Federalism Vs Confederalism
Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) is the workings of the federal government that includes interactions among national, state and local governments. It encompasses regulation, allocation of funds, and the process of data analysis. The study of intergovernmental relations involves comprehending the complexities of the federal system based on mutual interdependence, shared functions, and intertwined influence (Stillman, 2010). Intergovernmental management is the most effective when studied under the cooperative federalism model. They needed better intergovernmental coordination across all programs and levels of government.
Cooperative Federalism was most successful at intergovernmental relations because it sorted out functions and expanded federal grant systems. The surge in complex programs strained administrative relationships, prompted reforms and a rise in intergovernmental tensions. The Intergovernmental Cooperation Act of 1968 promoted greater involvement by state and local elected officials. The new approach created flexible and decentralized new federalism (Stillman, 2010, p.124). For example, Public Health programs are a part of intergovernmental cooperation.
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Opportunism made its way when the federal-state-local relations wanted to move from relying heavily on grants and incentives. They wanted to implement a plan that limited the authority of state and local government. More federal obligation and regulation created a more coercive federalism; this created a spectrum for the behavioral aspects of modern intergovernmental relations. Opportunistic actors especially states flexed power on local governments when they funneled direct federal grants from their intended purpose to serve other means. Cooperative federalism actively encourages joint intergovernmental action and emphasized shared goals across the federal system. In modern federalism conservatives tend to block all progressive policy and enhance their flexibility in the intergovernmental relations system. The adoption of the Unfounded Mandates Reform Act 1995 (Stillman, 2010, p.125) is an example. Yet still we see every state acting for themselves, this has been coined as the “cut the best deal you can” form of federalism.
These types of federalism gain and lose their prominence over time. Cooperative framework started to unravel when the density of conflict and concern grew bigger, mainly within the grant and aid system (Stillman, 2010). This drove IGR systems toward a more opportunistic model of federalism. The creation of preemptions and uneven efforts of actors and delegation shifted from cooperative to opportunistic. Government saw a switch from intergovernmental relations management to performance management.
When cooperative federalism dwindle down individuals lean towards a more opportunistic federalism to place individual political and jurisdiction interest above all shared goals, this increases at every government level (Stillman, 2010, p.125). Local responsibilities overwhelmed the normative constraints of traditional responsibilities. Opportunistic federalism puts more emphasis on processed-based systems failing to realize the pros of a system without one.
Case Study 5 “Wichita Confronts Contamination” illustrates the characteristics and issues in intergovernmental relations. The move from cooperative federalism to opportunistic federalism negatively impacted the functions on IGR. The failure of having a consensus that involved intergovernmental regulations would have negatively impacted the city manager and he would have been unable to implement the developed plan. The option of a superfund was not beneficial because it would have added more cost and the cleanup would have been longer, this created a more opportunistic approach because if implemented the agencies would have rushed to try and act in their best interest. Political negotiation between the city manager and city county council created a policy where the state was placed in charge of watching the clean-up process, this kept a check and balance system of the localities. Coalition building and bargaining between various agencies such as the city council, Environmental Protection Agency and the city manager in intergovernmental relations was the ultimate solution to the problem. It would have been impossible for the city manager to reach positive outcomes without negotiating and cooperation. The political aspect of intergovernmental regulations was also present in the facilitation of the source of the funds that were to be allocated for the cleanup of the site. After the implementation of the plan, there was more active dialogue about how the city would be redeveloped to guarantee that it had a better idea of leading business.