Category Archives: Intergovernmental Relations

Informal Accountability in Multisector Service Delivery Collaborations

Source: Barbara Romzek, Kelly LeRoux, Jocelyn Johnston, Robin J. Kempf and Jaclyn Schede Piatak,Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Vol. 24 no. 4, October 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Multiagency collaboration is widely used in contemporary service delivery systems. This article explores the interpersonal interactions within collaborative systems, among subsystems, and among organizations. Our focus is on illuminating the informal mechanisms that facilitate collaboration, joint production, coordination and integration of service delivery, and sustained effort. Such interactions generate unofficial expectations, discretionary behaviors, and provider “communities” that can ameliorate or exacerbate problems of interorganizational networks where collaboration is appropriate or desirable. We use a multiple case–study approach to explore the dynamics of informal accountability among individuals working within county-based children’s service systems in three states. We find informal interpersonal dynamics nested in combinations of vertical and horizontal ties with mixed administrative authority arrangements derived from both formal and informal accountability relationships. These data reveal shared norms, facilitative behaviors, informal rewards and sanctions, and challenges that create the dynamics of informal accountability. Informal accountability is shaped by the prevalence of relationship building and champion behavior as facilitative behaviors, discernible tension between the operation of formal and informal accountability systems, a gap between the rhetoric of collaboration and the reality of collaborative service provision, differences in informal accountability dynamics across hierarchical levels within service delivery systems, and the critical roles of street-level caseworkers in informal accountability.

Contemplating Collaboration

Source: David Swindell and Cheryl Hilvert, Public Management, Vol. 96 no. 7, August 2014

To address today’s challenges of decreased budgets and increased workloads, both local government managers and elected officials are embracing the concept of collaboration in new and innovative ways. Collaboration has proven to be an effective tool for jurisdictions to join with others—including other local governments, private sector organizations, and nonprofits—to achieve goals and deliver services that they may not have been able to accomplish on their own.

Collaboration as a Management and Leadership Strategy for Local Governments – Fad or Future?

Source: Rosemary O’Leary, Catherine Gerard, Government Finance Review, Vol. 30 no. 4, August 2014
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A survey of local government managers found that 86 percent of respondents said that collaboration was one of their management and leadership strategies, and most were cautiously optimistic about its possibilities. The survey of 1,400 local government administrators across the United States asked them to share their thoughts about their collaboration experiences. This article highlights the most significant findings — that local government officials perceive the advantages of collaboration to include economic benefits, better public services, relationship building, better ideas, and greater buy-in, or employee engagement.

Models for Change: Systems Reform in Juvenile Justice

Source: Justice Policy Institute, 2014

Launched in 2004, Models for Change is a multi-state initiative working to guide and accelerate advances to make juvenile justice systems more fair, effective, rational and developmentally appropriate. Capitalizing on a unique historic opportunity to regenerate juvenile justice in America, the initiative promotes a broader movement of reform based in research and evidence of what works to improve outcomes for kids and communities, while holding young people accountable for their behavior.
Models for Change supports a network of government and court officials, legal advocates, educators, community leaders, and families working together to ensure that kids who make mistakes are held accountable and treated fairly throughout the juvenile justice process.Through, the initiative provides research-based tools and techniques to make juvenile justice more fair, effective, rational and developmentally appropriate.

Reform areas:
Targeted juvenile justice leverage points where success triggers broader reforms. Work in the reform areas has been the focus of the initiative’s original core states, action networks and resource centers.

Community-based alternatives
Dual status youth
Evidence-based practices
Juvenile indigent defense
Mental health
Status offense reform
Racial and ethnic fairness/Disproportionate minority contact

Why Juvenile Justice Matters To County Human Services Agencies
Source: National Association of Counties (NACo), July 2014

Contemplating Collaboration

Source: David Swindell and Cheryl Hilvert, PM Magazine, Vol. 96 no. 7, August 2014

To address today’s challenges of decreased budgets and increased workloads, both local government managers and elected officials are embracing the concept of collaboration in new and innovative ways. Collaboration has proven to be an effective tool for jurisdictions to join with others—including other local governments, private sector organizations, and nonprofits—to achieve goals and deliver services that they may not have been able to accomplish on their own.

