Roundtable: The Recovery Act: Network Governance Under Pressure
(Public & Non-Profit Management)

Thursday, November 8, 2012: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
International E (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Organizers:  Paul Posner, George Mason University
Speakers:  Timothy Conlan, George Mason University, Sandra Archibald, University of Washington, Richard F. Callahan, University of San Francisco and Stanley Czerwinski, US Government Accountability Office
Moderators:  Paul Posner, George Mason University

The Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in February, 2009 in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The stakes have rarely been higher for an Administration or a Congress. The economy’s turnaround was in no small part predicated on the jump start that the Recovery Act provides. The paradox of ARRA is that achievement of these compelling national goals in no small part rests on the shoulders of the thousands of state and local governments, nonprofits and private firms who would be assigned the primary implementation roles for ARRA programs. The tensions that will unfold between national policy ambitions and noncentralized implementation regimes are as old as the Republic. Crises, whether economic or homeland security, traditionally have centralizing effects on our system. Rapid start up of programs and high national stakes together provide strong incentives for national officials to take strong measures to drive implementation and develop effective surveillance and oversight. The high stakes have spawned emergent forms of accountability and new governance models. A challenging array of accountability provisions and new information reporting systems have been created to track and account for ARRA funds. Yet, federal officials knew they had to rely on established networks of state and local officials to expeditiously spend and effectively manage the funds. The knowledge and expertise for many of the 300 programs that became the conduit for ARRA funds resided not in federal hands, but across the thousands of third parties that were responsible for health, education, energy and the numerous other programs involved. It is incumbent upon our community – public policy analysts as well as practitioners – to assess the implications of this major domestic policy initiative and the emerging governance models for national policy leadership, accountability and our federal system. Officials with the Obama Administration have already opined that they intend for many of the innovations in governance to become the new baseline for managing federal programs beyond ARRA for the future This roundtable will bring together policy analysts to report on new research focusing on the network of public managers used to deliver Recovery Act programs. The studies, supported by the Smith Richardson Foundation and the IBM Center on the Business of Government, focused on the implications of different kinds of networks and managerial strategies for achieving national Recovery policy goals. The roundtable will also include the leader of GAO’s work overseeing Recovery Act implementation in the states.

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