The Administration of Federal Grants to States

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

CHAPTER V
RECORDS AND REPORTS

FEDERAL agencies commonly require periodic reports from state services administering aided functions. These reports are of two sorts: financial and functional. The latter type describes the service performed, and may be either statistical or narrative in form. All reports merely reflect records; when the federal government asks for reports, it must sometimes supplement its requests with suggestions or prescriptions of record systems which will furnish the information desired. Reporting requirements thus influence the nature of the record system.

Federal interest in state record systems is at least twofold. The desire to raise the level of performance within the states leads to efforts to devise and bring about the adoption of record systems which will facilitate effective administration. Intelligent management requires relatively precise knowledge of the scope and character of current operations, comparisons of activities from period to period, and indices of the achievements of the various units of the organization, state or local. The recorded data must be in a form adaptable to use in legislative and financial planning and for public information. The nature and use of records are frequently gauges of administrative competence. In all these things, the interests of federal and state administrators are parallel, although as a general rule there is difficulty in bringing state officials to realize the utility of more elaborate record systems.

Another federal interest in the state systems of records is that they be kept in a way to show compliance with the conditions of the federal grant. Summarizations may be transcribed from the records to reports to be forwarded to Washington, but both functional and financial records usually include much unreported data indicating compliance, and may be examined by representatives of the federal agency. A minute description of the records and reports required in connection with each federally-aided activity would be both dreary and pointless. Instead, their purposes and role in federal-state relations may be analyzed with pertinent illustrations from several activities.

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