Enhancing Technical Assistance to States and Cities: Four Approaches by the Federal Government

Maximizing Technical Assistance for Federal Climate Investments

Maximizing Technical Assistance for Federal Climate Investments

Introduction and Summary

Since the historic passage of the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), federal agencies have focused on deploying hundreds of billions of dollars in new climate funding as quickly as possible. However, with the 2024 elections looming over the future for both landmark pieces of legislation, there is a great urgency to advance and maximize their opportunities.

The success of the Inflation Reduction Act and IIJA heavily relies on the ability of states and local governments to access and deliver on these massive once-in-a-generation climate investments. More robust federal technical assistance infrastructure would dramatically enhance state and local government efforts to apply for and implement funding during this critical time.

Defining Technical Assistance

The authors define technical assistance as specific programmatic offerings that meet the explicit demands of implementing federal climate investments directly delivered to implementing governments by experts. According to the White House, “Technical assistance can mean different things to different people. For the purposes of this document, we define technical assistance as programs, processes, and resources that provide targeted support to a community, region, organization, or other beneficiary to help them access and deploy federal funding to deliver results.”

The Challenges and Recommendations

Challenges Confronting States and Local Governments

States and local governments often experience capacity constraints with limited staff and resources, making navigating each federal agency’s release of guidance, program, and eligibility requirements difficult. Existing federal technical assistance infrastructure falls short when it comes to identifying and working directly with small, rural, or underserved states and local governments that need it most, and the lack of timely place-based regionalized federal support creates a gap where states and local governments are left on their own to apply for and implement these investments.

The Importance of Subnational Governments

Climate leadership from U.S. subnational governments over the past decade has helped make the passage of federal climate legislation possible. Now, with states and local governments on the front lines of implementation, enhanced federal technical assistance will be important in helping them deliver and raise ambition on climate action over the coming decade and beyond.

Recommendations for Maximizing Technical Assistance

The framework proposed in “Implementing America’s clean energy Future” underpins the recommendations put forth in this report:

Provide More Flexible and Accessible Federal Technical Assistance

Successful deployment of federal climate funding is more than just about designing programs and allocating resources. Technical assistance is a critical component of effective implementation, and the federal government needs to invest time and resources to ensure technical assistance offerings help states and local governments execute and optimize federal investments.

Build Greater Regional Federal Infrastructure

With unprecedented climate funding in need of deployment, federal agencies must respond to the increased need for more state and local technical assistance, particularly by helping states and local governments deliver opportunities for the hardest to reach and most in need communities.

Leverage Nongovernmental Technical Assistance Resources

The federal government should better leverage nongovernmental technical assistance to enhance federal technical assistance infrastructure. This collaboration can provide additional support and expertise to states and local governments, improving the overall effectiveness of federal climate investments.

Funding and Responsive Implementation

Fund Responsive, Real-time Federal Technical Assistance

As critical deployment partners, states and local governments are on the front lines of implementation, and federal technical assistance resources should be flexible and responsive to meet their evolving needs and the circumstances on the ground.

Fund Federal Technical Assistance Infrastructure

Federal investment in technical assistance must be central to programs and infrastructure that actively support state and local climate action. This is a necessary precondition to scaling federal technical assistance to meet the needs of the moment.

Ensure Responsive, Real-time Technical Assistance

To maximize their effectiveness, federal technical assistance programs must be responsive to the changing circumstances on the ground and to the needs of state and local entities across the country. These needs may differ across regions and state and local jurisdictions with different characteristics.


With the urgency of climate action and the massive federal investments at stake, it is crucial for the federal government to prioritize and enhance technical assistance for states and local governments. By providing more flexible and accessible assistance, building regional infrastructure, and leveraging nongovernmental resources, the federal government can ensure that states and local governments have the support they need to effectively implement federal climate investments and achieve their decarbonization goals.

Read More of this Story at www.americanprogress.org – 2024-01-04 14:03:35

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