Managing Cross-Agency Collaboration

This interview is part of a DorobekINSIDER mini series with experts looking to help shape a management platform for the new administration. Check out all of the stories in the new series, Good Government Management, here.

Planning for a smooth presidential transition is not only recommended, it is legally supported. In 2010 Congress passed the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act, enabling eligible candidates to utilize certain presidential transition services before the general election. The IBM Center for The Business of Government and the Partnership for Public Service strongly believe in taking advantage of the Act to create a better management agenda.

Which is why they’ve collaborated in launching a Management Roadmap for the next administration. A recent report, Building an Enterprise Government: Creating an Ecosystem for Cross-Agency Collaboration in the Next Administration, focused on one of the initiatives they hope to see in the next administration.

Dan Chenok, Executive Director of the IBM Center for The Business of Government, sat down with Christopher Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program to discuss the report’s cross-agency collaboration recommendations.

“Many major national priorities that affect large volumes of citizens and key parts of the economy involve multiple agencies. They create the need to work together in new ways, across agencies,” Chenok said.

But, there are inherent difficulties associated with creating proper management across agencies. “Each agency tends to look at problems separately, which creates inefficiency at the government level. A lot of burden at the institutional level could be reduced through better collaboration,” Chenok explained.

As such, Chenok shared some of the report’s recommendations for transition teams to consider:

  • Institutionalize Collaboration: There is a need for a more strategic approach to how various leaders interact and collaborate. Therefore, various cross-agency councils, such as the President’s Management Council, the Chief Information Officer’s Council, and the Chief Financial Officer’s Council, need to create a systemic structure that incorporates an enterprise framework. This governance framework, for cross-agency collaboration, would foster stronger relationships with the deputy secretaries, and in turn, would open communication across the board.
  • Create a New Management Position: The new role of the White House Chief Operating Officer (COO), Chenok stated, would supplement the role of OMB and its Deputy Director for Management, which has specific ongoing statutory responsibilities for the management of finances, IT, acquisition, and more. “The impetus of a White House senior advisor allows for a strong consistent voice at the top to work with leaders who are driving cross-agency initiatives since the OMB Deputy Director for Management may not always have the time to think about cross-agency mission areas.” In other words, the COO would bring a central presidential focus on linking cross-agency management to mission.
  • Set Enterprise Mission Goals: Chenok shared that transition teams need to set two types of goals. “You need a large vision of expectations that federal employees and stakeholders can work toward-on the mission side. Then, you need a set of mission support goals that really enables government to use resources most effectively to achieve those mission outcomes.”

There is a strong connection between proper cross-agency management and policy. Therefore, it is key that transition teams think about this type of management early on. Otherwise, the next administration will find it hard to achieve their mission and policy goals in the desired manner.

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