Study: Entrepreneurial Approach to Gov't Aids Agencies

Study: Entrepreneurial Approach to Gov't Aids Agencies

By Nick Wakeman, Staff Writer

JULY 5 ? Entrepreneurial organizations that operate within agencies offer a way for the government to adopt the techniques, technologies and efficiencies of the private sector, according to a new study by the PricewaterhouseCoopers Endowment for the Business of Government.

The study examines 12 government businesses providing services ranging from payroll processing to timber measurement. The report outlines the hurdles these and other government entrepreneurial organizations must overcome, and identifies many common characteristics of successful government businesses.

"This report calls attention to the growing number of businesslike enterprises that have emerged within the government and highlights entrepreneurs' creative responses to bringing about a change in government culture," said Paul Lawrence, co-chairman of the endowment. "We hope that the lessons learned from these case studies of entrepreneurial activities will help future government entrepreneurs shape their own organizations."

The rise of entrepreneurial government organizations was sparked by the National Performance Review, which looked at ways to improve government operations, along with acquisition reform, tight budgets and government downsizing.

Some of the agencies the report highlights for having entrepreneurial organizations include the Central Intelligence Agency, the Agriculture Department's National Finance Center, and the National Institutes of Health's Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center.

While these organizations have had success, they are not always welcome, according to the report, because they threaten the status quo.

But they also bring numerous advantages, according to the report, which found that entrepreneurial organizations often rely on funds not directly controlled by Congress, freeing them to disagree with legislative oversight. Entrepreneurial organizations bring managers face-to-face with the true costs of accomplishing projects, forcing them to acknowledge inefficiencies and reorder priorities.

The study said these organizations also often demand better service and follow rules inventively, and market their services and compete in a way that forces other entities ó inside and outside the government ó to improve their offerings and prices at the risk of losing customers.

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