We approach each of these Strategic Initiatives keeping our shared purpose in mind:

to Empower People, Improve Lives and Inspire Success.

This shared purpose, combined with our values of gratitude, curiosity, humility and courage, promises to develop a positive and innovative state government culture. At the State of North Dakota, we will Work as One, maintain a Citizen Focus, approach problems with a Growth Mindset, apply Leadership Everywhere and Make a Difference.



“To create a 21st century economy, we need to build on three pillars of economic success: a skilled workforce; smart, efficient infrastructure; and healthy, vibrant communities. By reinventing education, we will create a skilled workforce that matches the high-paying jobs of today and tomorrow. Utilizing our current infrastructure to its fullest potential, we can reduce the cost of local government and create vibrant, healthy cities.”

- Governor Doug Burgum


The Main Street Initiative will focus on utilizing existing infrastructure to its fullest potential to reduce costs and create vibrant, healthy cities. We will partner with city leaders from across the state to ensure they have the tools, programs and empowerment they need for smart, healthy growth.

The Main Street Initiative was built on a foundation of values: respect for the past, gratitude for the present, and inspiration for the future. By focusing our efforts on creating vibrant main streets with smart infrastructure, we will attract and retain a skilled workforce and realize our full potential as a state.


Main Street Progress Updates
  • Communities representing more than half a million North Dakotans are engaged in one or more of the Main Street Initiative’s four pillars, exploring what they can do to build healthy, vibrant communities with smart, efficient infrastructure to attract a 21st-century workforce. Participation continues to grow, with more than 60 communities large and small engaged in the initiative.
  • Launched the national award-winning Main Street Community Dashboard as well as the Main Street Community Leaders Peer Network to share best practices and promote learning on MSI-related topics.
  • Received the Workforce Development Council’s recommendations for addressing our workforce shortage. Governor Burgum reestablished the Council and commissioned the report in 2017, and the report is the culmination of 11 months of intense work by Council members. The report lays out options to address North Dakota’s workforce development and shortage problems, including recommendations such as lowering barriers to unemployment and developing programs to help them earn gainful employment. The full report can be found here.
  • Expanded community development programs aimed at improving main streets, public facilities and services. More than $2.3 million in funds were made available for these programs with the aid of the North Dakota Department of Commerce. At least $500,000 will be used to support the Main Street Initiative by promoting livable communities, addressing unmet community development needs and promoting activities that enhance local economic development efforts. More information on the Governor’s Fund for community Development is available here.
  • Hosted, with the North Dakota Department of Commerce, the annual Main Street ND Summit which welcomes more than 650 community members, students and state team members. Attendees learn about strategies and resources to address the three pillars of the Main Street Initiative

“We need to start treating addiction like the chronic disease that it is. By moving resources upstream, we will save lives and save money.”

- Governor Doug Burgum

As drug addiction and overdoses take their toll on North Dakota families, the state must start treating addiction differently. In 2020, 118 drug-related deaths were recorded in North Dakota, and more than $308 million was spent in the past decade to add nearly 1,300 new beds at jails at the city, county and state levels.

Many of those in our system are there because of crimes rooted in addiction. Jail time without rehab is not a cure for addiction.

Behavioral Health Progress Updates
  • Created the Office of Recovery Reinvented through an executive order. This Office is tasked with promoting efforts to eliminate the shame and stigma surrounding addiction. Addiction destroys families and communities, affecting every area of life. North Dakota is taking responsibility and further methods to combat behavioral health issues across the state. The Office of Recovery Reinvented is a seven-member advisory committee, chaired by First Lady Kathryn Burgum, that is making a difference in the lives of many. More information is available at
  • Launched the Youth Ending Stigma (YES) Challenge in partnership with the First Lady. The Challenge is designed to enable student-led initiatives and projects focused on eliminating social stigma surrounding behavioral health issues including addiction and mental health conditions. Student projects will be led from March through April of 2019. More information can be found here.
  • Hosted the first-ever Peer Support Day at the Capitol. The event saw behavioral health advocates, peer support specialists, individuals who have received peer support services, behavioral health and health care providers, state and local decision-makers and other interested individuals come together to discuss the approach and benefits of peer support and the role that it plays in recovery.
  • In partnership with the Department of Human Services’ Behavioral Health Division, we are pursuing key strategies as part of our Behavioral Health Initiative: supporting the full continuum of care, embedding services close to home and people’s natural supports to keep families together, and stop criminalizing behavioral health and divert criminal justice involvement.

“We can’t prepare our kids for the 21st century using a 19th-century model.”

- Governor Doug Burgum

With nearly all of the world’s information now available for free online, educators, parents, businesses, community organizations and legislators must all play a role in transforming the education system.

It’s not enough for students to do well on traditional measures. The challenge is how to equip them with the skills and mindsets they need to be creative problem solvers, effective communicators and informed, responsible citizens who are strong collaborators.

