The intergovernmental grant system as seen by local, State, and Federal officials : Page: 4
This book is part of the collection entitled: Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations and was provided to Digital Library by the UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.
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those in larger jurisdictions, that Federal categorical
grants have a pervasive, stimulative, and lasting
effect on local decision making. These officials
have a similar perception of the impact of block
grants, but there are differences in their appraisals
of the effects of the two types of grants. Regarding
the LEAA and Partnership for Health grants,
the two on which special questions were asked, the
local respondents felt that these grants tended to
skew local budget priorities less than did the
categorical grants. Local officials also indicated
that in their view, block grants overall, and the
LEAA grant in particular, had more of a lasting
stimulative effect than the categoricals.
About one-half of the responding localities
that might have been expected to enjoy fiscal relief
from Federal assumption of the cost of public assistance
for the adult categories, felt that they had
actually experienced such relief. Comments from
some of the others, i.e., those reporting no fiscal
relief, suggest that whether localities actually benefit
fiscally from such shifting of fiscal or functional
responsibility to the Federal government
depends critically on what the state's response is in
the way of adjusting state-local fiscal and administrative
ADMINISTRATIVE PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED
WITH CATEGORICAL GRANTS
The complexity and volume of paper work
involved in the project grant process
usually called "red tape"
stands as the most
frequently identified administrative problem in
the Federal categorical grant system by city and
county officials. This problem, plus the other most
vexing issues identified by these local respondents,
indicates that the difficulties which have
been the focus of the Federal government's grant
administration reform efforts of the past decade
still are viewed as the key sore spots.
Possible categorical grant problems listed in
the questionnaire included matters of both grant
design (a Congressional responsibility) and implementation
(executive branch responsibility).
The responses indicate that the most pressing
problems are mainly matters of administrative implementation
rather than Congressional design
-The relatively low, "problem" rating given
"the narrowness of scope and the number of program
categories" is surprising in the light of state
and local officials' clamor for more block grants.
Matters of fund allocation, performance standards,
and centralized decision making are markedly
less bothersome, in the eyes of these local
officials, than problems caused by the volume of
paper work, processing delay, and specific financial
Both city and county officials responding believe
that the five worst grant administration problems
that each group identified have become worse
rather than better in the past five years.
Overall, they also regard project grants as
more serious generators of difficulties in the administration
of categorical aids than formulabased
When queried on whether they thought that
the most critical problems in the administration of
categorical grants related to direct Federal grants
or grants channeled through the states, the local
officials said that channeled grants created fewer
problems. This suggests that states play a facilitating
rather than an obstructive or complicating role
between the Federal agencies and local recipients,
in the eyes of these local officials (however, see (5)
under General Observations below).
FEDERAL EFFORTS TO IMPROVE
The key management circulars that aim to
facilitate grant administration are viewed as having
salutary effects by an overwhelming portion of
both city and county officials. Yet, the continuing
feeling among local officials that the grant system
is beset with problems of administrative complexity
and inefficiency indicates that these particular
Federal efforts, while helpful, are but initial steps
on the long, continuing road to improving the
management of Federal grants-in-aid.
Survey responses indicate that Federal officials
need to expend more effort in informing the
smaller suburban and non-metropolitan cities and
the smaller non-metropolitan counties about the
grants management circulars.
Considering the volume and consistency of
the complaints about the Catalog of Federal
Domestic Assistance and generally about the Federal
government's efforts to provide grant information
to potential recipients, local officials' responses
to the survey suggest that the Catalog is
doing a better job than it is generally given credit
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United States. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. The intergovernmental grant system as seen by local, State, and Federal officials :, book, March 1977; Washington, D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1368/m1/13/: accessed April 25, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.