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Session Summary: The Recovery Act - Network Governance Under Pressure

November 10, 2012 09:44 AM

The roundtable The Recovery Act: Network Governance Under Pressure, held at APPAM's 2012 Fall Research Conference, focused on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and brought together several policy analysts to report on lessons learned. The collaborative research project was moderated by Paul Posner, George Mason University, and discussed by Richard F. Callahan, University of San Francisco; H. Brinton Milward, University of Arizona, and Sandra O. Archibald and Kay A. Sterner, University of Washington.

The lessons that were shared focused on two key areas: lessons learned designing networks, and network entrepreneurship. The first lessons in designing networks came from examples that arose from 11 case studies. Three of the lessons described included:

  • Deadlines increased performance. Professionals needed to act quickly to meet the requirements set by the new legislation.
  • Leveraging of Internet and database technology. This led to the use of off the shelf products like Microsoft Sharepoint which reduced the costs associated with developing large scale information systems.
  • The identification and mitigation of risk. This translated into blame avoidance for blunders associated with projects but also meant reduced opportunity for politicians to claim credit for victories.

The second set of lessons focused on the designing of networks for ARRA programs that followed a few practices.

  • Developing new partnerships through outreach. An example that was cited was the Department of Education's outreach to governor's offices in addition to the usual outreach that focused on state offices of education.
  • Information sharing. Such networks were developed with the extension of intergovernmental networks.
  • Collaborative networks. These were developed across programs, sometimes within the same agency, with the purpose of shariing much needed information and expertise.

In conclusion, the panel provided attendees with a better understanding of how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides a unique opportunity to study networked governance under pressure.

Contributed by Sophia Guevara, Wayne State University


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