Effective governance has long been recognized as a key success factor in planning and implementing information sharing and technology projects and initiatives. Additionally, governance structures allow for proper strategic planning, coordination and decisionmaking around key public safety areas, such as interoperability, emergency planning, and homeland security. In SEARCH’s work with justice and public safety agencies undertaking these efforts, SEARCH advocates and provides support, guidance, and resources for developing governance structures.
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Generally, “governance” refers to the creation of a formally organized structure that ensures principal participants, stakeholders, and users are appropriately involved in a project or are focused on a particular public safety area or process improvement.
Defining this governing body or structure, whether by executive order, statute, informal organization or by a memorandum of understanding, ensures a place at the table for all relevant agencies and users and formalizes and ensures equality in decision-making.
Need advice on governance for your agency’s or jurisdiction’s effort? Want resource materials? SEARCH is here to help through a variety of tools, resources and publications:
- Download our publication, Governance Structures, Roles and Responsibilities
- Download this SEARCH Justice IT Brief, Measuring Progress: A Summary of Key Milestones In Support of Justice Integration (Milestone #1 is Institutionalize a Governance Structure)
- Six Steps to Creating a Project Decisionmaking Structure , an excerpt from the Law Enforcement Tech Guide
- Listen to this SEARCH podcast, in which a captain with the Fargo (North Dakota) Police Department discusses long-term governance of regional CAD/RMS projects
- Download sample project decisionmaking structures
(Note: The following sample decisionmaking structures have either a law enforcement or public safety focus, but can be applied to other types of agencies, such as justice or prosecution. Coming soon will be more broad-based governance structure examples.)
– Use Structure 1 if your agency is large (100+ sworn officers), your project is large (involving multiple technologies or a technology that affects multiple units or the entire department), or if your project is a regional effort (involving multiple agencies and/or jurisdictions)
– Use Structure 2 if your agency is small- to medium-sized (fewer than 100 sworn officers), your project is narrowly focused (for a large agency, perhaps it is a project within a specific unit), or financial limitations restrict the amount of human resources that can be allocated to project planning
– Use Structure 3 if your agency or region is considering establishing a decision-making structure to address a larger public safety process area like interoperable communications, regional emergency planning, or regional homeland security
- Download these governance resources from SAFECOM for public safety communications:
Governance as it applies to information sharing projects
Sharing and exchanging justice information in an automated fashion is a complicated process. It requires the state to play a leadership role in building the infrastructure that enables statewide information sharing, and to create, adopt and maintain state information systems and standards. Clearly, this is a significant challenge for state and local public policymakers and justice administrators.
The administration of justice includes numerous justice and nonjustice agencies, many of which operate myriad systems for collecting, maintaining, analyzing and sharing data and information critical to carrying out their respective missions. Creating the capacity to share information and data among and between agencies, levels of government and a variety of disciplines means overcoming established barriers to data exchange.Representatives of the various agencies, disciplines and levels of government, therefore, must come together and formulate and agree to a unified strategy for achieving interoperability. Planning for and implementing integrated justice is a complicated business that involves a multifaceted array of technical, political, organizational, legal, technical, cultural and personal issues that must be addressed. Some formal organizational structure is a necessary first step to ensure that the principal participants, stakeholders, and users are intimately involved in the project.
The governing body is the vehicle through which agencies, stakeholders and users participating in integrated justice strategically plan for integrated systems implementation. It:
- Articulates a united vision and determine the scope and focus of integrated justice;
- Identifies legal, policy, administrative, funding and technical requirements and other obstacles to achieving integration;
- Defines and sanctions project objectives, tasks and timetables;
- Garners support from other state decisionmakers;
- Monitors planning, implementation, and management activities;
- Defines integrated justice operational requirements;
- Oversees systems acquisition;
- Resolves obstacles to implementation; and
- Reviews system performance and makes recommendations concerning systems improvements, enhancements and next phases.
Source: Governance Structures, Roles and Responsibilities
Note: This definition applies to enterprise governance rather than a discrete project.
Governance as it applies to interoperability
The term “governance” is sometimes used to describe a decision-making structure. Most appropriately, governance is the body or organizational structure guiding a larger interoperability process, as opposed to a specific project. For example, a multijurisdictional region may have an overarching initiative to improve communications interoperability. Or a state may have an interoperability executive committee (SIEC). Within those processes, there may be multiple projects being undertaken by a variety of involved partners.
We use the term “decision-making structure” here specifically for projects that have an identifiable beginning and end. Governance bodies generally serve ongoing initiatives or oversee management of multiagency systems after implementation. Processes to improve interoperability lead to projects and back to processes for managing underlying systems—organizational and technical—over their lifecycles. As systems become long in the tooth, processes to improve them arise again.
Source: Law Enforcement Tech Guide for Communications Interoperability