The Politics of Federal Grants

The Politics of Federal Grants

The Politics of Federal Grants

The Politics of Federal Grants

Excerpt

Several years ago we began to study the effects of federal grants on the behavior of grant recipients in state and local government. We saw a system in which the maze of intergovernmental grants for any one policy area was so complex that often the local officials charged with administering a program were not aware of the grants available.

After we completed our initial studies, we began to ask other questions regarding the politics of the intergovernmental grants process. We observed considerable administrative discretion in state agencies regarding such questions as which federal grant options to accept or reject, how to interpret federal program regulations, and how federal funds should be disbursed within states. We did not, however, see a strong part taken by legislators or elected officials. It occurred to us that the system was much like the regulatory process that applies to federal government relations with the private sector. We extended this analogy, and the questions that emerged were, "Who really governs?" and "Does the system work?" It is to these considerations that this volume is addressed.

We also thought it was important to relate the modern grants system to traditional concepts of federalism and to trace the evolution of grants programs through the stages of the policymaking process. In Chapter 1, therefore, we look at federalism and at the history of federal grants in the United States. Our regulatory model is introduced and explained in Chapter 2. Chapters 3 through 5 treat the stages of policymaking--agenda setting, policy adoption, and federal implementation. Chapter 6 discusses the general effects of federal grants on subnational jurisdictions. In Chapters 7 and 8 we examine the politics of federal grants specifically in urban and rural areas. Finally, Chapter 9 summarizes the argument and suggests what implications the grants system may have for policymaking and the federal government.

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