Concerns about terrorism have only increased those tensions, making even government-to-government information sharing difficult. Local communities have long contended that they should have access to threat-related information that can support their risk-management and emergency-management decision making, but collaboration between government offices on such issues has proved problematic. Federal officials have been reluctant to share threat information with local first responders and with elected and appointed officials. Further concerns are raised when law-enforcement agencies do gain access to threat information but local government leaders do not. For example, in 2005, the mayor of Portland, Oregon, ended the city’s participation in the multiagency Joint Terrorism Task Force because he was denied access to information that had been provided to Portland’s own law-enforcement officials. Such cases highlight the challenge of establishing a balance between the need to keep sensitive information out of the hands of terrorists and the need to support those responsible for protecting the public in the event of a terrorist attack (for more discussion, see Flynn and Prieto, 2006; GAO, 2005, 2008).
Several participants of the committee’s information-gathering workshop indicated that a private sector actor may hesitate to participate in private-public sector collaboration if it perceives that data or responsibilities are not shared equitably at the community level (NRC, 2010). The perception that one party, organization, or sector may carry a greater burden than another—and perhaps a greater liability because of that burden—can deter collaboration. The challenge of balancing the needs to share and to keep information by the various sectors at the community level will have to be carefully addressed by those involved in private–public collaboration.
Those collaborating might consider information as a resource and understand the limitations in the availability (and accuracy) of information as strategies are developed, activities are coordinated, and responses are implemented.
Organizations often do not seek, develop, or reward the organizational and individual competences needed to support collaborative efforts. Particular types of individual skills and expertise and particular types of organizational entities are required to build trusted relationships and foster collaborative action that overcomes interorganization and intergovernment boundaries. Collaboration and partnerships are often forged through the efforts of “boundary-spanning” people who venture outside their organizational cultures and are open to views and concerns of other organizations. Organizations wishing to build collaborative relationships may find they must assign boundary-spanning responsibilities to appropriate people and empower them to act. Often, however, that important role is neglected, and boundary-spanning activities are constrained. For example, public-sector officials are trained in how not to build relationships with private-sector managers (refusing free meals