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Government Performance Management: Leading Practices to Enhance Interagency Collaboration and Address Crosscutting Challenges

GAO-23-105520 Published: May 24, 2023. Publicly Released: May 24, 2023.
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Fast Facts

Many issues facing the nation—such as infectious diseases and climate change—require several federal agencies to collaborate and coordinate their efforts.

We have identified 8 leading practices that could help agencies collaborate more effectively, such as bridging organizational cultures—e.g., putting compatible policies in place or agreeing on common terminology.

For example, we've recommended defining "research and development" for the Department of Energy's 16 nuclear waste cleanup sites to help coordinate their efforts. Without a common definition, sites interpreted it differently and reported inconsistent information to the Department.

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What GAO Found

Interagency collaboration involves collaboration or coordination between two or more federal entities, or within components of the same entity. Collaboration can be broadly defined as any joint activity that is intended to produce more public value than could be produced when the entities act alone.

GAO's eight leading practices for interagency collaboration (below) include key considerations for collaborating entities to use when implementing them. This report also includes examples illustrating how the leading practices apply to a number of different collaboration challenges and successes in areas such as foreign aid, cybersecurity, and the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Implementing these practices is critical to achieving important interagency outcomes, such as addressing long-standing challenges facing the federal government.

GAO's Leading Interagency Collaboration Practices and Selected Key Considerations

GAO's Leading Interagency Collaboration Practices and Selected Key Considerations

Why GAO Did This Study

Many of the meaningful results that the federal government seeks to achieve require the coordinated efforts of more than one federal agency. GAO's leading practices for collaboration can help address crosscutting challenges, such as infectious diseases, climate change, cybersecurity, and other areas identified in GAO's High-Risk List and those involving fragmentation, overlap, and duplication.

This report is part of a series of reports related to a provision in the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010. This report validates and updates GAO's 2012 leading interagency collaboration practices. It also provides illustrative examples from prior GAO work.

To validate and update these practices, GAO reviewed relevant prior reports and conducted reviews of scholarly and peer-reviewed literature related to collaboration. GAO also gathered the views of senior agency officials experienced in leading interagency collaborative efforts, subject matter specialists, Office of Management and Budget staff, and General Services Administration officials responsible for federal performance and collaboration issues. To identify examples of collaboration challenges and success, we conducted a content analysis of prior GAO work from fiscal years 2018 through 2022.

For more information, contact Dawn G. Locke at (202) 512-6806 or

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Best practicesClimate changeCultureCyberspaceDiplomacyFederal agenciesGlobal food securityInfectious diseasesInformation sharingInteragency relationsMilitary communicationpandemicsPerformance managementPersonnel managementResearch and developmentSenior Executive Service diversityTelecommuting