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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for New Administration

Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for New Administration

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President Obama has called for government to become more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. The National Academy's Collaboration Project has issued a paper highlighting three priorities that the new President must focus on to make this vision a reality. The paper, "Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration," encourages the President to create an open technology environment; treat data as a national asset; and foster a culture and framework for collaboration. By focusing on these priorities, President Obama can begin transforming federal agencies and departments so that they can execute the goal of a more open and transparent democracy.
President Obama has called for government to become more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. The National Academy's Collaboration Project has issued a paper highlighting three priorities that the new President must focus on to make this vision a reality. The paper, "Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration," encourages the President to create an open technology environment; treat data as a national asset; and foster a culture and framework for collaboration. By focusing on these priorities, President Obama can begin transforming federal agencies and departments so that they can execute the goal of a more open and transparent democracy.

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Categories:Types, School Work
Published by: Collaboration Project on Feb 04, 2009
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10/16/2011

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In recent history, government has focused on enhancing the speed and efficiency of transactions
and processes that government regularly performs. Laws like the 1993 Government Performance
and Results Act and the 1980 Paperwork Reduction Act emphasize process changes to centralize
information and move it more quickly through pre-established channels. A similar emphasis has
guided government’s approach to technology, with e-government initiatives focused on
consolidating and automating processes and treating citizens as the “customer” around whom
this activity revolves (see Appendix A).

Focusing on efficiency and results helps keep government dynamic and relevant. But the
underlying “principal agent” model that defines this outlook is hierarchical and inhibits
collaboration. Even the best public managers must work within a bureaucracy designed to be
fine-tuned through rigid control—not transformed through collaboration. The threats and
problems facing us reach across agencies and sectors, but our approaches to solving them do not.
The result is a kind of artificial ceiling that limits the effectiveness of government.

The next President has the opportunity—and the responsibility—to shatter that ceiling. While the
use of data and IT infrastructure are critical prerequisites for implementing a vision of
collaborative governance, neither is sufficient unless the people who share that data and use that
infrastructure are empowered to work collaboratively. Leadership is crucial to making this
happen.

Implementing a culture of collaboration will be a task primarily of leadership by example. The
President has already made a clear commitment to make policy by soliciting and synthesizing
diverse viewpoints—enabled by technology and potentially at mass scale. Cascading this
commitment through government is vital and requires three tactics:

Practice active collaboration to enhance not only the efficiency of service delivery, but
the quality and effectiveness of the service being delivered by fostering adoption of
collaborative tools and approaches.

Integrate Chief Information Officers into the missions of their agencies so they
provide strategic and technical support and are empowered and required to proactively
seek innovation by applying new technologies.

Resolve ambiguities in policy and law that heighten risk and inhibit innovation.

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