Saturday, March 27, 2021 - 02:25 pm

BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum is urging the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to abandon its plan to change the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) criteria, which would cause Bismarck and Grand Forks to lose their MSA designation and risk access to federal funding and information.

In a letter Friday to OMB Deputy Director Dominic Mancini, Burgum said North Dakota “strongly opposes” OMB’s proposed revised criteria for MSA designation, which would increase the minimum urban area population from 50,000 to 100,000. The proposed change would remove the MSA designation for Grand Forks and Bismarck and put MSA designation further out of reach for the growing city of Minot.

“Removing the MSA designation from these cities would be detrimental to policymakers, private industry and our state,” Burgum stated, noting the proposal fails to consider the downstream impact to affected communities. “Without defining the downstream application of this proposed change, those smaller MSAs will be at risk of losing funding from federal programmatic agencies as well as information from federal statistical agencies. This could put heavily rural areas of the country such as North Dakota at a disadvantage to those areas that retain more MSA designations under this proposal.”

“Without accounting for these impacts and defining how the change in MSA criteria will be implemented, the uncertainty and risk to smaller MSAs is unacceptable,” Burgum added. “We urge the Office of Management and Budget to abandon this course of action and retain its existing MSA designation criteria.”