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Thoughts from Our Fellows: Develop New Approaches to Public Governance and Engagement

July 30, 2021

July 30, 2021

Welcome to Thoughts from Our Fellows, a collection of recent activity regarding the Academy's Grand Challenge of each Month. In July, the Academy focused on Develop New Approaches to Public Governance and Engagement. Below you will find:

  • The recommendations from our Election 2020 project regarding the first year of the new administration,
  • Recommendations from our fellows for the next few years of the Biden Administration,
  • Management Matters podcasts related to this grand challenge, and
  • The top 5 clicked articles on this grand challenge from our Management Matters online newsletter.
											 NAPA Public Governance 72
Election 2020

In November of 2020, the Academy published 3 papers on this topic as a part of its Election 2020 Project. The Working Group recommended the following actions for its first paper, Enhancing Public Governance:

  • Use existing opportunities, like supporting veterans who have returned to their communities or preventing and ending homelessness, that can provide a base to build new models of effective collaborative governance.
  • In the long-term, the federal government must test models for a more collaborative governance approach and design and implement customer-and client-centric approaches to selected problems.
  • OMB should direct specified agencies to commit in their strategic planning to a Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) goal to improve the delivery and effectiveness of services for individuals and families through collaboration across multiple human service areas.
  • Lead agencies or cross-agency teams for each area of opportunity should design and pilot a community care coordination delivery model that best supports flexible and agile service delivery under varied local conditions.
  • The Administration should establish a mechanism that enables state and local governments and other community experts to participate in designing and planning collaborative approaches.
  • OMB should employ portfolio budgeting, using strategic objectives as the unit of analysis, to guide resource allocation decisions and inform regulatory and administrative reforms to support the strategy.
  • OMB and other central agencies should work together to establish shared knowledge platforms and clearinghouses.
  • OMB and the White House, with state and local partners, should establish a working group to develop a national plan for federal actions to enable all levels of government to strengthen data, analytics, and evaluation capacity.
  • OMB and lead agencies for each area of opportunity should proactively pursue the use of existing program waivers to allow state and local governments to braid and blend funds to create person-centered service delivery models.

The Working Group recommended the following actions for its second paper, Engaging Americans and Increasing Public Trust:

  • Establish a White House Office of Public Engagement and Service
  • Update the Open Government Directive.
  • Create reusable platforms/tools for use at the local level.
  • Create platforms and tools that support real-time engagement and co-productions with those outside of government.
  • Organize citizen assemblies.
  • Sponsoring deliberative dialogue forums with members of Congress.
  • Using deliberative processes.
  • Expand use of participatory budgeting at the state and local level.
  • Encourage cross-sector engagement with civil society institutions.
  • Set up institutionalized structures for engagement across local, state, and federal levels of government—creating a “civic layer.”
  • Create incentives for individual participation, such as “citizen engagement” accounts, badges, certificates, and bonds.
  • Promote civic education.

The Working Group recommended the following actions for its third paper, OMB Information Policy and Use Select Task Force:

  • The President should nominate a Director, Deputy Director, and Deputy Director for Management who commit to prioritizing and improving OMB’s information policy and use responsibilities.
  • The OMB Director should establish a new position—Assistant Director for Information Policy—to oversee, manage, and coordinate relevant activities across OMB’s divisions and offices.
  • Within the first 100 days of the Administration, the Assistant Director for Information Policy should identify OMB responsibilities for information policy and practice and inform the other Executive Office of the President (EOP) components of OMB’s roles and responsibilities to the other components.
  • Reinvigorate and continue the trajectory of the Federal Data Strategy, under the leadership of the new Assistant Director for Information Policy.
  • Evidence Act implementation activities should proceed, with a coordinated approach for implementation led by the new Assistant Director for Information Policy.
  • Establish a mechanism through the internal quarterly President’s Management Agenda update in which senior leaders from across OMB meet to discuss major management initiatives, including information management initiatives.

Thoughts from Our Fellows

In addition to our Election 2020 papers, which focused on recommended actions for the first year of a new administration, the Academy also asked its Fellows for advice for the first four years of the Biden Administration.

