March 18, 2010
The Louisiana Association of Planning and Development Districts advocates and works on behalf of its member parishes and municipalities to improve communications and cooperation among Federal Agencies and state/local governments in Post Disaster Economic Recovery. Communication vehicles between different federal agencies and between different levels of government need to be improved, particularly when the local community is receiving federal assistance from multiple agencies. Government agencies often need to improve its efforts of standing operating procedures. This is particularly true in the case of a catastrophe, where communications, collaborations and cooperation will go a long way in spurring recovery while ensuring government funds are used in an efficient manner. Local officials believe there could be improvement in the coordination of efforts on the ground between local, state and federal levels of government. Different levels of government need to understand the roles and responsibilities of one another. If we understand that disasters impact communities in unique ways and that local communities have different socio-political structures that will influence the effectiveness of recovery policies and programs, then local officials need to be at the negotiating table with federal/state government agencies at an early stage. Local input is critical in adjusting federal regulations to meet local conditions. Open and frequent communication between different agencies and different levels of government will facilitate the development of appropriate policies, programs and initiatives to spur community recovery.
LAPDD will ensure that these communications are carried out through memorandums of understanding (MOU’s) and/or letters of intent between Federal and State agencies. These MOU’s/letters of intent designate the major partners up front and can help to clarify roles and responsibilities. Bringing both the state and local counterparts to the negotiating table, these federal inter-agency agreements can play a vital role in developing strong partnerships between different levels of government. It also helps to ensure that recovery efforts are not duplicated but are better aligned.
In addition, we enjoy functional and working relationships with partners who have invested resources in LAPDD to advance resiliency. This includes: Economic Development Administration (through the Austin Regional Office) Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (through Environmental Protection Agency Region VI funding).
IMCAL staff prepared a written Mutual Aid Agreement. This agreement would be signed by all 8 planning districts within the state. The agreement provides an outline of action steps that can be taken by each planning district to render aid to other planning districts in time of need. It would establish lines of communication, help in disseminating responsibility, and promoting cooperation among the planning districts in time of an emergency.