Uncontrollable Spending for Social Services Grants

Uncontrollable Spending for Social Services Grants

Uncontrollable Spending for Social Services Grants

Uncontrollable Spending for Social Services Grants

Excerpt

IN CLASSIFYING. roughly three-fourths of the United States budget as "relatively uncontrollable" the President's budget office indicates that outlays for such items cannot be changed by government decisions except through a change in existing substantive law. By themselves, the President and his subordinates in the executive branch presumably cannot reduce "uncontrollable" budget items.

It is fair nevertheless to ask just how uncontrollable these so-called uncontrollables are and how they came to be that way. The executive branch has something to say about what goes into the nation's laws. It interprets the laws through regulations. It applies the regulations to particular cases; for example, an individual's application for siocial security benefits or a state or local government's application for grant-in- aid funds. At one or more of these points, it seems likely that the executive branch exercises discretion even in the administration of uncontrollable programs.

Without presuming that her conclusions would apply equally to other uncontrollable budget items, the author of this study scrutinizes executive actions with respect to a particular program -- grants-in-aid to the states for social services. In this case, a drastic expansion of spending occurred during the first term of the Nixon administration, and this increase made social services grants a particularly interesting case for study. Why did this sudden outburst of spending occur, and how was it brought: under control?

The search for the answers contributes much to an understanding of the inner workings of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and of its relations with the President's budget office and with state governments. The author concludes that the law authorizing social services grants, while defective, did not deprive the executive branch of . . .

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