Featured Article: Interagency Leadership
by Duane M. Blackburn
After they have proven themselves within their own organizations and find themselves working on a priority topic, federal employees will likely lead an interagency team. Unfortunately, the behaviors and mindset that have made them and their team members successful within their agency are often quite different from what is required for success within an interagency setting. This article provides insights on leading interagency activities that will help lessen the learning curve for these individuals.
The federal government is a collection of stovepipes, formally created to focus attention on a group of activities that must be coordinated to meet a specific need. Each stovepipe has its own formal rules and informal processes that were developed to ensure that the stovepipe operates with little deviation and delivers consistent results. The stovepipe’s stakeholders (e.g., parent agencies and departments, the White House, Congress, and impacted constituencies) value this consistency and often resist alternative approaches or activities that upset the status quo.
The need for interagency coordination occurs because these stovepipes are quite often stovepipes in practice but not in reality. Many operational issues are not constrained within the sole control of a single agency, and most science and technology initiatives benefit from leveraging multiple perspectives…
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Duane M. Blackburn is a science and technology policy analyst with the MITRE Corporation. He served as the assistant director for Identity Management and Homeland Security in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from 2004-2011, where he led multiple subcommittees within the National Science and Technology Council and participated in numerous entities within the Homeland and National Security Councils.