States are stronger when they collaborate to solve shared policy problems. Supporting military families, organizing the use of water resources and expanding access to telehealth services are among the key areas that transcend state borders. State coordination can be effective, but it requires a deliberate and detailed recognition of state differences and the ability to structure interstate agreements in a way that promotes mutual, long-term success.
To achieve these goals, states can leverage the power of interstate agreements. Interstate compacts are legislatively enacted agreements involving two or more states or territories or Washington D.C. Compacts are a primary tool states use to collaborate on shared policy issues. These agreements are versatile in nature and can help states:
- Settle interstate disputes.
- Respond to national priorities in cooperation with federal agencies.
- Maintain sovereignty in matters reserved to states.
- Create economies of scale to reduce administrative costs.
- Address regional issues affecting multiple states.
There are more than 200 active interstate compacts. They have been commonly used by states to coordinate and collaborate on issues such as natural resource sharing, workforce and education policies and health care delivery.
To help states develop, implement and sustain interstate compacts, CSG established The National Center for Interstate Compacts. NCIC is the only technical assistance provider on interstate compacts in the U.S. NCIC is a clearinghouse of compact information and provides educational and consulting services to states. States and stakeholder groups can engage with NCIC if they are interested in learning more about existing compacts or want to get involved with new compact efforts.
NCIC Project Example – Occupational Licensure Compacts
NCIC is working with federal and state partners and profession stakeholder groups to create new occupational licensure compacts. Occupational licensure compacts are mechanisms to help licensed professionals — particularly health care providers — work in multiple states. The compacts help states provide greater access to services, reduce administrative burdens and strengthen the protection of public health and safety.
The Department of Defense partnered with The Council of State Governments in 2021 through a cooperative agreement to fund and support the development of new interstate compacts for occupational licensure. The specific goal of this partnership is to provide greater license mobility for families of military personnel. This population moves often and faces challenges in being able to practice their profession in their new states. Current occupational licensure compacts under development include dentistry, cosmetology, teaching, massage therapy, dietetic nutrition, social work and school psychologists.
CSG is also working with stakeholder groups on the formation and administration of new compacts for audiology and speech language pathology, physician assistants/associates, occupational therapy and counseling.
For additional information on upcoming and developed compacts, visit www.compacts.csg.org or connect on Instagram @csgcompacts or Twitter @csg_compacts.