Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, February 23, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Areas Tony Babauta convened the 2010 Principals' Meeting of the IGIA. The IGIA was first created by President Bill Clinton in 1999 to address policies concerning American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The IGIA continued in the Administration of President George W. Bush and remains in existence under President Barack Obama.
The IGIA is currently chaired by the Secretary of the Interior and is comprised of representatives from every Federal agency. Tuesday marked the second meeting convened under Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar's leadership, and the first chaired by Assistant Secretary Babauta on behalf of Secretary Salazar.
"The IGIA is meant to be a forum to the islands' Chief Executives, its Members of Congress, and other elected officials when it comes to navigating the Federal government bureaucracy," stated Babauta. "After today's meeting, my hope is that the members of the IGIA are renewed in focus, energy, and purpose to carry out the change needed to improve the lives of our fellow Americans living in American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. I am impressed by the strong participation of my Federal partners in the IGIA and my staff and I look forward to working collaboratively with them on issues with respect to each of the Insular Areas," said Mr. Babauta.
Among the various issues reported on by the Federal partners of the IGIA were: Renewable Energy Initiatives for the U.S. Virgin Islands under Energy's Energy Development in Island Nations, Extension of U.S. Immigration Law in the Northern Mariana Islands; USDA Funding and Economic Development Opportunities; ARRA Stabilization Funding to the Territories; HUD's overview of 2009 insular programs and response to tsunami disaster in American Samoa; the Interagency Coordinated Assets for Insular Health Response, Veterans' Benefits for veterans from the insular areas; current law and changes proposed in health reform with respect to Medicaid in the Territories. A separate meeting was also held to discuss the latest concerns with respect to the Military Buildup and Relocation to Guam and the CNMI.
Some notable Federal participants at the 2010 IGIA Principals' Meeting were:
- Hon. Cecilia Muñoz, Director, White House Intergovernmental Affairs
- Hon. Nancy Sutley, Chair, White House Council on Environmental Quality
- Dr. Dorothy Robyn, Undersecretary of Defense
- Hon. Cynthia Giles, Deputy Administrator for EPA
- Hon. Victor Vasquez, Deputy Undersecretary of USDA
- Hon. Wallace Gregson, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security
- Hon. Juliette Kayyem, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Intergovernmental Affairs
- Ms. Emily Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Veterans' Affairs for Intergovernmental Affairs
- Ms. Kiran Ahuja, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.