Here’s How I’d Like to Restructure the Federal Government

December 14, 2010

Over the last year or two, I’ve been working closely with the Brookings Institution in their efforts to reframe the federal-metropolitan relationship (which you probably know if you’ve spent any time whatsoever reading this blog). They believe that the federal government is “too top-down, siloed, and hard-to-use by increasingly creative, data-driven metro actors.” And so they promote things like metropolitan business plans and praise the creation of interagency taskforces (like TARIC: Taskforce for Advancing Regional Innovation Clusters) and funding programs (like the $130 million, seven agency E-RIC grant).

But in all my time with them, I’ve never heard them take that line of reasoning to its logical conclusion. That is, if it’s true that the federal government is too siloed, then no interagency working group is going to be able to overcome the fundamental turf wars and differing priorities that keep departments from truly collaborating.

It would require an actual restructuring of government. And here’s my plan to do that:

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Weekly B-MOW: Improving EDA’s Investment Approval Process

November 5, 2010

“Government should operate more like a business!”, they say. Maybe yes, maybe no. But one business-like area that it is always exciting to hear government talking about is customer service.  Whether you’re at the Department of Motor Vehicles (trying to get a driver’s license) or the Small Business Administration (trying to get a low-interest loan), you want a quick, clear response from a friendly, professional staff person. For those of us in the economic development world, the thing we want from the government is often grants, and so it’s pretty cool when a federal agency revises their funding process to be more responsive and faster. Which is why this week’s Best Meeting of the Week is “The Improving EDA’s Investment Approval Process Webinar.” Read the rest of this entry »