generated here on GovLoop and add your ideas.

I want to know where to send good ideas for Open Gov and Innovation. I think Chris Vein (new White House CTO) should create an Innovation Center and a place to incubate new ideas. The best could get funding from a new partnership between government, philanthropy and business.