Susan E. Dudley: Introduce more rigor into understanding the distributional impacts of regulatory policies. This is especially important because well-organized and politically-connected groups have outsized influence in the regulatory process and can shape regulatory policy to benefit their interests at the expense of more diffuse interests. Developing analytical tools to estimate the opportunity costs of alternative approaches with an emphasis on how regulatory solutions affect disadvantaged, vulnerable, or marginalized communities is an important step in making regulations more accountable, transparent, effective, and just.

Robert P. Strauss: Adopt oaths of office for school board members and senior school officials which are comparable to those required in the for-profit sector. In his joint conference paper published by the Cleveland Federal Reserve Board, Severino and Strauss examine carefully, state by state, oaths of office required of school board members upon their election, demonstrate how porous and inattentive the oaths are to ensuring learning outcomes, and suggest a new oath of office. The suggested oath of office obligates school board members to allocate resources solely for the purpose of ensuring students learn to their intellectual capacity and a set of fiduciary rules which will raise the ethical bar for school board members that will reduce direct and indirect self-dealing.

John Kamensky: The federal approach to collaborative governance has evolved over the past year since the Grand Challenge white paper was written, largely driven by the pandemic. The discretionary portion of the federal budget – the part that is appropriated each year by Congress – totals about $1.7 trillion. But the various pandemic legislative packages adopted over the course of the past year, such as the American Rescue Plan, total about $5 trillion on top of the regular discretionary appropriations. The Biden Administration has adopted a “whole of government” approach to managing the implementation of these programs, rather than trying to integrate them into the regular agency-and-program structure.

The Academy’s Election 2020 white paper on new approaches to public government advocated the federal government “play a role similar to an orchestra conductor, helping coordinate and harmonize an evidence-based national strategy.” And the Biden Administration seems to have embraced this role. It has created a White House American Rescue Plan Implementation Team, with designated leaders and sub-teams in each major agency. This team oversees the $5 trillion in pandemic aid and is orchestrating implementation strategies across agencies and programs. It also works with states and localities, especially in implementing the $350 billion in aid directed to them.

In addition to using a whole-of-government approach to implementing pandemic aid, the Biden Administration is targeting other priority policy areas where it is using integrated, whole-of-government strategies that reach across agency and program boundaries. For example, its Justice40 Initiative – to invest at least 40 percent of certain programs in 20 different agencies in disadvantaged communities in order to advance environmental justice – is being overseen by a separate White House team.

These are new, but temporary, governance frameworks that dwarf the “regular” government. Are there lessons to be learned that can embed these whole-of-government, collaborative governance approaches into federal, state, and local operations once the pandemic has receded?

Related Podcasts

Grand Challenge: Develop New Approaches to Public Governance and Engagement
NAPA podcast-logo
The Concept of Digital Government with Theresa Pardo

Fellow: Theresa Pardo

Season: 1 Episode:64 | July 26, 2021

Grand Challenge: Develop New Approaches to Public Governance and Engagement
NAPA podcast-logo
Reshaping the Role of Public Governance in the Age of Agility with David Warm

Fellow: David Warm

Season: 1 Episode:63 | July 19, 2021

Grand Challenge: Develop New Approaches to Public Governance and Engagement
NAPA podcast-logo
Bringing Others to the Table through Public Engagement with Tina Nabatchi

Fellow: Tina Nabatchi

Season: 1 Episode:62 | July 12, 2021

Grand Challenge: Develop New Approaches to Public Governance and Engagement
NAPA podcast-logo
The Emergence of New Models of Public Governance with John Kamensky

Fellow: John Kamensky

Season: 1 Episode:61 | July 05, 2021

Grand Challenge: Develop New Approaches to Public Governance and Engagement
NAPA podcast-logo
Emerging Practices in Public Governance with Dr. Kirk Emerson

Fellow: Kirk Emerson

Season: 1 Episode:12 | July 27, 2020

Grand Challenge: Develop New Approaches to Public Governance and Engagement
NAPA podcast-logo
Intergovernmental Aspects of Re-opening After COVID-19 with Beth Kellar

Fellow: Elizabeth Kellar

Season: 1 Episode:7 | June 29, 2020

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