Tight Budgets Could Bring Era of Interagency Cooperation

June 17, 2012

The word "interagency" is an elusive concept of voluntary associations of federal departments and agencies, each having its own procedures, jargon and rules. Each federal department has its own leader, budget, mission, career progression and congressional oversight committee. As such, there is little incentive to cooperate. While one might think that temporary service outside of one's own agency would be seen as broadening, that is rarely the case because there is no incentive for it.

Before the Goldwater-Nichols legislation in 1984, the armed services were separate within the Defense Department and less than effective, as evidenced by the failed Iranian rescue attempt in 1980. That failure spurred Congress to pass the Goldwater-Nichols Act, which ushered in a new era of jointness within the military services. Twenty-eight years later, the armed services are indeed joint.

Similarly, the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon demonstrated that our intelligence and federal response was fragmented, uncooperative and lacking central direction. 

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