Toward Common Ends: The Foundation Sector and the Federal Government
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Toward Common Ends: The Foundation Sector and the Federal Government

January 20, 2011

Almost daily, we hear stories of government mismanagement, of agencies failing to provide timely disaster relief, adequate care for wounded veterans, or economic opportunity for the disfranchised and marginalized. The truth is that many government programs escape notice because they work well—they succeed at making people’s lives better. Yet, because public programs deliver essential services, like educating our children, revitalizing our cities and protecting our environment, we are justified in aiming high. As citizens and taxpayers, we expect government to operate efficiently, effectively and equitably across the board.

The question is: what is our proper role in an effective government—as citizens, as taxpayers, as parents, as beneficiaries, and in all the other ways in which we depend on government and government depends on us? Can and should individuals, businesses and organizations do more to help government realize its full potential, and HOW? Can we move beyond complaining about bureaucratic red tape and mismanagement to suggesting and even delivering real solutions for reform?

In October 2009, a group of foundation and government leaders convened to examine such questions and to discuss how public-private partnerships could help government operate better. The forum, entitled Achieving Public Good: Opportunities for Collaboration between Government and Philanthropy, was organized by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, and the Partnership for Public Service.

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