The Administration of Federal Grants to States

By V. O. Key Jr. | Go to book overview

PREFACE

THE growth of the system of federal grants to states has profoundly modified our federal system. The intrinsic importance of the grant system as it stands, together with the probability of its future expansion, makes desirable an analysis of the problems peculiar to this province of public administration. This study was not undertaken for the purpose of evaluating the results of the work under the various grants. Criticisms of the formulae for making concrete or of the methods of health department laboratories are obviously matters for the appropriate technicians. The purpose has been rather to analyze the problems of administration which recur in the administration of grants to states. The underlying assumption has been that these problems are to a considerable degree common to all types of federally-aided functions. Hence, the available data have been marshalled with the object of pointing to the recurring issues. In some instances, solutions have been suggested; in others, the prevailing notions of the best practice have been outlined. Frequently the "best practice" can be expounded most effectively by citation of the wrong procedure. It should not be assumed, therefore, that isolated abnormalities used for illustration characterize the entire program under consideration. Nor should specific aspects of an agency's work singled out for commendation necessarily be considered as representative of its performance.

To undertake a comprehensive survey of the problems of federal-aid administration requires monumental audacity. Students in the field will appreciate the magnitude of the task. It is believed that the advantages of the broad view with the chance for weakness in detail outweigh the virtues of the thoroughness of a microscopic examination of a particular agency or problem. The results, stated dogmatically at times, are, nevertheless, offered with diffidence. It is hoped that the findings will stimulate speculation and more detailed studies of special phases of the problem, that they will serve as guideposts to those formulating future federal-aid policies, and that they will be of some value to those charged with the administration of federal grants at both state and federal levels.

A study of this scope must to a degree be the product of collective effort. In the accumulation of data, federal officials in all the grant-

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