Can You Hear Me Now?

November 23, 2011 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

Remember when you were a kid and your parents would decide where you should go and what at you should do, even though you’d like to have a little say-so in the matter. That must be how state and local government grantees feel sometimes. I’m glad to see they are trying to find a way to make their voices heard when it comes to the future of grants management streamlining and reform.

In a Nov. 17 letter to OMB Director Jacob Lew, several state and local government organizations praised the Obama administration for establishing the Council on Financial Assistance Reform to create a more streamlined and accountable structure to coordinate financial assistance. However, the groups “strongly urged” the OMB to include several representatives of both state and local government organizations in the council’s discussions.

The letter was signed by the National Governors Association; National Conference of State Legislatures; National Association of Counties; National League of Cities; U.S. Conference of Mayors; International City/County Management Association; National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers; National Association of Chief Information Officers and the National Association of State Budget Officers.

“As we learned from implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, constant and consistent communication among all stakeholder parties is required for success,” they wrote. “The lack of foresight implicit in the exclusion of state and local officials on this council undermines the important work of the council before it even commences. Improving the management of federal assistance is a joint effort, and formal engagement by all stakeholder parties is not only prudent but necessary.”

This has been a constant refrain that I’ve heard in my nine years of reporting on grants management. You’d think someone would finally get the message. Give the stakeholders a voice; it can only help.

Do you think state and local governments should be represented on the council? Why or why not? We’d be interested in hearing your opinion or suggestions.

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