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PCI Meets with Civic Leaders in New Orleans, Participates in Emergency Preparedness Analysis in California

Policy Consensus Initiative (www.policyconsensus.org) recently invited a group of civic leaders from New Orleans to meet with PCI to share their perspectives on what is needed to begin the recovery and restoration process. In addition to an extensive catalogue of resource needs, they cited the need for collaboration. To PCI’s question about what has to occur to bring about collaboration they answered: Collaboration can begin when the necessary parties are willing to come to the table to establish a common goal and begin working together to achieve it. Given the magnitude of the disaster, they need local, state, and federal governments at the table. The civic leaders believe that this is the time to get people galvanized so that all the necessary parties are willing to come together to develop solutions. PCI left New Orleans with the view that there needs to be a convener of stature to lead the recovery and restoration efforts. The civic leaders who met there believe the federal government needs to play that role. PCI says this is an example of a situation where collaboration is not yet possible. Using collaborative governance to address a problem of this nature requires all affected governments and agencies to be ready to find mutual agreement on purpose and objectives. The necessary partners for recovery and restoration in Louisiana first need to agree upon a framework for combining their efforts. For more news on collaborative policy-making, click on the link below.

In other post-Katrina news, collaboration is being employed to accelerate Emergency Preparedness efforts in California. Thirteen California state agencies recently completed a plan for modernizing state agency communications and improving the ability of the different agencies to communicate with one another during an emergency. This undertaking by the State Office of Emergency Services and the Interoperability Coalition began last summer when the Center for Collaborative Policy at California State University Sacramento offered its collaborative expertise to assist them with their deliberations. Coalition members recently submitted their plan to the California Legislature, where it is expected to become a cornerstone of the state’s emergency preparations. The Center hired Adam Sutkus, former state Director of California’s Citizen Corps Program for community-based homeland security, and a former Chief of Staff at the Office of Emergency Services, to provide strategic consultation, organizational design, and policy facilitation services. Mr. Sutkus is now working with an analogous group seeking to improve emergency communications for local governments. A third collaborative project is underway to help emergency response and homeland security programs throughout the state comply with new National Incident Management System (NIMS) requirements so that they will be eligible for additional federal grants in 2007. Mr. Sutkus is also working with Terry Amsler, California League of Cities/Collaborative Governance Initiative, to convene local governments to discuss how they can potentially use collaborative problem solving tools to work with stakeholders, emergency responders (fire, law enforcement, emergency medical, etc.) and the general public to coordinate emergency planning and preparation. It is fair to say that cross-jurisdictional collaborative mechanisms to achieve complex emergency management and homeland security goals are beginning to take hold in California. For more information, you can contact Adam Sutkus at (916) 445-2079 or email asutkus@ccp.scus.edu

Amy Lang
Amy Lang is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at the University of British Columbia. She wrote her dissertation on British Columbia’s groundbreaking Citizens’ Assembly process, and is currently doing follow-up research on the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly.

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