Key Issues > Collaboration Across Governments, Nonprofits, and the Private Sector
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Collaboration Across Governments, Nonprofits, and the Private Sector

Achieving important national outcomes, such as food safety, local economic development, environmental restoration, and homeland security, requires coordinated and collaborative efforts of a number of programs spread across the federal government, other levels of government, and private and nonprofit sectors. Agencies face a range of challenges and barriers when they attempt to work collaboratively.

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Collaboration can be broadly defined as any joint activity that is intended to produce more public value than could be produced when the organizations act alone. The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA) establishes a new framework aimed at taking a more crosscutting and integrated approach to focusing on results and improving government performance. For more information see Managing for Results in Government.

Agencies can enhance and sustain their collaborative efforts by engaging in key practices, such as defining and articulating a common outcome and agreeing on roles and responsibilities (GAO-06-15). Running throughout these practices are a number of factors such as leadership, trust, and organizational culture that are necessary elements for a collaborative working relationship.

Federal agencies use a variety of mechanisms to implement interagency collaborative efforts, such as establishing interagency groups, for example, in the area of food safety (GAO-15-180). Frequently, agencies use more than one mechanism to address an issue, but they all benefit from certain key features, such as outcomes and accountability. These features raise issues to consider such as: “Have short-term and long-term outcomes been clearly defined?” and  “Is there a way to track and monitor their progress?” (GAO-12-1022). Interagency groups have used a range of implementation approaches to successfully address these  issues. (GAO-14-220).

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  • portrait of J. Christopher Mihm
    • J. Christopher Mihm
    • Managing Director, Strategic Issues
    • mihmj@gao.gov
    • (202) 512-6806