Community Services Block Grant:

New State Role Brings Program and Administrative Changes

HRD-84-76: Published: Sep 28, 1984. Publicly Released: Sep 28, 1984.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the progress which 13 states are making in implementing the community services block grant as authorized by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981.

GAO found that, despite the fact that the 1982 and 1983 Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) appropriations were approximately 30-percent below the 1981 level, the 13 states generally chose not to use their own funds to offset reduced federal support. Because states generally chose not to adhere strictly to the funding patterns established for the prior categorical programs, they instituted new methods for distributing 90 percent of CSBG funds. As a result, 91 percent of the community action agencies in the states sustained funding reductions with limited purpose agencies receiving budget cuts which exceeded 50 percent. Only two of the states used their new authority to establish priorities for the types and amounts of services provided, and four prohibited the use of CSBG funds to pay the cost of administering other federal programs. Local service providers continued to be the principal decision makers concerning service priorities, and most of the providers made service-related adjustments which contributed to their operations. GAO found that the states reported their intended use of CSBG funds to the public by legislative hearings, executive branch hearings, and advisory groups. While 54 percent of the interest groups contacted saw the block grant approach as less desirable than the prior categorical approach, state officials generally viewed the block grant approach as more desirable. However, both state officials and interest groups expressed concern about federal funding reductions.

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