NAPA urges collaboration leadership

Although President Barack Obama has said his administration will be more open, connected and innovative, agencies would have to change how they operate to realize that commitment, a report from the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) has said. Agencies have taken the first steps by consolidating their computer systems and making their administrative processes more efficient.

The administration should adopt three technology and innovation priorities. Then it should implement the policies and infrastructure to support them and to encourage agencies to become more transparent, agile and responsive, the report released Feb. 4 states. These priorities are to:

  • Create an open information technology environment.
  • Treat data as a national asset.
  • Foster a culture of collaboration.

Agencies need to change their traditional approach of owning and maintaining their own IT systems. Instead, they should acquire IT as a service. Agencies should turn their massive amounts of raw data into usable information that can be shared with others and used to support decisions. They also should change laws and policies that keep employees from using collaborative and social media tools, the report states.

Meanwhile, some pockets of agency employees use collaborative and social media tools and communication approaches, according to the report, which comes from NAPA’s Collaboration Project Advisory Panel.

“Bold program and project staffers should continue to move out and experiment and embrace these tools as new ways of doing the business of government,” the report states.

Among the report’s authors are Frank DiGiammarino, NAPA vice president of strategic initiatives, and Lena Trudeau, NAPA’s program area director of strategic initiatives.

Leadership by example is critical to implementing a culture of collaboration, the report states. Obama has used technology to communicate and seek out diverse viewpoints on a broad scale. Agencies should start to use collaboration to improve the efficiency and quality of services they deliver. They also should integrate chief information officers into the missions of the agencies so they can provide strategic and technical support to agency heads and feel empowered to seek innovation.

A federal chief technology officer, which Obama has said he would appoint, would support technology leadership and best practices across government and make sure that agencies have the appropriate infrastructure and policies in place, the report notes.

The report, "Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration," is here.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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