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Five Missteps in Interagency Reform: And What to Do About Them

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Journal Article

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The Heritage Foundation Washington United States

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Carved into the base of a statue at the National Archives are some of the most important words in Washington, DC What is past is prologue. This phrase succinctly states the intent behind the laws requiring that the U.S. Government record and interpret its history. Such laws are in place not only to illuminate the past but also to provide insights and observations to inform future decision making. No government activity demands more reflection than overcoming the obstacles to conducting effective interagency operations. In the past decade, the United States has done more than enough wrong to learn some lessons on how to do things right. It is generally recognized today that whole-of-government or interagency operations where more than one agency or authority combines efforts to address difficult and complex challenges are essential to successful governance. The attacks of 911, the troubles in Iraq and Afghanistan, the global effort to combat transnational terrorism, the response to Hurricane Katrina, the Gulf oil spill, the task of responding to climate changeafter each new challenge emerges, the chorus gets a little louder. It would be unfair to say that Washington has done nothing to answer the cries for reform. But it is fair to say that the government has gotten more wrong than right when it comes to instituting feasible, suitable, and acceptable change. Five of the most prominent missteps and some ideas about how to fix them make this point pretty well.

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  • Government and Political Science

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