New taskforce to help agencies use volunteers to meet goals

Monday - 7/15/2013, 6:51pm EDT

By Cogan Schneier
Special to Federal News Radio

President Barack Obama announced a new taskforce Monday designed to help agencies achieve their goals by expanding volunteer opportunities.

In a new memorandum, Obama charged the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) with leading the taskforce. The CNCS chief executive and the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council will act as co-chairs. The taskforce will include representatives from 18 government agencies and organizations.

The interagency task force will look at public-private partnerships, interagency collaboration and technology strategies for ways to expand the use of national service. It will also make recommendations on ways to coordinate national service across government agencies.

The memo also called on the Office of Personnel Management to issue guidelines to agencies on how to improve volunteer recruitment. The taskforce will evaluate evaluating the cost-effectiveness of national service in achieving agency priorities.

"By creating new partnerships for national service, the President's action will engage more Americans in results-driven service, expand economic and educational opportunities for those who serve, enhance federal agencies' capacity to achieve their missions, more efficiently use tax dollars and build the pipeline of Americans ready to enter public service," the CNCS stated in a press release Monday.

Each agency on the task force also will consult with CNCS over the next six months about how existing volunteer programs can be used in helping agencies achieve their missions, the memorandum stated. A CNCS fact sheet cited FEMA Corps, School Turnaround AmeriCorps, and STEM AmeriCorps as examples of such programs that can be useful in reaching missions efficiently.

"Volunteer service is and always has been a fundamental part of the American character," said Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS, in the press release. "For decades, Presidents of both parties have embraced national service as a cost-effective way to tap the ingenuity and can-do spirit of the American people to get things done. The President's actions today will usher in a new wave of innovative partnerships to solve problems, expand opportunity, and strengthen our communities and nation."

Obama's memo directed the taskforce to develop policies in the six areas highlighted in the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act of 2009, which include emergency and disaster services, economic opportunity, education, environmental stewardship, healthy futures, and veterans and military families.

The memorandum ordered that the taskforce provide a progress report in 18 months.

(Cogan Schneier is an intern for Federal News Radio.)

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