The Administration of Federal Grants to States

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

CHAPTER II
STATE PLANS AND BUDGETS

TO EFFECTUATE the policies laid down by Congress in federal- aid statutes, it has been found useful in most aided functions to require some form of advance federal approval of contemplated state action before funds are made available for expenditure. Such approval applies to current operations and is distinguished from initial conditions to be met by states in qualifying for grants. For example, in order to receive grants for highway construction, a state must establish a state highway department with "adequate powers and suitably equipped and organized," and accept the various conditions under which the federal grant is to be spent; but after this initial qualification, the individual highway projects to be constructed must be reviewed and approved by the Bureau of Public Roads to insure that operations are carried on in accordance with the policies of the federal highway act. It is with the latter type of prior review and approval of operations that this chapter is primarily concerned.

Advance consideration and approval of state action are commonly brought about by the submission of plans and budgets to the appropriate federal administrative agency. The necessity for state plans and budgets arises only when there is considerable discretion in the scope and methods to be employed in the services to be undertaken by the state. In a function such as the National Guard, in which uniformity is peculiarly a desideratum and practically every detail of the work is covered by regulations promulgated by the federal agency, there is no room for the formulation of advance plans and budgets by the state administration. Approval of National Guard undertakings may be granted after field inspection to ascertain compliance with federal regulations which anticipate every conceivable contingency. In most activities, however, it is possible and desirable to preserve a great deal of initiative for the state agency with ample leeway for planning services to meet peculiar local conditions. Every contingency can not, and should not, be provided for by regulation; it becomes necessary that schemes be submitted and evaluated in the light of policies embodied in the act of

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