Promotion of Collaboration Among U.S. Government Agencies

Several presenters emphasized that the greatest road safety benefits can be attained only through the collaborative efforts of several sectors, including the roads agency, as well as public health, law enforcement, education, and public administration. The most effective U.S. aid programs will draw on the capabilities of each of these sectors in the United States and will seek to build competence in each of the corresponding sectors and establish ties among them in those countries receiving assistance.

Because of the need for a multisectoral strategy, workshop participants from several U.S. government agencies suggested that the governmentwide response of the United States to the global road safety problem would be greatly strengthened by the creation of a permanent institutional structure with the participation of all the relevant agencies. This interagency body would be a mechanism for building working relationships, coordinating actions across agencies, and allowing agencies to benefit from each other’s efforts and knowledge; it would be a point of contact for nongovernmental organizations that might wish to partner with the government in road safety activities; and it could help ensure that U.S. government engagement in international activities is well organized and takes advantage of all available capabilities. The proposed interagency body would be in a position to formulate a governmentwide internal action plan and to propose national goals and timetables. Government participants discussed various forms the institutional structure of this body could take, including a joint program office and an official working group. These structures would differ in the formal funding commitments required from the participating agencies and in the seniority of agency staff who would be the principals of the group.

In addition to collaboration across cabinet departments, coordination within departments is necessary. The inventory of agency interests and activities produced for the workshop revealed that some departments have many offices concerned with aspects of global road safety. USDOT has created an internal coordinating and planning mechanism for work on this issue, including designation of a lead agency (NHTSA) and lead staff within the department. That arrangement may be a useful model for other departments.

Collaboration depends on transparency, participants noted. Agency staff who were interviewed sometimes hesitated to share information about their activities. A possible consequence of this attitude is that agencies may be unaware of common interests and opportunities for collaboration.

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