Report Analyzes Top Federal Agencies Leveraging Public-Private Partnerships
(Press release, Oct. 23, 2014) — As the United States economy stagnated, public-private partnerships flourished. In a new report released Oct. 20, the USC Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy examines 21 federal offices that have emerged to catalyze government partnerships with philanthropy and business.
While there is a long history of public-private partnerships within the federal government, only recently have formalized offices emerged to support them. The number of such federal offices increased from two in 2002 to 21 by 2014, signaling a growing interest in working across sectors, said report co-author James M. Ferris, director of the Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy.
"The value of government partnerships with business and philanthropy are increasingly clear: They can increase flexibility of government, leverage funds and knowledge to address issues of mutual concern, and enhance the credibility of public programs through their networks. Yet there are risks," said Ferris, Emery Evans Olson Chair in Nonprofit Entrepreneurship and Public Policy in the USC Price School. "These offices help to bridge institutional differences by sharing knowledge and information, identifying areas of potential partnership and leveraging resources to support them."
The offices studied are catalyzing partnerships in a variety of policy areas including international aid, development and diplomacy, education, housing, civic engagement, national defense and emergency response. The partnerships range from simple information-sharing agreements to fully integrated partnerships that involve co-development and investment of programs and resources, said report co-author Nicholas P.O. Williams, the center's associate director.
"There is a new ethos of collaboration that is being championed by leaders with experience across the sectors," Williams said. "These partners are not trying to replace the core role of government, but trying to blend the strengths of the sectors."
Findings from the report were based on a survey and interviews with the office leaders. Nearly 70 government, philanthropic and business leaders provided additional input during a roundtable co-hosted by the center and the Council on Foundations in Washington, D.C., in early June.