U.S. DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR

U.S.
DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR
OFFICE OF INSULAR AFFAIRS
Washington, D.C. 

News Release January 21, 2000 

U.S. PREPARES TO WORK WITH ISLANDS ON POLICY ISSUES 

The Interior Department’s Insular Affairs Director, Danny Aranza, will leave Sunday for Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands to discuss insular participation in President Clinton’s initiative to improve Federal policy concerning the three areas and the U.S. Virgin Islands with Governors Carl Gutierrez, Tau’ese Sunia, and Pedro A. Tenorio. 

The discussions are a prelude to a meeting being planned next month of the Interagency Group on Insular Areas (IGIA) the President recently created.  Similar discussions will be held with the Congressional Delegates and Virgin Islands Governor Charles Turnbull. 

Aranza called the initiative an historic step forward in Federal-insular relations.  He said it reflects the President’s commitment to maximize the areas’ opportunity to influence Federal policy as it is developed and implemented. 

Aranza’s trip comes on the heels of a major meeting at the White House of the senior Clinton Administration officials named to the IGIA. 

Aranza said he will be on Guam and Saipan early next week to begin inviting insular officials to brief the IGIA in Washington next month.  Deputy Insular Affairs Director Sandra King will travel to Capitol Hill and the Virgin Islands on a similar mission. 

The IGIA will increase Federal attention to and understanding of insular issues, Aranza said.  “What we want and need now is input from the islands about what they view as their major Federal concerns.  We are eager to hear their suggestions on how these issues can best be addressed or avoided,” he added. 

“We fully recognize that the vast size of the Federal Government and the relatively unique situations of the areas makes it impossible for all Federal officials to be aware of insular problems.  Our main focus will be to help the islands cut through the red tape and often conflicting rules and regulations that have frustrated them.” 

The IGIA is co-chaired by Interior Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget John Berry and Jeffrey Farrow, who is also Co-Chair of the President’s Interagency Group on Puerto Rico.  It includes officials from White House offices as well as all Federal Cabinet agencies. 

For additional information, contact: Roger Stillwell TEL (Washington, DC):  (202) 208-5344

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