Executive Director’s Notebook: A Team Effort

By Jim Ogsbury

As you can well imagine, these are stressful times for Western Governors. The burden of leadership is especially heavy during times of crisis.

Fortunately, Western Governors need not confront the current public health threat alone. They have each other. And they have partners in the federal government who are dedicated to delivering aid and assistance to the state leaders on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle.

In recent years, one of the highest policy priorities of Western Governors has been to strengthen the state-federal relationship. Accordingly, they have worked tirelessly to develop functional partnerships with federal agencies. Recent events have validated those efforts.

Under the auspices of Reimagining the Rural West, the WGA Chair initiative of North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, the Association recently hosted a webinar entitled, COVID-19 Economic Impacts and Mitigation in Rural Communities. The program featured regional leaders of federal agencies, who described how they are working with states to alleviate the pandemic’s impacts on rural residents, protect local businesses and help local economies rebound from the current crisis. The Deputy Under Secretary of the Department of Agriculture moderated a dynamic discussion among Regional Directors and Administrators of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Small Business Administration and Environmental Protection Agency, as well as their counterparts from the Departments of Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development.

WGA is building upon our cooperative work with these and other agencies to fashion a more productive state-federal paradigm. For example, we are engaging with certain federal economic development agencies to design a framework for future coordination of state and federal efforts to promote prosperity in the rural West.

The COVID-19 crisis has clearly illustrated the criticality of state-federal cooperation. As stated by Western Governors in WGA Policy Resolution 2020-01, Strengthening the State-Federal Relationship:

"A good faith partnership between states and the federal government will result in more efficient, economic, effective, and durable policy, benefiting the Governors’ and the federal government’s shared constituents and resulting in a nation that is stronger, more resilient, and more united."

Jim Ogsbury is the Executive Director of the Western Governors' Association. Contact him at 303-623-9378 or send an email. Get the latest news about the West and its governors by following the Western Governors' Association on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

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