Presidential Memorandum on Administrative Flexibility
In February 2011, President Obama released a Presidential Memorandum on Administrative Flexibility, charging all agencies with aligning administrative and regulatory requirements to allow States, localities, or tribes to target funds toward coordinated efforts to achieve specific outcomes within a specific geographic community. As articulated in the guidance the White House Office of Management and Budget sent to federal agencies on how they should implement the President's Memorandum, their goal is not "flexibility for flexibility's sake"; it is to provide flexibility when it will enable State and local governments to focus more attention and resources on efforts that will improve outcomes. They will be selecting three to five high impact areas where new intergovernmental and cross agency cooperation could yield significantly improved outcomes.
As part of the Forum's June 2011 Children’s Cabinet Symposium, we brought a delegation of state children’s cabinet directors to meet with senior officials from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Justice. The federal officials reported that while they often hear from states and localities that Federal agencies won’t allow them to collaborate, they had been having trouble identifying specific policy barriers. They were very excited about the potential of partnering with the Forum and our Children’s Cabinet Network to identify actual specific policy barriers, as well as to work with them to remove policy barriers at both the federal and state levels simultaneously.
At OMB’s request, we worked with the Children’s Cabinet Network to identify a few areas in which a collective effort to remove barriers would have a dramatic effect on child and youth outcomes. The resulting letter and paper, Recommendations for Administrative Flexibility, identified barriers across a range of child and youth outcomes (everything from early childhood to youth in residential treatment centers). Feedback from the administration suggested that there would likely be the most momentum around disconnected youth, so we prepared a second paper, Recommendations for Administrative Flexibility: Supporting Interagency Efforts to Reconnect Disconnected Youth.
On August 11, the Forum hosted a meeting with the White House Office of Management and Budget to discuss barriers to collaborative work for disconnected youth, and possible solutions. Attendees included key officials from:
- The White House's Domestic Policy Council, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, and the White House Council on Community Solutions;
- Assistant secretaries/deputy assistant secretaries from the departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Department of Labor, Department of Justice, Office of National Drug Control Policy, and around 40 other federal officials;
- Governor’s Children’s Cabinet Directors (and around 50 of their state government colleagues) from Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Nevada, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The meeting yielded strong interest among both federal and state participants, and work is currently underway to explore ways to implement selected recommendations.