Great Lakes Interagency Task Force
Report to the President on the Implementation of the Great Lakes Executive Order
Executive Order 13340 (E.O. or the Order) was signed on May 18, 2004, and established a Great Lakes Interagency Task Force (IATF, or the Task Force) and a Regional Working Group (RWG). The IATF meets regularly to carry out the directives of this Order, and the RWG has been meeting weekly via conference call to coordinate Great Lakes programs and projects, to share information pursuant to the Great Lakes, and to carry out other functions as required by this Order.
The first year of the Task Force was spent working on high priority issues needing interagency cooperation such as the Interagency Snakehead Response, the Illinois Sanitary and Ship Canal Dispersal Barrier, implementing the Legacy Act to clean up Areas of Concern, focusing on Lake Erie research priorities, continuing to coordinate with Canadian counterpart agencies, and identifying future areas where interagency coordination would improve the delivery of programs and decision-making in the Great Lakes Basin. Several of these urgent and pressing issues that are being addressed by the Task Force--including the Dispersal Barrier and Legacy Act--were highlighted in the U.S. Ocean Action Plan. These projects, along with more than 130 other interagency initiatives, have been documented in an Interagency Project Matrix that is being updated and used as a tool to promote improved management of Great Lakes programs.
Another priority was to establish a “Great Lakes Regional Collaboration of National Significance” (GLRC). The GLRC was launched in December of 2004 after considerable outreach and discussion with Great Lakes governmental partners at the state, local and tribal levels, key Great Lakes organizations, and stakeholders. The GLRC is governed by an Executive Committee that oversees the effort to develop a strategic plan for improving the Great Lakes ecosystem.
The Federal government strongly believes that this strategy should focus on what can be accomplished within current budget projections. All levels of government provide substantial resources to the Great Lakes. For instance, the Federal government alone expects to provide approximately $5 billion over the next ten years to Great Lakes water quality activities. The scope of the strategic plan should focus on prioritizing and coordinating these substantial resources across all of the Collaboration partners. The expected Federal funds, coordinated with more than $100 million provided annually by numerous State, local, and tribal government Great Lakes programs, will make measurable progress in protecting and restoring the region's ecosystems.
The current draft of the GLRC’s strategic plan, released on July 7, 2005, does not take into account the ongoing Federal, state, tribal, and local investments in the Great Lakes and how to focus those substantial resources to maximize results. Instead, the GLRC proposed to rely almost entirely on new Federal funding, totaling approximately $3 billion annually, along with new legislation and programs to address identified problems.
The members of the Interagency Task Force have serious concerns with the direction of the GLRC's draft strategy, and strongly urge the GLRC to focus on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of existing programs, based on likely spending levels and shared responsibilities. At this time, the IATF does not endorse the draft, but will work to improve it. The IATF is hopeful that, over the coming weeks, it can reach agreement with its GLRC partners on a shared strategic direction for Great Lakes restoration. This effort will help guide restoration activities at all levels of government and by the private sector over the coming years, and provide an important tool for the Administration and Congress to use to weigh competing priorities within the Federal budget.
The IATF has made several recommendations as part of this report. The first is that consideration be given to include other departments as part of the IATF and/or RWG. The second is that consideration be given to developing a future plan for the Collaboration and other work required by this Order.
Full Text of
Report [PDF 456KB 74 pp]
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