White House To Get New Intergovernmental Affairs Director

With Cecilia Muñoz in a new position, it's unclear who will take the reins at IGA.
by | January 11, 2012

Cecilia Muñoz, who leads the White House office that serves as liaison to state and local governments, is leaving her position for a larger role in the administration.

The White House announced yesterday that  Muñoz will take over as director of Domestic Policy Council, where she will serve as one of the president's closest advisers.

Muñoz, who has led the small White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs since the start of the administration, also held the position of deputy assistant to the president. She's played a prominent role in shaping the administration's approach to immigration policy.

Muñoz will immediately begin the transition to her new role and will not retain her position as director of IGA. A new IGA director has not yet been named.

“Over the past three years, Cecilia has been a trusted adviser who has demonstrated sound judgment day in and day out,” President Obama said in a statement. “Cecilia has done an extraordinary job working on behalf of middle class families, and I’m confident she’ll bring the same unwavering dedication to her new position.”

Last year, Governing profiled  Muñoz's office and found that state and local officials who interact with it-- including Republicans -- generally gave it high marks. Under Muñoz's leadership the office has been more responsive than it ever was during the Bush administration, they said, and it often leads detailed, substantive discussions with state and local leaders.

But those same leaders also questioned how effective IGA really is at advancing the interests of states and localities, and they suggested that at times, IGA has been mostly concerned with propping up President Obama's image.

Organizations representing state and local governments praised the White House for tapping Muñoz for the job. Michael Bird, federal affairs counsel at the National Conference of State Legislatures, tells Governing that the move is likely good news for state and local governments. They'll benefit by having someone who is familiar with their issues shaping domestic policy, he says.

Muñoz takes over a position previously held by Melody Barnes, who left the job at the end of 2011.

The promotion was announced a day after another big personnel change: Chief of Staff William Daley's resignation and subsequent replacement with budget director Jacob Lew.

A Detroit native, Muñoz is the daughter of Bolivian immigrants. Before she joined the administration, she had a leadership role with the the Latino civil rights group National Council of La Raza. In 2000, she won a MacArthur Foundation fellowship -- known as the "genius grant" -- for her work on civil rights and immigration issues.

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