Government-to-University Initiative

Building lasting partnerships between government and universities.

The G2U Initiative is an innovative approach to addressing critical governance challenges by building regional networks of governments and universities. G2U sustainably connects government’s hiring and research needs with local university capacity. The initiative is premised on the notion that bringing government and university leaders together is a powerful approach to strengthening government’s ability to deliver on its mission. The enthusiasm from partners in government, universities, and the civic sector in regions across the country illustrates the promise and power of G2U collaboration in reshaping the future of government. 

At the core of the G2U Initiative is a growing group of vibrant, regional networks connecting local, state, and federal government leaders with key faculty and administrators from surrounding colleges and universities. Regional networks also engage nonprofit, civic, and private sector leaders interested in strengthening these relationships. To complement these efforts, the Volcker Alliance fosters a “network of networks” to facilitate the rapid exchange of ideas and best practices and provide engagement opportunities with national organizations allied with G2U aims.

What are the core values that unite G2U networks?

  • Public service. G2U networks affirm that public service is a high calling, and it is critical to engage our most thoughtful and accomplished citizens in service to the public good.
  • Connectivity. G2U networks believe in the power of coming together, and the potential for strong, lasting relationships between government and university partners to shape the future of government and enhance the impact of universities.
  • Preparedness. G2U networks believe the performance of government institutions depends critically on the training and education of talented public servants, and this responsibility is shared by our government, by our institutions of higher education, and by leading institutions in every sector of society.
  • State of the art governance. G2U networks believe that governments will be most effective in developing public policy and implementing public programs if they avail themselves of current data and evidence, and the latest evaluation techniques. Universities are essential partners in that endeavor. 
  • Inclusivity. G2U networks are inclusive, engaging representatives from two-year, four-year, and graduate institutions, partnering with governments at all levels, and encouraging network membership to reflect the diversity of the communities it serves.
  • Peer-to-peer learning. G2U networks are eager to share lessons across jurisdictions and benefit from the experience of their peers working to expand government-university collaborations around the nation.

Why is G2U important?

The G2U Initiative was developed in partnership with Dustin Brown, who joined the Volcker Alliance as a senior fellow during a six-month sabbatical from his role as the deputy assistant director for management at the US Office of Management and Budget. The Initiative grew out of a series of exploratory conversations that the Alliance hosted around the country to improve dialogue and explore collaborations between governments and universities within a region.

There was broad agreement that universities can play a significant role in assisting government to overcome some of its most intractable challenges. This is because, today, there is a growing disconnect between government needs and university alignment with those needs.

  • Our nation is facing an urgent public sector workforce crisis. Twenty-three percent of the private sector workforce is under the age of thirty, while only seven percent of the federal government workforce is under that age. In the last five years, the number of job postings for state government employment has risen eleven percent, even as total applications have fallen by twenty-five percent. Federal, state, and local governments will see a doubling of the percent of their workforce that is eligible to retire in the next five years.
  • The performance of our government institutions depends significantly on the training and education of talented public servants. Government practitioners confirm that “skilling” and “reskilling” needs will increase due to technological advancements.
  • Only thirteen percent of top public administration journal articles are focused on specific performance problems in government, and there has often been a disconnect between university research and its potential use by government. There is great opportunity for universities to supplement government’s knowledge, foresight, and evaluation capacities with academic research. This has historically been complicated by budget constraints and performance demands compelling efficiency.

Where have G2U networks been established?

The pilot G2U Coalition in Kansas City, led by the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), celebrated its one-year anniversary in April 2020. Building on its success, in February 2020, the G2U initiative expanded to two additional sites: Los Angeles, California, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In Los Angeles, the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) is anchoring the effort. In Pittsburgh, the effort is led by Metro21: Smart Cities Institute and Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy

G2U continues to grow across the country; in August 2020, the initiative launched sites in Chicago, led by the Government College Relations Council, and North Carolina, led by the North Carolina Office of Strategic Partnerships. This expansion has provided for collaboration and learning across the G2U network at a time when universities, governments, and the job market are undergoing massive transformations. 

The initial focus of all our G2U partners has been to strengthen the public sector talent pipeline.

What does success look like?

  • Durable, trusted partnerships between the government and university sectors;
  • Top university graduates employed in government jobs; 
  • Relevant, incisive university research projects addressing government challenges;
  • Smart policy changes reducing barriers to government recruitment and hiring;
  • Robust engagement between innovative local leaders and aligned national initiatives; and
  • Elevation of the talent pipeline into government as an urgent national priority.

How do I join the movement?

If you are currently facilitating collaboration between governments and universities in your community, or if you are interested in playing a role in strengthening government-university relationships in your community, the Volcker Alliance wants to hear from you. Please reach out to G2U@volckeralliance.org. Our team will arrange an introductory conversation to jointly assess how you might participate in the G2U movement.

G2U partners can also receive access to information, ideas, and best practices from across the network through the G2U Resource Exchange. Sign up below to receive periodic Resource Exchange email updates from the Volcker Alliance G2U team.

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