IAP 3 (Jan 2011) Is a Sense of Community Vital to Interagency Coordination?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

by William J. Davis, Jr., Ph.D.

What causes a large group to operate in an efficient, effective, innovative manner? Is it the way it is organized, its executive structure, its mechanisms for gathering and disseminating information, its internal communications, its analytic capacity, its contributions from staff, its morale, or its sense of community? Research for this paper largely examined the role of the last factor, a sense of community in U.S. interagency relations. The results of that research, as discussed toward the end of the paper, were surprising.

Since September 11, 2001, there has been significant interest within Congress and the Executive branch to make the disparate agencies of federal government—both civilian and military— operate more efficiently and in a more coordinated manner as they address the complex problems that face the nation. Many thinkers have suggested that interagency coordination might follow the path previously trod by the Department of Defense when it began to operate according to the mandate of the Goldwater-Nichols Act.

This paper serves two purposes. First it attempts to measure the “Sense of Community” (SOC) that military officers have regarding the three groups with which they work:

  • Members of their own service.
  • Members of other military services.
  • Members of other (non-military) agencies.

Second, the paper attempts to determine the relationship between military officers’ SOC and their perception of the efficacy and importance of the different communities in addressing complex problems. In addition, research for this paper also attempted to determine if certain experiences affected the officers’ perceptions.

The SOC of the joint community is incorporated as a comparative variable. Comparing the SOC within a service (i.e. the Army) to the SOC felt toward the joint military community can provide a rough measure of the efficacy of the Goldwater-Nichols Act reform since 1985 in creating an SOC across the military community. That measure may then be used as an indicator of what to expect from similar sorts of reform of interagency relations, as is contemplated by the Project for National Security Reform.

Download the full text of IAP No. 3, January 2011. (Right click to save.)

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