Justice, Fairness, Inclusion, and Performance.


Significant Features of American Federalism is an initiative of the National Academy of Public Administration Standing Panel of Intergovernmental Systems. The Standing Panel is co-chaired by Shelley Metzenbaum and Mark Pisano.

The preparation of Significant Features of American Federalism was led by Jamie Boex. The development of Significant Features was guided by a working group consisting of John Bartle, Jamie Boex, Mark Pisano and Barry Van Lare. 

Substantial research support was provided by Mackenzie Maschka (University of Nebraska – Omaha). 


From the 1960s through the 1990s, a data publication called Significant Features of Fiscal Federalism informed intergovernmental relations in the United States. The earlier version of Significant Features was published by the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR). ACIR was an independent, bipartisan intergovernmental agency established in 1959 with a mission to “strengthen the American federal system and improve the ability of federal, state, and local governments to work together cooperatively, efficiently, and effectively.” Significant Features was last published in 1995 as the Commission was terminated and ceased operations in September of 1996.

The National Academy of Public Administration launched Federalism.US and Significant Features of American Federalism in July 2020 in order to perform the same function that Significant Features of Fiscal Federalism played to a previous generation of policy makers and researchers: to lower the threshold for evidence-based policy making and research on intergovernmental policy issues by pulling together available federal-, state- and local- level data on federalism and intergovernmental relations in the United States.

In contrast to ACIR’s earlier publication, the online Significant Features of American Federalism data book considers the significant features of four key dimensions of American Federalism: (1) Federalism and Intergovernmental Architecture (Institutional Features); (2) Federal, State and Local Democracy and Representation (Governance Features); (2) Public Sector Performance & Intergovernmental Solutions (Administrative Features); and (4) Fiscal Federalism & Intergovernmental Finance (Fiscal Features).