Intergovernmental Agreement Defined

... Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

An intergovernmental agreement is any agreement that involves or is made between two or more governments to cooperate in some specific way.

1 Purpose

Most intergovernmental agreements are made to upgrade services, consolidate resources and save money through economies of scale.

2 Scope

Intergovernmental agreements can be made between or among a broad range of governmental or quasi-governmental entities, such as two or more counties, two or more municipalities, a municipality and a school district, and a city and a university.

3 Example 1

A typical intergovernmental agreement might involve a contract between two small cities to share police, fire and paramedic services.

4 Example 2

Two counties agree to share library services, issuing a joint library card and swapping books back and forth. The full services of every library in the system are available to all card-holding residents of both counties.

5 Benefits

Intergovernmental agreements can improve services, save money through economies of scale, and lead to a culture of inter-community cooperation in many areas.

6 Drawbacks

Intergovernmental agreements, by consolidating resources, can reduce local control. This loss of some local control, combined with, in some cases, longer emergency response times, can produce a voter backlash, especially if not accompanied by commensurate local tax reductions.

Timothy Dodson, a freelance writer and editor, was a journalist for 35 years at five newspapers, including the South Florida Sun Sentinel, where he twice won Florida first prizes for commentary and editorials. He has a master's degree in English language and literature from the State University of New York.