While there has been a general push by residents, elected officials, consultants, and academics toward the use of collaboration as a key solution to governments’ problems, these proponents sometimes fail to recognize that collaborations do not always achieve the goals for which they were established.
While collaboration is appropriately viewed as an option for local governments, the real issue surrounding collaboration is that often the costs and benefits associated with it are not fully realized, nor are strategies effectively evaluated that will motivate the collaborative effort.
The concepts to do so can be complex and confusing, and there have been few tools that give managers the ability to fully “talk through” a collaboration concept and ask such fundamental questions as: Should we engage in a collaboration? If so, what form of collaboration will have the highest likelihood of success?

Check Out the New Library – A vital, multiservice hub for all generations

Source: Craig Gerhart and Kira Hasbargen, Public Management (PM), Vol. 96 no. 4, May 2014

….Our preconceived notions of what libraries “are” have created barriers to engaging them in strategic problem solving and community building. Now is the time to step back into your library to recognize and strategically plan how libraries can help with community issues.

A manager’s openness to engage the library demonstrates a willingness to take a holistic approach to community problem solving and the enhancement of his or her organizational toolkit. ICMA’s work with public libraries began more than five years ago4 with a series of community-specific projects intended to demonstrate that a strong partnership between the local government manager’s office and the library staff is a productive strategy.

The goal of these efforts is to provide resources that help strengthen the manager-library partnership and to develop strategic and innovative ways to improve the lives of residents. While the library director and local government manager may be separately offering dynamic, relevant, and innovative services, the sky’s the limit when the two partner together (see sidebar, “Working Together” for tips on building effective partnerships). Here are two case studies that provide a closer look at what is possible…..

The “Grand Experiment”: An early review of energy-related Recovery Act efforts

Source: Sanya Carley, Martin Hyman, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), Working Paper Series, 338 December 2013

From the abstract:
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act injected approximately $840 billion into the U.S. economy for job creation, technological advancement, and infrastructure development. This grand experiment of stimulus support targeted education, health care, unemployment assistance, the environment, and energy programs, among other areas. This study examines energy-related Recovery Act program implementation between 2009 and 2013; areas of inquiry include how funds were allocated and disbursed, which programs were targeted, and the impacts of the Recovery Act. Results indicate that the Recovery Act provided many immediate benefits to the economy, environment, and the energy sector, but also suggest that implementation was hindered by the coordination required between federal, state, and local agencies; reporting and transparency requirements; pre-existing layoffs and furloughs; inexperience with new programs; and inconsistencies with pre-existing laws and regulations. Although some economic and environmental impacts have already been assessed, not all will be known for some time due to the time horizon of the energy-related funding. Further study will be required to quantify the economic and environmental benefits of the renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.

Interstate Compacts—Background, History and Modern Use

Source: Council of State Governments, CSG Policy Webinar Series, March 6, 2014

While the use of interstate compacts dates back to the founding of the nation, this tool has become increasingly popular for state policymakers seeking ways to address interstate policy challenges short of federal intervention. This webinar, the first in a series, focused on the background, history and modern use of interstate compacts, with insights shared by Rick Masters, legal adviser to three national interstate compact commissions affiliated with CSG.


The Costs of Cooperation: What the Research Tells Us about Managing the Risks of Service Collaborations in the U.S.

Source: Jered B. Carr and Christopher V. Hawkins, State and Local Government Review, Vol. 45 no. 4, December 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Service collaborations often must confront risks arising from problems of coordination, division, and defection. U.S. scholars have focused on understanding the efficacy of three general strategies to reducing these risks. First, the use of adaptive and restrictive contracts to reduce the risks from service characteristics has received a lot of attention. Second, scholars have studied how the use of different institutional arrangements reduces the risks of collaborative service provision. Third, attention has been devoted to understanding how the social networks of administrators and elected officials mitigate risk in sharing services. This article concludes with suggestions for future research on this topic.

Public Entrepreneurship and Interlocal Cooperation in County Government

Source: Daryl J. Delabbio and Eric S. Zeemering, State and Local Government Review, Vol. 45 no. 4, December 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The use of interlocal agreements for the delivery of public services has expanded in recent years. Prior studies show that county governments are well positioned to exercise leadership in the development of interlocal cooperation. Theories of public entrepreneurship and institutional collective action can help us better understand when county government leaders pursue new interlocal agreements or shared service delivery projects. Using a survey of county leaders in five states, this research outlines several hypotheses linking institutional context to county leaders’ roles in the expansion of interlocal cooperation. The survey identifies distinct patterns of support for preparing for interlocal cooperation inside the county and reaching out to other local governments. The findings highlight the need for new research about counties’ internal preparation for interlocal cooperation as well as managers’ tolerance for entrepreneurship and risk.