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Comprehensive Community Initiatives, Improving the lives of youth and families through systems change, a toolkit for federal managers
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How the toolkit was created What is a CCI? CCI Tools for Federal Staff
Develop your CCI Project
Guidelines to form Federal Partnerships
3. Designate a coordinator to manage the partnership, but make sure that governance is shared among the partners.
What structure works best to govern a Federal partnership?
To govern the partnership…
  • Distinguish between coordination (day-to-day management) and leadership (setting direction).
  • Agree on tasks/decisions to be handled by the coordinator and leadership tasks/decisions for full partnership.
  • Define each partner’s responsibilities for both coordination and leadership.
  • Designate a coordinator.
  • Consider rotating or sharing the role of coordinator.

Draw a distinction between coordination (the day-to-day management of the partnership) and leadership (setting the direction of the CCI and making major decisions).

Get partners to agree on which decisions and activities will be handled by the coordinator(s), and which will involve the entire partnership.

Define a role for each partner that sets out its responsibilities for coordination and leadership, and also what it will contribute in the way of staff time and funding. Put these roles in writing (perhaps as an MOU) so that each partner knows what it can expect of the others and has the authority and leverage to carry out its work. Create a leadership team that is accountable to the entire funding partnership.

Designate a coordinator. To make the determination, consider:

  • Agency priorities and/or legislative mandates.
  • Agency investment.
  • Whether the agency can make available staff time and other resources.
“Someone has to administer the funds. One agency has to take the shared vision of the project and provide administrative drive.” — A Federal project manager

Consider rotating or sharing the role of coordinator. Although the coordinator is usually a major funder, this role can be rotated or shared among the partners to keep a variety of agencies actively involved in the work.

How can we sustain the partnership despite turnover in leadership and staffing at partner agencies?
To sustain the partnership…
  • Share governance among partners.
  • Define a clear role for each partner.
  • Refer to your logic model during times of transition.
  • Put roles and agreements in writing.
  • Keep a record of the partnership’s decisions and actions.
  • Conduct a formal orientation for new partners.
  • Create publications and products.
  • Make sure partners report back to their agencies.
  • Make sure each partner agency has a transition plan.

Share governance among the partners to:

  • Make it easier to adjust to changes — because no single agency will hold all the information about the CCI, and more than one partner will establish relationships with sites.
  • Increase each partner’s investment in the success of the initiative.
  • Make sure that all partners are familiar with the history of the CCI and the reasoning behind its decisions.
  • Create empathy for sites as they face the challenges of collaboration.

See an example of shared governance in a Federal partnership.

Define a clear role for each partner to make it easier to pass responsibilities from one agency representative to the next.

Refer to your logic model during times of transition to reaffirm the original rationale for the CCI, orient new agency representatives, and revise the CCI’s goals and activities in response to changing conditions. The logic model is a living document. By consulting previous versions, you can easily track the evolution of the CCI over time.

Document roles and agreements in MOUs.

Keep a record of the partnership’s decisions and actions so that, in case of staff turnover, a new agency representative can easily step in and the work can continue uninterrupted. The record can also serve as a guide for future CCI projects.

Designate one partner (perhaps the coordinator) to conduct a formal orientation whenever there is turnover in agency representation. Don’t depend on simply making information available to new representatives, as it may get lost in the confusion of taking on a new job.

Create publications and products from the CCI as a means of documenting and disseminating knowledge and lessons learned. This might include agreements, forms, and templates that have been found effective.

Encourage partnership representatives to give regular updates to colleagues in their own agencies so that other knowledgeable staff can step in if the representative leaves the agency or moves to a different post.

Make sure that each partner agency has a plan for transitioning between the representative who participates in conceptualizing and planning the initiative and the staff who will implement the plans.