Booz Allen Hamilton

Interagency Collaboration Necessary In Budget Environment, Shows Survey

December 06, 2011

Smart Power Approach Requires Improved Interagency Communication, Clear Collaboration Policies

McLean, Va. – Sixty-five percent of federal managers say budget pressures will increase the importance of interagency collaboration – and yet these managers are skeptical whether collaboration will help achieve overall mission success – according to a survey revisiting the concept of "smart power" released this week by the Government Business Council: Industry Insights and Booz Allen Hamilton.

Smart power, the integrated application of defense, diplomacy and development to today's most challenging national security issues, was first examined by GBC and Booz Allen in Oct. 2010. The 2010 survey tested the behavior and attitudes of managers at the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development. Now, in 2011, as budget pressures dictate agencies’ planning, and as smart power advocates, such as Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and possibly, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, depart, the survey reexamines attitudes at DoD, the State Department and USAID, as well as those at other agencies, and nonprofit organizations.

Organizational challenges, such as interagency politics, and a lack of communication, remain the central barriers to enabling smart power. In 2011, more than half of federal managers stated that interagency politics, lack of clear interagency policy, and ineffective lines of communication posed the greatest threats to collaboration. The survey’s other key findings include:

  • The budget environment will make interagency collaboration more important. And yet, sixty-two percent of managers believe that interagency collaboration will help overall mission success, down from 83 percent in 2010.
  • Respondents cited humanitarian assistance/disaster relief; stabilization and reconstruction; and conflict prevention as target areas for smart power.
  • Federal agencies have shared mission priorities; federal managers identified aligning goals, particularly between the Departments of Defense and State. Further, managers believe agencies beyond the Departments of Defense and State and USAID have the potential to contribute more to U.S. government efforts to address geopolitical challenges.

“When we compare these results with the 2010 survey findings, we see that challenges to operationalizing smart power persist,” said Roger Cressey, senior vice president for Booz Allen. “In a resource-constrained environment, agencies see the value of collaboration, and yet, these same pressures may create a fear that inviting mission partners to participate could result in loss of resources and responsibilities. It’s all the more important to design simpler policies on interagency coordination, and to provide clear directives on how to pull in partners.”

Erin Dian Dumbacher, associate director for research at the Government Business Council noted, “this year’s survey shows that managers’ thinking on ‘smart power’ has not evolved significantly since 2010. Agencies still see the value of collaboration – some even agree it has improved since 2008 – but managers pointed again to political and cultural barriers. The ‘bureaucracy’ survey participants describe could stand in the way of potential cost-savings.”
To download the full report, visit this site:

About The Government Business Council: Industry Insights (GBC)

GBC Industry Insights, a division of the Government Business Council and Government Executive Media Group, is dedicated to advancing the business of government through analysis and insight. GBC Industry Insights partners with industry to share best practices with top government decision-makers, understanding the deep value inherent in industry’s experience engaging and supporting federal agencies. GBC’s full research library can be found at

About Booz Allen Hamilton

Booz Allen Hamilton is a leading provider of management and technology consulting services to the U.S. government in defense, intelligence, and civil markets, and to major corporations, institutions, and not-for-profit organizations. Booz Allen is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, employs more than 25,000 people, and had revenue of $5.59 billion for the 12 months ended March 31, 2011.

CONTACT: Media Relations – Carrie Lake 703-377-7785