President Obama recently emphasized that government should be both participatory and collaborative. Collaboration, when properly executed, expands the information and insight that is available to agencies, and the focused deliberation can result in policies that would be difficult to achieve otherwise. The essence of collaboration is the bilateral nature of the discussions, with the agency engaging in a give and take, instead of simply informing itself to make the decision alone.
Collaboration can take many forms and be employed throughout the regulatory process: it might be a scoping session to develop the issues that need to be taken into account in a new rule; it might be a policy dialogue or roundtable in which the science or other important components are discussed; it might be recommendations to the agency concerning a proposed rule; or, indeed, the collaboration might be entirely within the private sector to establish a policy in lieu of mandatory regulation. While these are certainly helpful in informing the agency, they stop short of securing the ultimate benefit of collaboration: an actual agreement on the major provisions of a new policy.
On the other hand, if not used properly, a collaborative approach can waste valuable time or lead to deficient decisions. Thus, doing right and in the right situations is critically important.
This timely program will explore the regulatory use of collaborative governance and develop recommendations for its appropriate use.