Transforming Education Progress Updates
  • Received final reports from the governor’s Innovative Education Task Force and the Task Force for Higher Education Governance, outlining recommendations to ensure North Dakota’s education system is positioned to excel in the 21st century.

  • Hosted a statewide Hour of Code event, encouraging the development of computer science among North Dakota’s students. While the Hour of Code event has occurred annually since 2013, North Dakota’s participation in 2018 marked the first time that a state hosted a simultaneous Hour of Code between K-12 and higher-ed students across the state. More than 6,000 students participated at nearly 100 schools in North Dakota. The event was sponsored by the State of North Dakota, local education leaders and schools, and Microsoft.

  • Announced a 100-gigabit upgrade to the state network, placing North Dakota schools and government on the leading edge of internet connectivity and speed. This upgrade will be finished in 2019 and ensures that North Dakota will be the first state to achieve 1-gigabit connectivity in every school district. This increased connectivity will open avenues to innovation for every North Dakota school, enhancing educational methods and expanding opportunities for our students. The upgrade will represent anywhere from a two- to ten-times speed increase in capacity for K-12 schools.


“I pledge my administration to a fresh start in our relations with all tribal nations who live with and among us. Our goal is to understand each tribe’s individual issues and circumstances so that we may move forward together.”

- Governor Doug Burgum

Through the course of meeting with tribal leadership from every Native American tribe headquartered in the state -- the Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation in New Town, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians in Belcourt, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in Fort Yates and Spirit Lake Nation in Fort Totten -- we continue to identify areas of opportunity for government-to-government collaboration. The issues range from water rights, taxes, emergency management and law enforcement to addiction, infrastructure, historic sites and tourism.

Collectively strengthening our tribal communities across North Dakota will happen when we genuinely engage, listen and learn about each tribe’s individual challenges and opportunities.

Tribal Engagement Progress Updates
  • Opened a first-of-its-kind conference on strengthening government-to-government partnerships between the State of North Dakota and tribal nations. Hosted by the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission, more than 300 people attended the annual two-day conference, including tribal leaders, elders and other members, dozens of leaders and staff from various state agencies, state legislators and federal partners.
  • Burgum joined Chairman Mark Fox of the MHA Nation in signing a memorandum of understanding under which the state will recognize motor vehicle license plates and registrations issued by the MHA Nation to its enrolled members residing within its jurisdictional boundaries. 
  • Laid the groundwork for tax revenue-sharing legislation through the work of the interim Tribal Taxation Issues Committee, which Gov. Burgum chaired and on which Lt. Gov. Sanford also served.
  • A memorandum of understanding was signed between the State of North Dakota Information Technology (NDIT) department and MHA Nation to provide managed security services for the purpose of protecting the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of tribal information systems and data.
  • The North Dakota Highway Patrol entered agreements with the MHA Nation and Spirit Lake Nation to enhance emergency response on the reservations. The agreements allow the closest available peace officer to respond to an emergency call for service until the agency with primary jurisdiction arrives and assumes the lead. The agreements to allow mutual aid across reservation boundaries was made possible by legislation signed in 2019 and 2021. 

“Anything being done simply because ‘that’s the way we have always done it’ should be and must be rigorously and respectfully questioned. And no matter what, we must have the courage to admit that we can always do better.”

- Governor Doug Burgum

We have an opportunity to reinvent state government and embrace technology to hold down costs and build an economy and workforce for the 21st century.

These powerful technological forces are fueling an underlying change in our economy and will challenge all of our existing approaches, systems and institutions. Harnessing these forces can lead to lower costs and better outcomes in health care, education and infrastructure. And these areas are some of the biggest cost drivers of our state budget. To do that we need a culture in state government focused on the willingness to grow and change and leaders who will lead us through that change.

Reinventing Government Progress Updates
  • Fulfilled the administration’s goal to use technology to boost transparency. The state Office of Management and Budget (OMB) completed a major upgrade to the transparency section of its website, creating a more user-friendly experience for citizens searching for budget data, vendor contracts, fund balances and other financial information about state government.
  • Fulfilled another pledge by taking several steps to improve the state’s revenue forecasting system, making it more accurate and ensuring taxpayer resources are being used most efficiently.
  • Continued to drive a “work as one” culture in state government through human resources unification and streamlining HR policies; more robust leadership training and team member development opportunities; and greater cross-agency and cross-branch collaboration through regular XCL (Extended Cabinet Leadership) and JEL (Judicial, Executive, Legislative) meetings.
  • Supported the K-20W “Every Student, Every Class, Cyber Educated” initiative, a multi-faceted, comprehensive approach to computer science and cybersecurity education and workforce training. North Dakota will be the first state in the nation with integrated cybersecurity and computer science K-12 standards.
  • Launched Vision Zero as the state’s primary traffic safety initiative with the state Department of Transportation, Highway Patrol and Department of Health. The goal of the comprehensive effort is to continually work toward zero motor vehicle fatalities and serious injuries on North Dakota roads.