Magazine article Policy & Practice

APHSA Recommends Guidance for Presidential Memorandum on Administrative Flexibility

Magazine article Policy & Practice

APHSA Recommends Guidance for Presidential Memorandum on Administrative Flexibility

Article excerpt

On February 28, 2011, President Obama issued a memorandum directing all departments and agencies of the federal government to work with state, local and tribal governments to reduce "onerous administrative burdens and regulatory requirements to achieve better outcomes at lower costs." Labeled as the Administration's plan to "cut red tape, give states flexibility, and save money," the memo instructs the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to lead a coordinated process among federal, state, local and tribal governments that will streamline procedures across agency, program and geographic boundaries. Agencies are to work closely with these various levels of government to identify administrative, regulatory and legislative barriers in federally funded programs that currently prevent them from efficiently using tax dollars to achieve the best results for their constituents.

Additionally, the President directs OMB to review guidance regarding cost principles and audits for state, local and tribal governments to eliminate unnecessary, unduly burdensome or low-priority record-keeping requirements and to tie requirements to achievement of outcomes. OMB must also standardize and streamline reporting and planning requirements in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act to develop efficient, low-cost mechanisms for collecting and reporting data and preparing expenditure plans that can support multiple programs and agencies, and must facilitate cost-efficient modernization of state and tribal information systems. Agencies are to report back within 180 days of the memorandum to identify areas that can be streamlined or eliminated, and where increased state flexibility could achieve the same or better results at a lower cost. The memo is posted at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press - office/2 011/02/28/fact-sheetwin-states-and-taxpayers-presidentobamas-plan-cut-red-tape-g/.

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On March 25, APHSA and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) sponsored a symposium with officials from OMB and other federal agencies that largely focused on the memorandum and the recommendations states have for guidance to federal agencies on complying with the report, which is due back to OMB at the end of August. A number of state and local health and human service commissioners attended the symposium, and many believed the meeting marked a significant milestone in clarifying some long-standing barriers to flexibility and efficiency and in identifying achievable solutions to those barriers. OMB issued its guidance memorandum on April 29. This memo is posted at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/2011/mll-21.pdf/.

On April 15, APHSA Executive Director Tracy Wareing wrote a letter (co-signed by Doug Robinson, NASCIO president) to OMB Controller Danny Werfel that formalized the March 25 meeting's discussion and provided further input on a suggested structure for state and federal dialogue on issues raised by the White House memo. The letter recommends a state and local health and human service consultation group that is patterned after the successful Collaborative Forum model used under the Partnership Fund for Program Integrity Innovation; Wareing is interim co-chair of the forum. State commissioners would act as the formal voice of the states with association staff carrying out day-to-day communication and work tasks. …

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