Strategic Convenings: The Secret Sauce in Collaborations across Departments and Levels of Government

Through various local, state, and Federal agencies, government bodies in the United States offer services for the public. However, few of the seemingly intractable challenges facing families and communities across the country can be solved by a single agency or level of government. Nor can such challenges be solved by government alone. Success requires multiple agencies representing all levels of government working together in a collective, strategic effort that includes nonprofit and private-sector partners as well. In 1981, President Reagan established the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency to “ensure coordinated relationships between Federal, state, and local government agencies.” Over the last nearly 40 years, policymakers have attempted a range of reforms seeking to better align efforts across agency lines, across levels of government, and across sectors to make them more efficient and effective. Such efforts are sometimes referred to as using a “community-centered approach” since they seek to reorganize Federal government to help places (neighborhoods, communities, cities, counties, etc.) in a comprehensive, coherent fashion, rather than forcing places to reorganize their efforts to fit within specific, fragmented Federal programs.