Improving Cross-Cutting Working

Cross-cutting working is not new to Wales, and it possesses many of the prerequisites for effective cross-government working.

Research shows that cross-cutting working isn’t a panacea or quick fix because it runs counter to the way in which government activity is usually organised and therefore requires high level political commitment backed by significant managerial capacity.

We identify six cross-cutting mechanisms that have been used in Wales and other parts of the UK:

  • ‘Boundary spanning’ individuals, units and agencies (such as cabinet sub-committees, task forces and commissioners);
  • Cross-departmental budgets and performance targets;
  • Policy and legislative frameworks;
  • Shared infrastructures and pooled staff and other resources;
  • Partnership bodies;
  • Self-organising co-operation among ‘frontline’ staff.

Our evidence review highlights three key considerations:

  • Motives – It is important to be clear about why the government is seeking to work in a cross-cutting way i.e. what outcomes is cross-cutting working expected to deliver
  • Modes – There are different types of cross-cutting working and varying degrees of integration. It is important to evaluate what kind of cross-cutting working is needed and achievable and which individuals and organisations need to be involved to make a success of it.
  • Mechanisms – There is no shortage of mechanisms for pursuing cross-cutting working. We have highlighted six including several that have been attempted in Wales. It is important to assess which approaches are most likely to work in what circumstances – on their own or in conjunction with each other.