Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Blog

  • National Nuclear Security Administration Hosts Governors’ Staff for a Discussion on Our Partnership

    Last week, the National Nuclear Security Administration – which works to enhance global security through nuclear deterrence, nonproliferation, counterterrorism, naval nuclear propulsion, and national leadership in science, technology, and engineering – hosted a group of governors’ staff at its Emergency Operations Center to discuss opportunities to partner with governors to advance the President’s nuclear security agenda.  Given the reality of 21st Century radiological and nuclear threats, it is now more important than ever for NNSA to utilize the broad range of assets that federal, state, and local governments can mutually offer to ensure the security of the United States. Last week’s forum provided the opportunity to discuss how the NNSA and states are already in partnership  and set the stage for continued future dialogue regarding the most effective and efficient ways that federal and state partners can leverage individual capabilities to advance common goals. 

    As the NNSA works to ensure the safety and security of our Nation from radiological and nuclear threats, we also leverage our fundamental science, technology, and engineering base to solve some of the country’s most formidable challenges.   We are not advancing these national goals alone, however; we are doing so in partnership with states, industries and universities across the Nation.

    By partnering with states, NNSA is able to apply its technology and expertise to promote economic development within states.  One such successful private - public partnership is the New Mexico Small Business Assistance program, which provides state tax credits in exchange for NNSA to provide technical expertise and assistance to New Mexican small businesses attempting to overcome challenges.

  • Talking Jobs in Vancouver, Washington

    I recently co-hosted a White House Business Council roundtable with Vancouver, Washington Mayor Tim Leavitt.  The meeting took place in a newly-renovated building at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, now a beautiful public park that started out as a trading post founded by the Hudson Bay Company in the 19th Century.

    This roundtable was part of a series of meetings that senior Administration officials are hosting throughout the country to hear directly from business leaders on their ideas to create more jobs and grow the economy.  Senior Administration officials from nearly every federal agency have participated, as have representatives from a variety of sectors, including higher education, high-tech manufacturing, start ups, banks, real estate and construction firms. 

    During the Vancouver discussion, over 25 Vancouver business and community leaders highlighted the region’s economic development strategy, their downtown redevelopment plans, proposed infrastructure investments, and a public-private partnership with Washington State University that promotes new research and technologies.

    I heard several Vancouver business owners speak about the barriers posed by existing and new regulations.  One small business owner cited federal regulations as the most time-intensive and expensive aspects of doing business. We discussed the President’s plan for a 21st-century regulatory system, as outlined in his Executive Order on Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review, which calls for an administration-wide review of regulations already on the books to identify rules that need to be changed or removed because they are out-of-date, unnecessary, excessively burdensome, or in conflict with other rules. 

    Other Vancouver leaders called for a more streamlined approach and better coordination between agencies in the development and construction of infrastructure, a call that echoed the goals of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an initiative that brings together DOT, EPA, and HUD to make more coordinated investments and remove regulatory and policy barriers to infrastructure and sustainable growth.

    Others asked for more resources to navigate the federal process and help connect startup business to capital, which led to a conversation about Startup America, the President’s initiative to celebrate, inspire and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship. 

    After the roundtable, I met with various elected leaders and visited the soon-to-be Vancouver City Hall, currently under the last stages of construction.  I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the business leaders and elected officials for taking the time to provide such thoughtful feedback. 

    David Agnew is the Deputy Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs


  • Vice President Biden Talks to State and Local Officials

    This afternoon, Vice President Joe Biden joined over 440 state, local, tribal and territorial officials on a call to talk about the debt ceiling deal signed by President Obama on August 2 and the Administration's ongoing economic priorities.

    Vice President Biden thanked the many state and local officials who spoke out during the debate for a balanced, bipartisan approach to the debt negotiations. He talked about the tough budget choices that state and local officials make every day, and discussed the President's insistence that costs not be passed on to state and local governments that can ill afford more budget cuts during these times. He also highlighted the significance of preserving funding for infrastructure, education and innovation to help grow the economy and create jobs.

    Following the Vice President, Jason Furman of the National Economic Council took questions from local officials on the call. These city and county leaders echoed the President’s remarks yesterday that now, with the debt ceiling raised and calamity averted, the conversation urgently needs to turn to job creation. Officials from North Carolina to Pennsylvania to Utah thanked the Administration for their efforts to stimulate job growth and encouraged federal officials to continue to push for programs that create jobs in states and cities.

    As always, we appreciated the chance to speak with a large group of state and local elected officials. And while it was great to hear from many officials on the call, we did not get a chance to answer everyone’s questions, so we encourage you to send your questions about the debt deal, the President’s commitment to helping state and local governments, the Administration's jobs agenda, and other topics to We’ll feature responses to your questions in upcoming blog posts.

     David Agnew is a Deputy Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs


  • Mayor Rawlings-Blake Discusses Urban Policy with Administration Officials

    Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake at the White House

    Balitmore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake explains her Vacants to Value program with Administration officials. (Photo by John Doyle, July 28, 2011) July 28, 2011. (by John Doyle)

    Last Thursday, the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs hosted Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake at the White House to hear about her Vacants to Value initiative that utilizes the private market to maximize the repair and rehabilitation of blighted properties.  Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s visit was part of a series designed to bring pioneering local leaders to the White House to share ideas on city innovation with Administration officials.

    More than 40 officials from the Departments of Commerce, Energy, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, and the White House took part in the discussion with Mayor Rawlings-Blake about the challenges of urban blight.

  • Working Together for Clean Water and Strong Communities

    EPA is always looking for new ways to keep communities clean and healthy, while creating jobs and fostering economic growth. One way we’re accomplishing this goal is through innovative, sensible and cost-effective investments like green infrastructure.

    When it rains, stormwater picks up oil, pesticides and other chemicals on our streets and buildings and carries those pollutants into nearby waters. Communities have traditionally considered this stormwater to be wastewater that needs to be stored and treated – something that’s very costly to cities and towns on a budget. Green infrastructure manages stormwater by treating it like the valuable resource it is, working with Mother Nature, not against her. By using permeable pavements, rain barrels, landscape changes and other techniques, green infrastructure changes capture and filter stormwater so our waters will stay clean.

  • State and Local Officials Speak Out on Bipartisan Compromise

    On Sunday evening, President Obama announced a bipartisan deal to reduce the nation's deficit and avoid default.

    Over the past 24 hours state and local officials from across the country have spoken out about the bipartisan compromise:

    Los Angeles, California  Mayor and President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Antonio Villaraigosa:
    ”Mayors across the country urge Congress to avert an economic crisis by passing legislation today to lift the debt ceiling. This legislation will create a framework for balanced fiscal discipline, which will help instill renewed confidence in our nation’s economy.”

    California State Assembly Speaker John Pérez
    “Today’s agreement on raising the debt ceiling will prevent the paralysis of our nation’s economy and allow us to move forward on addressing our country’s priorities. Thankfully, the President has set the stage for a balanced long term solution that includes revenues. And though the specifics of the first round of savings will not be known for several weeks, we are relieved to see that there should be little if any immediate impact on the balanced and on-time state budget we passed earlier this summer. It is critical that we prevent further debilitating cuts to schools, seniors and job creation efforts."