The Administrative Conference of the United States: Recommendations to Advance Cross‐Agency Collaboration under the GPRA Modernization Act

Published date01 January 2014
Date01 January 2014
AuthorPaul R. Verkuil,Jane E. Fountain
Paul R. Verkuil is the tenth chairman of
the Administrative Conference of the United
States. He is a well-known administrative
law teacher and scholar who has coau-
thored a leading treatise, Administrative
Law and Process, in addition to several
other books and more than 65 articles
on the general topic of public law and
regulation. He is a graduate of the College
of William and Mary and the University of
Virginia Law School and holds a doctor
of judicial science degree from New York
University Law School.
Jane E. Fountain is distinguished
professor of political science and public
policy at the University of Massachusetts
Amherst. She directs the National Center
for Digital Government, a research center
based on the campus. Fountain’s research
focuses on public management and
administration, cross-agency collaboration,
and governance in the digital age. She is a
graduate of Harvard and Yale universities
and a fellow of the National Academy of
Public Administration.
10 Public Administration Review • January | February 2014
Public Administration Review,
Vol. 74, Iss. 1, pp. 10–11. © 2014 by
The American Society for Public Administration.
DOI: 10.1111/puar.12175.
Published 2014. This article is a
US Government work and is in the public
domain in the USA.
Paul R. Verkuil
Administrative Conference of the United States
Jane E. Fountain
University of Massachusetts Amherst
The interplay between law and public
administration was perhaps best described
by Woodrow Wilson, who once said that
“[p]ublic administration is detailed and systematic
execution of public law. Every particular application
of general law is an act of administration.” Wilson’s
words still ring true today at the Administrative
Conference of the United States (ACUS), where
principles of public administration and management
are intertwined with the work of ACUS. Accordingly,
readers of Public Administration Review are invited to
learn more about the Administrative Conference and
assist in fulf‌i lling its mission. One path to do so may
lie in a recent study conducted by Jane E. Fountain
for ACUS titled “ e GPRA Modernization Act of
2010: Examining Constraints to, and Providing Tools
for, Cross-Agency Collaboration” (Fountain 2013).
The Administrative Conference
of the United States
Established by the Administrative Conference Act
in 1964, ACUS is an independent federal agency
dedicated to improving the administrative process
through consensus-driven applied research, provid-
ing nonpartisan expert advice, and adopting recom-
mendations for the improvement of federal agency
procedures. Its 101-member body is composed of
senior federal of‌f‌i cials representing more than 200
government agencies and private sector and academic
experts with diverse views and backgrounds.
ACUS was dormant for 15 years, beginning in 1995,
when Congress eliminated its funding.  e agency
resumed operations with the conf‌i rmation of its tenth
chairman, Paul R. Verkuil, in March 2010. In July of
that year, President Barack Obama appointed ACUS’s
10-member council and called ACUS “a public–pri-
vate partnership designed to make government work
better.” ACUS is committed to promoting improved
government procedures, including fair and ef‌f ec-
tive dispute resolution and wide public participation
and ef‌f‌i ciency in the rulemaking process by leverag-
ing interactive technologies and encouraging open
communication with the public. In addition, ACUS’s
mandate includes fostering improvements to the regu-
latory process by reducing unnecessary litigation and
improving the use of science.
Since its inception, ACUS has made more than
200 recommendations aimed at improving agency
decision making, enhancing judicial oversight of the
administrative process, and making valuable statu-
tory proposals. Since the agency’s revival in 2010,
ACUS has issued more than 20 recommendations,
some of which involve public administration and
management issues, in addition to administrative law
issues. Examples include making recommendations to
improve the use of cost–benef‌i t analysis by independ-
ent regulatory agencies, highlighting a number of
innovative practices undertaken by federal agencies in
their use of science in regulatory decision making, and
recommending ways to improve the Social Security
disability benef‌i ts adjudication process.
Cross-Agency Collaboration: Constraints
and Tools
Expanding on this growing body of work is an ACUS
recommendation adopted in December 2013 focused
on highlighting tools to help agencies address (real
and perceived) legal barriers to cross-agency collabora-
tion under the Government Performance and Results
Act (GPRA) Modernization Act of 2010 and encour-
aging agency attorneys and other agency staf‌f to aid
such collaboration.  e underlying study for this
recommendation examines institutional, legal, and
managerial challenges to collaboration across agencies
in the federal government and with their partners in
state and local governments. For example, among the
case studies is an examination of veteran homelessness,
where collaboration across an array of federal, state,
and local agencies, in addition to their nonprof‌i t and
private partners, is essential for reducing homelessness
among the nation’s veterans and their families.
Cross-agency collaboration holds promise as a power-
ful lever for performance improvement reform in
e Administrative Conference of the United States:
Recommendations to Advance Cross-Agency
Collaboration under the GPRA Modernization Act

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