Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he participated in the Interagency Group on Insular Areas (IGIA) meeting held on February 24, 2009, convened by the Office of Insular Affairs, Department of Interior (DOI). The meeting was also attended by Governor Togiola Tulafono of American Samoa, the Governors and Members of Congress representing the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and Virgin Islands, and representatives of many Federal departments.
Chaired by Secretary Salazar of Department of Interior (DOI), the IGIA meeting provided a forum for discussion of many issues pertinent to the four territories – American Samoa, CNMI, Guam, and Virgin Islands.
The IGIA was first established by President Clinton in 1999 to work directly with the Secretary of the Interior and the White House Intergovernmental Affairs to identify issues concerning the four territories and to make recommendations to the President concerning Federal Government policies and programs raising such issues. In addition, the IGIA was to consult with the Governors, Delegates to the U.S. House of Representatives and other elected representatives of the insular areas on issues of concern. Furthermore, Federal departments and agencies were also to coordinate significant decisions and activities related to the insular areas with the IGIA. In 2003, President Bush revisited the IGIA concept and as a result established the IGIA within DOI.
“Conceptually, the IGIA provides a great opportunity to better coordinate federal policies with territorial initiatives to effectively address issues that are critical to the territories,” Faleomavaega said. “However, for the past several years, the IGIA has become a forum for consultations and sharing of information on territorial issues but when it comes to producing results and outcomes, IGIA has been ineffective. I was pleased to hear Governor Togiola raising a similar concern about the IGIA.”
“Recognizing that Tuesday’s meeting was the first IGIA meeting held by the new Administration, and also realizing the importance of starting fresh, I suggested to Secretary Salazar that we should set up a Task Force to review the Executive Order that established the IGIA and to address some of the gaps in the IGIA structure and processes. The Secretary was receptive to my suggestions and is committed to looking into ways the IGIA can be reformed. I look forward to working with Secretary Salazar as he undertakes this important initiative, and I also welcome him as the new U.S. Secretary of the Interior. His appointment is good news for the Territories,” Faleomavaega concluded.
Photo 1: Congressman Faleomavaega and Secretary Ken Salazar of Department of Interior.
Photo 2: Gov. Togiola Tulafono, Secretary Ken Salazar, and Congressman Faleomavaega.
Photo 3: U.S. Insular Areas leaders at the IGIA meeting (L to R): Congressman Gregorio Sablan (CNMI), Congressman Faleomavaega (AS), Gov. Benigno Fitial (CNMI), Gov. Togiola Tulafono (AS), Sec. Ken Salazar (DOI), Gov. John deJongh (USVI), Congresswoman Donna Christensen (USVI), Gov. Felix Camacho (GU), and Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (GU).