Source: Public Administration Review, Vol. 71 Issue 2, March/April 2011
From the introduction:
Although media and public attention have focused mostly on national policy making, program development, and funding decisions, intergovernmental relations and management remain vital to virtually all initiatives emanating from Washington, D.C. Yet a lack of adequate attention to intergovernmental matters–from policy formulation through policy implementation and evaluation–imperils effective and efficient governance in ways that are readily evident today. The intergovernmental confusion and clashes that attended governments’ responses to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico suggested, for instance, that key government actors had not fully learned the lessons of the horribly bungled responses to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Hence, forces of coercion, cooperation, competition, and contestation continue to vie for intergovernmental preeminence.
The capacity–especially the federal government’s capacity–to even recognize, let alone address, the intergovernmental sinews of our federal democracy has atrophied severely since the 1980s. This symposium focuses on the loss in 1996 of one element of such an institutional capacity–the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR)–but intergovernmental deinstitutionalization occurred across the board during the 1980s and 1990s. The president’s Office of Management and Budget no longer has an explicit intergovernmental shop; the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs (called the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement under President Obama) is more pertinent to politics than to policy; the U.S. House and Senate no longer have subcommittees on intergovernmental relations; and the U.S. Government Accountability Office no longer has a formal intergovernmental unit. At the same time, partisanship, interest group advocacy, and confrontational politics have eroded support for the kinds of impartial research, objective data collection, bipartisan policy development, and collaborative performance produced by the ACIR and its former institutional cousins in Congress and the executive branch.
This symposium looks mainly at the trends and issues associated with the creation and demise of the ACIR, and assesses prospects for recreating lost capacities. These include monitoring intergovernmental trends, convening key stakeholders, conducting impartial research and data analysis, and recommending practical policies and management practices. The symposium also surveys the state ACIRs.
– Reflections on the Spirit and Work of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations by Bruce D. McDowell
– An ACIR Perspective on Intergovernmental Institutional Development by
Carl W. Stenberg
– Reflections of a Member of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations by Richard P. Nathan
– “Big Questions” about Intergovernmental Relations and Management: Who Will Address Them? by John Kincaid and Carl W. Stenberg