Making an impact through cross-sector collaboration
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Making an impact through cross-sector collaboration

August 9, 2022 | Updated on August 11, 2022
Cristina Bolanos

The Partnership for Public Service recently hosted a West Coast virtual event highlighting lessons learned and keys to successful results regarding cross-sector collaboration.

Code for America CEO Amanda Renteria and Joey Mercer, the principal investigator for NASA’s Scalable Traffic Management for Emergency Response Operations, each explained how they worked with government entities and others to benefit the public.

Improved service delivery

Recently, the White House, the Department of Treasury and Code for America collaborated to create a simplified tax sign-up tool to help non-filers claim their Child Tax Credit and other tax benefits.

Code for America, a nonprofit technology organization that focuses on helping governments deliver equitable, accessible tools and services, provided its expertise to launch a user-friendly digital portal on desktops and mobile devices.

The organization worked with trusted community-based organizations to reach the targeted population as well as provide training materials and resources so these organizations could guide users in both English and Spanish through the tax benefit application process. As a result, users had a much more positive and productive experience.

Without a doubt, the federal government benefited from having Code for America’s expertise in developing and rolling out this online portal.

Innovative solutions through close collaboration

Collaboration is the key to unlocking innovation in the workplace.

Joey Mercer, the principal investigator for NASA’s Scalable Traffic Management for Emergency Response Operations, shared his experience working closely with partners to apply drone technology to emergency response efforts. Through a three-step process, he established trust as he worked with external partners involved in fighting wildfires in California, including the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service.

Being present during partner’s work

To better understand how drone technology could be applied to a wildfire response, Mercer’s team visited wildfire sites to better understand  what type of capabilities and technologies needed to be developed.       

Trusting partner’s feedback as the most important source of information

Because Mercer knew that feedback from his partners was essential, he did not hesitate in accepting input and putting it into practice. Mercer’s partners knew that he was committed to the collaboration.

Relying on each other to deliver progress

By being willing to learn from one another during the collaboration process, the teams delivered tangible results that positively impacted their communities.

Using this process facilitated an effective conversation that brought the unique knowledge and skills of the different parties to the table. As a result, Mercer and his team produced tangible, innovative results by understanding how to best adapt the drone technology to wildfire response needs.

Expanding access to public benefits and developing innovative solutions for wildfire response are just two of the many possible ways that cross-collaboration can be used to better serve the public. Agencies across the federal government should consider how they can work collaboratively with nonprofits, states and other federal entities to deliver more effective services.

To learn more about impactful results from cross-sector collaboration, read our blog post with highlights from an earlier West Coast event, “3 takeaways from the team who helped Californians access affordable internet.

Cristina Bolanos is an intern supporting the Partnership’s work on the West Coast. 

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