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Donald F. Kettl


Donald F. Kettl, a columnist for Governing, is a professor emeritus and the former dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park. Until his recent retirement, he was the Sid Richardson Professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin. He is a senior adviser at the Volcker Alliance and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Kettl, who holds a Ph.D. and master's degrees in political science from Yale University, is the author of several books, most recently The Divided States of America: Why Federalism Doesn't Work (2020) and Can Governments Earn Our Trust? (2017).

He can be reached at or on Twitter at @DonKettl.

In deploying the National Guard to the southwest border and with other actions, several Republican governors are illustrating the impact states can have on federal policies.
It's been strong for decades, but the poisonous polarization at the federal level has begun to flow downhill, threatening to undermine the service to citizens that is the foundation of that trust.
The U.S. could have done much better in battling COVID-19, preventing hundreds of thousands of deaths. But its decentralized system of governance failed to rise to the challenge.
Republican resistance isn’t just about taxes. It’s rooted in the party’s hostility toward urban initiatives that has played out on a broad range of issues.
It's been a decade since earmarks in congressional appropriations were mostly ended. A little pork-barrel spending could get Congress' wheels turning again.
They’ve been in the spotlight over the last 12 months as Washington bucked responsibility to the states. Now many of them are facing harsh critics and challenges to their power.
Supply isn't the only issue. Big logistical problems require federal leadership. How quickly can the Biden administration execute a 180-degree turnaround?
Without reinvigorating our tattered intergovernmental partnership, his administration will be doomed as it tries to tackle enormous, urgent and inescapable challenges.
He'll have his hands full from the start with issues that are likely to bring a rethinking of federal-state-local relations.
The crippled response to COVID-19 is just one example of why we need to revive our ability to sort out the roles of the federal government and the states.