The intergovernmental grant system as seen by local, State, and Federal officials : Page: 29
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indicated earlier that they were aware of the circular.
They could be familiar with a particular grants
management subject without being aware that it
was covered by a Federal management circular. If
the official said that a change had occurred, he was
then asked to indicate whether it did or did not
constitute an improvement in administration.
Table II-12 summarizes the responses for all
Among city officials responding, about twothirds
saw change in all the items except the standardization
of procedures for payments, etc.,
under FMC 74-7 and the two circulars on cost principles
and audits. Here the recognition of change
was somewhat less. Over 85 percent indicated that
improved administration resulted from these circulars,
except for the referral procedure under
A-95 (65.2%) and to a lesser extent (76.0%) for the
minimizing of the idle time in use of Federal grant
funds. The breakdown of responses by population
(not shown here) reveals that the 250,000-999,999
group was noticeably less certain than the other
groups that standardization of the pre-application
process caused change; and the 250,000-499,999
group was likewise less certain of changes having
come from the standardization of forms, etc. There
is no ready explanation for these deviations.
The participating county officials saw generally
less change issuing from FMC 74-7 than the city
officials, but a higher percentage of them saw
change resulting from the cost principles than did
the city respondents.3 County officials' ranking of
improvements was generally high, as was city officials'.
The one possible exception was the clearly
lower percentage of county officials who saw improvement
from the specific A-95 process listed.
But on that item, both city and county officials saw
less improvement produced than they perceived in
the other seven items.
Overall, it seems fair to conclude that there are
some problems regarding city and county officials'
awareness of these key Federal efforts to improve
grants management, particularly among the
smaller jurisdictions. Yet, the circulars are viewed
as having salutary effects by an overwhelming portion
of both groups of local officials. In light of the
continuing feeling among local officials that the
grant system is beset with problems of administrative
complexity and inefficiency (see section
below on "Problems"), one still must conclude
that these particular Federal efforts while helpful,
are but initial small steps on the long road to improving
the management of Federal grants-in-aid.
Catalog of Federal
The multiplicity and diversity of Federal grants
and the complexities and variations in procedures
required to obtain them has created a communications
gap between Federal grantor and state and
local grantee. This gap has been a key source of
dissatisfaction with the way the grant system is
working. One of the principal Federal efforts to
close the gap has been the development and refinement
of the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance,
now prepared and published annually (with
semi-annual updates) by OMB. The questionnaire
survey sought to ascertain how useful the Catalog
is, in the opinion of city and county officials.
The questionnaire first asked whether the officials
were aware of the Catalog. If so, they were
asked whether they found it an adequate aid in
identifying and obtaining Federal assistance. If
their answer was "No," their suggestions for improvement
were sought. Table II-13 summarizes
the responses to the first two questions.
Clearly a high degree of awareness of the Catalog
exists among both city and county officials. In the
various cross-classifications displayed in the table,
the percentage expressing awareness drops substantially
below 90 percent only among cities with
the commission (71.4%) and representative town
meeting forms of government (33.3%) and among
counties under 50,000 population (76.9%), in nonmetropolitan
areas (81.0%), or without an administrator
(81.8%). This pattern of awareness of the
Catalog parallels that found earlier with regard to
the management circulars, with the smaller, nonmetropolitan
places having the greatest difficulties.
On the question of the Catalog's usefulness as an
information aid, 72.1 percent of the responding
city officials and 68.9 percent of their county counterparts
rated it adequate. Considering the volume
and consistency of the complaints about the
Catalog and generally about the Federal government's
efforts to provide grant information to potential
recipients, this seems to be a remarkably
high rating. It suggests that the Catalog is doing a
better job than it is generally given credit for.
Among the respondents who thought the
Catalog is inadequate, the most frequent complaint
voiced was that it needs more frequent updating
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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/m1/37/: accessed April 26, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.