Lingering accountability issues threaten to overturn advances in intergovernmental relations brought on by the federal government's response to the economic crisis and new policy developments in healthcare and education, according to a whitepaper from the Washington-based International City/County Management Association (ICMA). To avoid the collapse, "Restoring the Intergovernmental Partnership: What Needs to Change" calls for a new kind of collaboration and enhanced bottom-up communication between the state and local levels and the federal government.
The report also calls for a new intergovernmental structure to study, advise and make policy recommendations, which would be similar to the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR) that was disbanded in 1996 after 37 years of operation. Drawing on the historical lessons learned from ACIR, the new organization would use a flexible and inclusive model for the study of specific 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. "As state and local governments are being asked to do more with less and to become more efficient and responsive, they also 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.
Other recommendations discussed in "Restoring the Intergovernmental Partnership" include:
· Launching a systematic campaign to increase federal officials' awareness of the crisis in intergovernmental relations;
Creating a core council of 20 to 25 federal, state and local officials;
Immediately studying the accountability requirements in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as a model for future federal/local government interaction; and
Identifying other salient intergovernmental policy issues.
Download ICMA's "Restoring the Intergovernmental Partnership."