Overview of our latest event: Preparing governments for future shocks: Roadmap to resilience

Preparing governments for future shocks: Roadmap to resilience

Our Panel:

  • J. Christopher Mihm, Adjunct Professor of Public Administration & International Affairs, Syracuse University Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and former Managing Director for Strategic Issues at GAO
  • Eric J. McNulty, National Preparedness Leadership Initiative Associate Director and Harvard-affiliated Author, Speaker, and Educator
  • Kriste Jordan Smith, TSA DFW Federal Security Director and 2024 Chair, Dallas-Fort Worth Federal Executive


The panel was moderated by Smith, who later summed up the event as follows:

Reading for Thought Leaders:

  1. Preparing Government for Future Shocks, A Roadmap to Resilience, lead author Chris Mihm
  2. Harvard National Preparedness Leadership Institute (NPLI) resources such as the Boston Marathon Case Study and Eric McNulty’s book, You’re It, both at https://npli.sph.harvard.edu/resources/.

Beliefs to Shift Towards:

  1. Whole of community efforts outperform agency-centric planning
  2. Give people permission to adapt, and they will figure it out
  3. Collaboration delivers better results than competition; pursue collaborative capacity
  4. Integrating and harmonizing is our most important work
  5. Remember that governance is not just about driving towards a Return on Investment (ROI), it’s about creating relationships that integrate the horizontal and vertical

Skills to Cultivate:

  1. Deeply listening to non-traditional stakeholders; what “keeps them up at night?”
  2. Boundary spanning; extending your network beyond command and control lines of authority
  3. Identifying your “barnacles of bureaucracy”, considering how to remove them
  4. Staying iterative, keeping moving to evolve
  5. Systems thinking; understanding the incentives and drivers at play
  6. Refine how you think about resilience. Explore it in multiple ways: psychological “it’s all in our head”, engineering “you bend it, you break it”, and evolutionary, “adapt or die”
  7. Effective, human-centered storytelling
  8. Negotiating and Resolving Conflict
  9. Decision Sciences
  10. Foresight
    *8, 9, and 10 are a “package”, the baseline for successful public service professionals

Tools to Use:

  1. Human-centered design principles
  2. Situation Connectivity Map, per Harvard National Preparedness Leadership Initiative
  3. Tabletop Exercises; a tactical way to cultivate relationships long before you need them
  4. After Action Reviews; build in that whole of community perspective
  5. “Julie” – the virtual assistant at Amtrak; it works! One of the better examples of how automation does not have to result in the endless doom loop of ineffectiveness.

Contact Information:
 Chris Mihm, j.christopher.mihm@gmail.com
 Eric McNulty, eric@ericmcnulty.com
 Kriste Jordan Smith, kriste.jordan-smith@tsa.dhs.gov

Attend our Upcoming Event: Preparing governments for future shocks: A roadmap to resilience

Last November, Government Executive reported on a new study, “Preparing governments for future shocks: A roadmap to resilience,” released jointly by the National Academy of Public Administration and the IBM Center for the Business of Government under the executive sponsorship of Global Public Sector IBM. The Government Executive summary brings readers up to speed quickly and links directly to the seminal new study, which emphasizes cooperation among cross-sector networks to enable detailed actions that leaders in each can take to meet eight imperatives.

The National Capital Area Chapter will host a panel discussion featuring the study’s lead author, J. Christopher Mihm. Chris, a long-time chapter member and NAPA Fellow, is Adjunct Professor of Public Administration & International Affairs at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. He is the former Managing Director for Strategic Issues at the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) where he led GAO’s work on governance, strategy, and performance issues. Currently, he serves as Deputy Chair of the Governance, Audit and Compliance
Committee of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).

The other two panel members are associated with the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI) at Harvard University, as follows:
Eric J. McNulty, NPLI Associate Director and instructor in the
Health Care Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program.

McNulty is the principal author of the NPLI case studies on leadership decision making in the Boston Marathon bombing response, innovation in the response Hurricane Sandy and the professional/political interface in the Deepwater Horizon response, drawing upon his firsthand research as well as extensive interviews with leaders involved in the responses. Find the case studies at https://npli.sph.harvard.edu/resources/. He is co-author of You're It: Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When It Matters Most.

Kriste Jordan Smith, Director of Federal Security at DFW International Airport and 2024 Chair, Dallas-Fort Worth Federal Executive Board (FEB). Smith, who attended the NPLI program with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Senior Executive Service colleagues, is at the tip of the spear when it comes to dealing with non-routine events that challenge resilience. Her TSA role’s efficacy depends on good working relationships with leaders of every other function at the 3rd busiest airport in the world by aircraft movements. The FEB role extends her network to 80 Federal Agency Heads and 220 Federal Departments, Independent Agencies, and Senior agency officials
throughout North Central Texas. Smith will moderate the discussion and Q & A.

2023 Annual Meeting

In May ASPA-NCAC held our 2023 Annual Conference on zoom!

Our keynote speaker was Beth Noveck, a professor at Northeastern University, where she directs the Burnes Center for Social Change and its partner project, The Governance Lab and its MacArthur Research Network on Opening Governance. She is the author of Solving Problems: How to Fix Our Government and Change Our World (Yale Press 2021).

It was a pleasure having Beth speak to us about her book and have a discussion.

We also awarded our Essay Contest winners with their awards and heard from them about their papers.

Included in our Annual Meeting portion of the evening was the presentation of an NCAC Award.

You can watch a recording of our event below.

ASPA NCAC 2023 Annual Meeting