National Park Service Partnership Council Charter
In the experience of the National Park Service (NPS), partnerships are voluntary relationships through which each member of the relationship advances its own mission by working collaboratively with others to achieve congruent and overlapping objectives. In short, partnerships -- when they are successful -- are win-win relationships. Many are documented through formal agreements. The NPS is increasingly using partnerships to deal with issues and opportunities that cross policies, programs, agencies, technical lines, parks, communities, and landscapes. Most importantly partnerships can be used to connect people with their parks, ideas and a conservation ethic that will sustain our parks forever. Partnerships are important in both park and program management because they enable us to become more effective in our work, to be more responsive to federal, state, local, Tribal, and private sector concerns and to bring us closer to the public we serve. In order to help the NPS meet the opportunities and challenges of the future, we hereby establish and sustain this Partnership Council.
The purposes of the Partnership Council are:
- To provide leadership throughout the National Park Service that will expand
the Service's capacity to foster, manage, and sustain partnerships; enhance the
quality of existing partnerships; and support partnership programs and
activities that will serve as models for partnerships in the federal sector;
- To advise and make recommendations to the Associate Director, Partnerships,
Interpretation and Education, Volunteers, and Outdoor Recreation, on issues
related to partnerships;
- To facilitate open communication and dialog among the Associate Director,
Partnerships, Interpretation and Education, Volunteers and Outdoor
Recreation; the WASO Partnership Office; park units; regional offices;
service centers; program offices; the National Park Foundation; and other key
- To serve as a forum for the discussion of issues and concerns related to
Partnerships and to develop recommendations that help resolve and/or
solve those issues and concerns; and
- To suggest, test and promote new and innovative concepts related to a broad
range of partnerships.
It is understood that some of the Council's recommendations and/or advice
can and will be acted on by the Council; other items will be forwarded
to/through the Associate Director, Partnerships, Interpretation and
Education, Volunteers and Outdoor Recreation for his/her action or that of
another Associate; and other items will be forwarded to the Director and/or
National Leadership Council, as appropriate.
It is the Council's intent to deal with existing and future policy issues and that
any other level of recommendation should be considered and implemented,
as appropriate, through the line structure (e.g., Director to Regional
Director to Superintendents) of the NPS.
The Partnership Council consists of 25 members, as follows:
- 7 representing the WASO Assistant Directors (2) and (5) Associate
- 1 representing the WASO Partnership Office
- 7 representing each Regional Director
- 2 representing the Service Center managers
- 7 field representatives, preferably at the superintendent level, appointed by
each Regional Director
- 1 representing the National Park Foundation
The Council notes that the National Park Foundation participates on the Council because it is the only partner that has a congressional charter and, thus, is an official partner with the NPS. All other participants are federal employees.
Alternates, designated by the appropriate regional or associate director, may attend meetings when members cannot. Alternates carry the same level of responsibility as members. The Council may invite others to participate as non-voting
- RESPONSIBILITIES, FUNCTIONS, AND COMMUNICATIONS
It is the responsibility of all members (or their alternates) to regularly attend meetings. Others may petition the Council for membership and participation. It is understood that Council representatives serve as liaison between their parks, programs, organizations, regional directors, or regions and the Council, bringing input, issues and ideas to the Council.
It is expected that representatives will coordinate agenda items and discussion with their principals before and after meetings. In particular, minutes from the Council meetings should be made available for review by principals.
Other NPS staff and programs may be invited to participate in Council meetings on specific issues.
The Council will advise the Associate Director, Partnerships, Interpretation and Education, Volunteers and Outdoor Recreation in naming task groups of NPS employees through the appropriate regional supervisory and organizational levels from time to time as necessary to deal with specific issues.
The Council may solicit input from subject matter experts as appropriate.
The Council may occasionally accept invitations from other groups to meet concurrently.
- GOVERNANCE, LEADERSHIP, AND DECISION MAKING
In order to improve the quality of decision making, the Partnership Council will manage itself through Co-Chairs. Specifically, the Council Co-Chairs will be the Associate Director, Partnerships, Interpretation and Education, Volunteers and Outdoor Recreation and one person from a regional office or a park. Also identified will be a back up Co-Chair who will assist the regional office or park Co-Chair. The tenure of the regional office or park Co-Chair is one year from the date of selection, after which time the backup Co-Chair will assume lead responsibility and a new back-up Co-Chair from a regional office or a park will be elected by the Council. The criteria for selection of a regional office or park Co-Chair are available time, expertise, willingness, and location.
The Associate Director, Partnerships, Interpretation and Education, Volunteers, and Outdoor Recreation, is responsible for facilitating logistics in support of the Council. It is the responsibility of the regional office or park Co-Chair to identify views and concerns of the seven regions and to feed them into the Council's discussion, thereby creating a more explicit regional view in the full discussion of issues.
The regional office or park Co-Chair is responsible for facilitating the development of a draft agenda of items for consideration by the Council, drawing on the interest and issues identified through all Council members and their principals. Under this concept the Council will encourage the use of Task Groups to assist the members and to reach out to the other programs, parks, and interests. The regional or park Co-Chair will also monitor and track the Council's decisions and implementation of action plans and will develop a communication strategy to ensure wide and thorough communication.
When making recommendations, the Council will make decisions primarily by consensus. However, it is recognized that from time to time consensus is not possible. Therefore, as a fallback to consensus, the Council will send forward to the Associate Director, Partnerships, Interpretation and Education, Volunteers, and Outdoor Recreation two or more options concerning an issue along with some analysis of the strengths and limitations of each as well as an outline of the majority view coupled with an explicit minority view.
- OPERATING PRINCIPLES
The operating principles of the Council include open communication, collaboration, flexibility, inclusion, adaptive management (with learning and reflection), and open dialog. Using these principles, the Council will operate in a proactive manner, modeling the behaviors of true partnership including (but not limited to):
- Dealing directly with each other.
- Being forthright.
- Being responsive to each other's questions.
- Always acting as a team.
- Doing self-education and reflection, including exploring literature on partnership and educating themselves on partnerships.
- Being responsive to each other's oral and written communication -- including E-mails:
- Indicating whether a communication can be shared with the field, and partner organizations or not; and
Clarifying when a response is needed.
- CONTINUITY OF OPERATIONS
Continuity of operations -- including meeting arrangements, facilitation, logistics, general coordination, and maintaining files for meetings and issues -- for the Partnership Council will be provided by an office designated by the Associate Director, Partnerships, Interpretation and Education, Volunteers, and Outdoor Recreation.
The Partnership Council will meet at least 2 times a year in person, once in the East and once in the West. Meetings will be facilitated, and the facilitator will prepare notes of the meeting. To further communication, there will be conference calls on the first Tuesday of every month. The schedule for conference calls may be changed as deemed necessary by the Council, so long as Council members are notified at least two weeks in advance.
- TERM OF THE COUNCIL
The Partnership Council is intended to carry out its duties for a period of five years from the date that this Charter is approved by the Associate Director, Partnerships, Interpretation and Education, Volunteers, and Outdoor Recreation. The Charter and the Partnership Council may be extended, with the approval of the Associate Director, Partnerships, Interpretation and Education, Volunteers, and Outdoor Recreation with a consensus of the Council.