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Fed Corner: NAPA’s Grand Challenges in Public Administration Initiative
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By Amy Johnson (LDS 406)

Information contained in this article is not original and is from numerous sources.  A version of this article can be found at the Grand Challenges in Public Administration website https://www.napawash.org/grand-challenges-in-public-administration.

The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) launched its new Grand Challenges in Public Administration initiative, a yearlong effort to identify the top challenges facing government over the next decade and to facilitate efforts by the public administration community to find new solutions. It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to develop and drive an agenda for our government over the next decade.

NAPA helps government leaders solve their most critical management challenges. Since 1967, NAPA’s congressionally chartered, nonpartisan, nonprofit academy has given expert advice to government leaders in building and managing more effective, efficient, accountable, and transparent organizations. NAPA’s national network of more than 850 fellows includes former cabinet officers, members of Congress, governors, mayors, and state legislators, as well as prominent scholars, business executives, and public administrators. 

Input and ideas for the Grand Challenges were accepted through April 30, 2019. Next, the Grand Challenges Steering Committee, comprising distinguished representatives from the public administration, scientific, and media communities, will conduct a systematic analysis of the public’s ideas and announce a final set of Grand Challenges at the academy’s annual meeting in November 2019.

Today’s government too often finds itself in reactive mode, struggling to adapt to the rapidly evolving environment of the 21st century. The Grand Challenges tackle this issue by asking the following questions:

  • Over the next decade, what is a Grand Challenge that government (Federal, state, and/or local) must address in order for American society to reach its full potential?
  • Over the next decade, what is the most important thing that government can do to improve its management and operations so that it can address the most critical challenges facing the United States?

The announcement of the top Grand Challenges is designed to begin a long-term process that jump-starts specific and integrated action across the public administration community. The defined challenges are likely to have a significant impact over the next decade, initiating experimentation, testing, and evaluation to identify and pilot real solutions; they may result in new collaborative efforts between universities, government, good-government groups, and other private and nonprofit partners. In addition, new governance structures and processes grounded in multidisciplinary, multisector alliances could be developed to deliver flexible, responsive, technologically adept, and accountable programs. Education and training programs could be updated to help aspiring administrators build entrepreneurial skills that can be applied within existing and emerging bureaucratic structures. Social safety-net programs could be modernized to address the reality of economic dislocation in the 21st century, and universities could lead new areas of research and development to help understand what works and to determine how to build managerial capacity.

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