New skills demanded in networked government

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Government managers will need new skills and the ability to collaborate in order to move ahead in an age of networked governance, a senior GSA executive warned on Monday.

As government agencies make the transition to shared, cross-government business services, agency managers need to work increasingly with a variety of government and private-sector partners.

Consequently, “a fundamental skill of today’s leaders is the ability to collaborate,” said John Sindelar, acting associate administrator of GSA's Office of Governmentwide Policy. “It is also necessary to meet the challenges of governance in the 21st century.”

“When we look for LOB [Lines of Business] managers, we rule out people because of [a record of] collaboration problems,” he said in an address during the annual Executive Leadership Conference, hosted by the American Council for Technology and the Industry Advisory Council.

Sindelar cited the increasing role technology plays in linking federal, state, local and private-sector initiatives as one of the factors increasing the need for collaboration. “Technology creates a greater demand for collaboration. At the same time, technology facilitates real-time collaboration not previously possible. Technology and the Internet have made it possible,” he said.

Another factor is the continued effort to consolidate common business services across government.

“The complexities are unmatched,” he said. These changes will demand new management skills, new acquisition skills and new collaboration skills, he said.

“We are at a point of time that reminds me of when David met Goliath. The LOBs are meeting 50 years of customization,” he said.

Going forward, Sindelar said, would require government and government managers to focus on four principles.

“We need to discern what we want to accomplish first — it shouldn’t be a government-only solution,” he said. “We need to make responsibility a partner of core competency — we don’t put much time in valuing [collaboration] skills.

“We need more knowledge sharing,” he said. And government needs “to fix civil service laws to improve flexibility.”

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