ICMA seeks to continue strong intergovernmental relations
Some local and state government officials say that cooperation between them and federal government agencies is better than it has been in a long time, however, the Washington-based International City/County Management Association (ICMA) sees plenty of room for improvement. It has released a whitepaper that calls for a new kind of partnership between the state and local levels and the federal government.
In “Restoring the Intergovernmental Partnership: What Needs to Change,” ICMA calls for a new intergovernmental structure that would be similar to the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR) that was disbanded in 1996 after 37 years of operation. “Rather than a reactive situation where we’re jumping into something after it gets going, we’d like to work closely with our partners in the federal government in a more thoughtful way so that we can work with them on the policy questions and problems over time,” ICMA Deputy Executive Director Elizabeth Kellar says.
Like ACIR, the new organization would use a flexible and inclusive model when studying policy questions, says Dr. Michael Howell-Moroney, co-author of the ICMA paper and associate professor of public administration at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “State and local governments face a growing uncertainty in their relationship to the federal government, which often sets policy directives that create additional fiscal and administrative burdens at the state and local levels,” Howell-Moroney says in the paper.
So far the Obama administration, which gathered comments from cities, counties and states in creating the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, has been open to local input, Kellar says. “What we really would like to challenge them to do is to take it to the next level,” she says. “We have huge problems in this country, and the only way that we’re really going to come up with ways to solve them is if we sit down together in a candid way with good data and talk about how we come up with solutions.”