Sunday, November 15, 2009

Business & Government

Yesterday I posted on the value business chambers bring to public policy issues, and this article from Governing looks at the value of collaboration between government and business, (including park conservancies) especially relevant to our call for an American River Parkway Conservancy to mange the Parkway.

An excerpt.

“The future success of American public management hinges on the relative tempos of two conflicting trends. One involves collaboration between business and government; the other involves competition.

“By "collaboration" I mean something looser than fee-for-service contracting and tighter than voluntary charity. It refers to private institutions signing up to work with government to advance agreed-upon public missions on terms of shared discretion — that is, neither the public nor the private party monopolizes control. No tailored statistical series tracks public-private collaboration, so it would be silly to make precise claims about its current scale or rate of growth. But there is a lot of indirect and anecdotal evidence to suggest that collaboration is surging in absolute terms, and relative, both to direct governmental action and to other forms of joint work with private actors.

“Multiple forces propel this growth. One is incremental improvements to various enablers of collaboration — from information and communications technology to sophisticated contracts — over the past several decades. Another is a gradual shift toward complex tasks that invite or demand private involvement. Examples abound, including the charter-school movement, park conservancies, the post-9/11 port-security regime, occupational training and myriad aspects of the American health care system. The record presents many success stories and no shortage of failures. Some regrettable examples of collaboration are due to the misguided application of the collaborative approach, some to ham-handed implementation and some to a combination of misguidance and malfeasance. But the picture is improving. We are getting better at structuring and managing cross-sectoral collaborations.

“And none too soon, because a more traditional model for collective action — building public agencies and staffing them with public workers under the direction of governmental managers — is becoming ever more fragile, due in large part to competition between business and government.”