Panel Recommendations on improving public and private relationships:
There have been numerous reports from GAO and other organizations that all levels of Governments, even assuming normal economic growth, will experience fiscal shortfalls stretching far into the future. There are also numerous reports concluding that unless we undertake major investment programs in our collective goods issues of education, infrastructure, energy and health that we will not be able to accelerate growth and alter this future. Our panel is developing strategies and recommendations, both short and long term, on putting the organizations-public, private and non-profit together differently, with new “rules of the game,” so that synergy, efficiencies, partnerships and innovation will enable us to forge approaches that can help address these dilemmas. In our panel’s deliberations we have observed that this approach is not new and that there have been abundant examples of such initiatives in our history. The panel noted that we should learn the good and bad lessons from this rich history.
Short term: The recent IBM Center for the Business of Government report on the lessons from the Recovery had a number of recommendations that could alter the way that Government operates that could substantially improve the way governments at all levels interact with other sectors. By setting outcome goals, focusing on team implementation approaches, assigning and assessing risks, improving contracting and procurement, and horizontal team building all highlighted what could be done to significantly improve the effectiveness of how we work across sectors. The lessons of hurricane Katrina, and the NAPA panel on the improvements in the budgeting and implementation process of the Corp’s of Engineers, along with the lessons of the recent Gulf oil spill all show the power of partnerships in problem solving. Recommendations are being developed from these lessons that could be implemented by the next administration.
Long term: The panel is looking at experiments in new governance structures in the country, which if expanded could alter the nature of the relationship among the sectors. The panel defined the operating principles upon which a new relationship among the sectors could be built: starting point is outcomes and results; align funding with planning up front; look at all costs over time; use business plans with identified funding streams that relies on beneficial use funding streams linked to mission and results; look at alternative systems; move from risk avoidance to risk identification, risk mitigation, and risk management. The panel also concluded that many of the recent experiments had generated important learning lessons particularly relating to transparency and accountability. The Presidio Trust Act established by Congress to reduce the largest item in the Park Service Budget, and the subsequent NAPA panel on the Trust, provides a good example of a “public benefit corporation” – a non-profit organization that embodies the panel’s operating principles and addresses the concerns identified. Given these principles and examples, the panel is developing recommendations that would be helpful to the next administration in the development and operations of: infrastructure, security and safety for our ports of entry, park services, etc.
Conclusion: These short and long term recommendations would enable experimentation in doing things differently and putting ourselves and our organizations together differently so that the major asset in America, innovation in the way we organize ourselves to solve problems, can be used to deal with our difficult fiscal future and our need in the same time to make significant investments.
Click here to watch Tom Downs speak on Public-Private Partnerships