Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Signing the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act

October 16, 1968

Senator Mustkie, Governor Bryant, Governor Volpe, Governor Daniel, Members of Congress, ladies and gentlemen:

We have come here this afternoon to complete another chapter in our long quest for a more cooperative and creative Federal system. The great legislative enactments of recent years--in education, housing, law enforcement. and health--all depend for their success on the closest cooperation between Washington and our State and city governments.

That is why we are here today, to put a new law on the books that will strengthen and streamline the Federal system of intergovernmental action.

I am pleased that Senator Muskie could be with us this afternoon. I believe that no man has done more to encourage cooperation among the National Government, the States, and the cities. I am pleased that Governor Daniel could get Governor Bryant and Governor Volpe back here. They have been very cooperative with me in the entire 5 years of my Presidency.

I think it is well for us to stop awhile at this period and recall some things that can be lost in the noise of an election campaign-all the quieter days and patient nights that have gone before, when men of strong faith and men of large vision worked at the hard and unglamorous job of passing good laws for good people; all the unseen and unsung qualities that call a man to that task can sustain that man in public office.

The Intergovernmental Cooperation Act is the fruit of such labor. It will bring:

--simplified and more flexible administration of hundreds of Federal grants to the States;

--better information to Governors and State legislators concerning these grants;

--improved regional and local planning;

--new ways for Federal agencies to share their special skills and knowledge with State and local governments.

Some 4 years ago, I asked for the strengthening of "the constructive relationships between Nation, State, and city--the creative federalism which is essential to progress." I think--and I really believe--that the Governors of our States and the mayors of our cities would today agree that our success has been one of the great achievements of this administration.

But success asks greater success--especially in the improvement of employee training and personnel administration in State and local governments. This act will help to achieve that by authorizing Federal agencies to furnish reimbursable technical services to States and cities--under terms that mean support and not control; help and not restraint.

Among other cooperative services, this measure presents the opportunity to admit State and local personnel into Federal training programs at a fraction of the cost it would take these jurisdictions to develop their own. But even more is needed, along the lines proposed by this administration in the Intergovernmental Personnel Act.

It passed the Senate, but was not acted on in the House. That measure would authorize badly needed grants to States and local units to strengthen their training and personnel program. One of the great strengths of this administration and one of the great pleasures of this Presidency has been the training and the personnel programs that have been conducted under the wise and good leadership of John Macy and the members of the Civil Service Commission.

That measure would give us, with the passage of Title 9 of the Higher Education Amendments and the Intergovernmental Act, a very genuine opportunity to equip the State and local governments with the qualified men and the qualified women who will make grass roots administration practical, and will make it work.

We have had hundreds of topflight employees, carefully screened and selected, brought into the Federal service through Mr. Macy's personnel department. Now, if we can find a way to exchange these employees and cooperate with the States and the city governments, we can, someday, have a real merit career system for all public employees in this country.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 5:45 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Senator Edmund S. Muskie of Maine, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations which drafted the bill, Farris Bryant, former Director of the Office of Economic Planning and former Governor of Florida, John A. Volpe, Governor of Massachusetts and Chairman of the 1968 National Governors' Conference, and Price Daniel, Director of the Office of Economic Planning and former Governor of Texas. During his remarks the President referred to John W. Macy, Jr., Chairman of the Civil Service Commission.

As enacted, the bill (S. 698) is Public Law 90-577 (82 Stat. 1098).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Signing the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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