New Center for Agile Government Collaboration Coming Soon

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It will serve as a hub for a broad network of public, private and academic stakeholders.

The National Academy of Public Administration and the IBM Center for the Business of Government detailed Friday their plans to stand up an Agile Government Center to serve as a hub for a collaborative network of stakeholders working to build and boost agile principles and practices across the federal government. 

“The Agile Government Center will serve as a practical solution to the challenges of 21st century governance, problems we must address in an innovative and collaborative manner,” NAPA’s President and CEO Terry Gerton said in a statement.

Through the center, NAPA and IBM aim to unite officials from the government, non-profits, foundations, and academic institutions—as well as private sector partners—to create and share research around relevant use cases and ultimately lay a more robust foundation for agile policies and programs within the federal government.

This network will specifically seek to bolster the public’s trust in the government through its efforts, officials said. In their announcement, the entities also laid out their proposed agile government principles, which include:

  • Mission should be extremely clear, and the organizational unit/team should be laser-focused on achieving it.
  • Metrics for success should be widely agreed upon, evidence-based, and easily tracked.
  • Customer-driven behavior, including frequent collaboration with direct and indirect program beneficiaries, should be ingrained in the culture.
  • Speed should be encouraged and facilitated, including by using physical co-location of teams where possible.
  • Empowered, highly-skilled, cross-functional teams engaging in continual face-to-face communication should replace siloed bureaucratic systems.
  • Innovation, within the overall framework of existing rules and regulations, should be rewarded—and changes in rules and regulations should be proposed where necessary.
  • Persistence should be promoted through continuous experimentation, evaluation, and improvement in order to learn from both success and failure.
  • Evidence-based solutions should be the gold standard for creating program options.
  • Organizational leaders should eliminate roadblocks, aggregate and assume risk, and empower teams to make decisions.
  • Diversity of thought should be encouraged in crafting solutions to complex problems.

NAPA confirmed it will host the center locally in Washington, D.C. Initially, the AGC will be led by academy fellow and visiting fellow of the IBM Center, G. Edward DeSeve. 

“The United States has been beset with significant social, cultural, and technological changes for decades. The public sector has been perceived to be slow to adapt to these changes and is often in a reactive mode, not a proactive one. Against this backdrop, trust in the federal government has been declining sharply,” DeSeve said. “Success will require a new mindset in government and new organizational models, but agile government can be a new tide that lifts governmental ships around the world.”