Federal Education Funding:

Allocation to State and Local Agencies for 10 Programs

HEHS-99-180: Published: Sep 30, 1999. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on 10 major Department of Education programs for (FY) 1996, focusing on: (1) the percentage of federal funding spent at the federal level and the uses of these funds; (2) the percentage of federal funding spent at the state level and the uses of these funds; and (3) the amount of time school personnel in a small number of school districts spent fulfilling federal administrative requirements for those programs for which the districts received funds.

GAO noted that: (1) in FY 1996, Education distributed over 99 percent of the appropriations for the 10 programs to the states; (2) the states, in turn, collectively distributed 94 percent of the funds they received to local agencies; (3) 92 percent of the original appropriations was allocated primarily to local agencies; (4) at both the federal and state levels, the funds that were not distributed supported such activities as research and evaluation related to the programs and information dissemination about them; (5) at the state level, the funds, as authorized by law, may be spent on a wider range of activities, such as developing student performance standards and professional development training for teachers; (6) Education spent less than 1 percent of all appropriated program funds, distributing the rest primarily to the states in FY 1996; (7) only for the School-to-Work program did Education spend more than 1 percent, spending 7 percent of the funds for this program; (8) Education spent the funds on such services as research, evaluation, and information dissemination; (9) Education paid for other costs of running the programs, such as the salaries and benefits of staff issuing grants and administering the programs, from an appropriation it receives for overall management, and not from funds appropriated for the agency's programs; (10) in FY 1996, Education received $327 millions to administer all of its programs; (11) Education estimates that it spent about $23 million to administer the 10 programs GAO reviewed; (12) for 9 of the 10 programs, the states spent an average of from 1 to 17 percent of the funding; (13) for the remaining program (Bilingual Education state grants), all the funds GAO reviewed were intended to be used at the state level; (14) collectively, states distributed 94 percent of the federal funds they received mainly to local agencies; (15) excluding the $7.3-billion Title I program, the overall percentage of funds states allocated to local agencies by the remaining 9 programs was 86 percent; (16) the states, like Education, spent the funds for activities such as technical assistance and program evaluation; (17) the states are also authorized to spend the funds for a wider range of activities, including designing curricula and demonstration projects; and (18) GAO visited 9 of the nation's 16,000 school districts and found that school-level staff spent very little time administering the programs and district office staff also generally spent little time administering them; the time they spent varied by district and by program.

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