Called a "think tank" or "think-and-do tank" by some, the TACIR provides a future-oriented perspective to public policy and intergovernmental relations, constantly attempting early identification and diagnosis of policy problems that loom on the horizon. To facilitate the achievement of its mission and goals, the TACIR is directed by statute to:
- engage in activities, studies, and investigations necessary for the accomplishment of the Commission's mission and goals;
- consider, on its own initiative, ways of fostering better relations among local governments and state government;
- draft and disseminate legislative bills, constitutional amendments, and model ordinances necessary to implement the Commission's recommendations;
- encourage and, where appropriate, coordinate studies relating to intergovernmental relations conducted by universities, state, local, and federal agencies, and research and consulting organizations;
- review the recommendations of national commissions studying federal, state, and local government relations and problems and assess their possible application to Tennessee;
- study the fiscal relationships between the federal government and Tennessee's state and local governments;
- study tax equivalent payments by municipally-owned electric operations to the various taxing jurisdictions within the state;
- study the laws relating to the assessment and taxation of property;
- conduct an annual study of the fiscal capacity of local governments to fund education; and
- conduct an annual infrastructure study (summarized from T.C.A. 4-10-104).
Additionally, the Commission is directed by statute to hold four meetings per year and issue reports of its research and findings. Commission meetings, with invited guests and experts, and lively and thoughtful debate, form the core around which virtually all Commission activities are centered.
Given such a broad task environment, the Commission adopts an annual work plan to guide its meetings and research. The work plan is designed to ensure the completion of objectives set forth in the Commission's enabling act, as well as the achievement of the mission and goals. However, federal, state, or local exigencies often direct the attention of the Commission to critical policy matters not originally included in the work program.