Economic Development:

Multiple Federal Programs Fund Similar Economic Development Activities

RCED/GGD-00-220: Published: Sep 29, 2000. Publicly Released: Oct 30, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO identified federal programs that supported economic development, focusing on: (1) the programs that more directly fund economic development activities, including the level of financial support that they provide; and (2) comparing selected aspects of these programs, such as program applicants, to identify areas of potential overlap.

GAO noted that: (1) 10 agencies and 27 subagency units administer 73 programs that can be used to support one or more of the six activities that GAO identified as being directly related to economic development; (2) in some cases, a single program can be used to fund multiple activities, while in some cases, a single program can be used to fund only one type of activity; (3) while these 73 programs had total combined obligations of about $58 billion during fiscal year (FY) 1999, most of the individual programs each had obligations of less than $50 million; (4) in many cases, only a portion of the obligations was related to the six activities that GAO identified as being directly related to economic development; (5) specifically, for 30 of the programs--those for which agencies could provide more detailed obligation information--approximately $7 billion was obligated to support one or more of the six economic development activities for FY 1999; (6) in many cases, the programs required the applicants to supplement or match these funds with funds from other sources; (7) in each of the six activity areas, GAO identified programs that fund a similar activity and also have the same applicants; and (8) while GAO identified overlap among many federal programs that support economic development, additional information is needed to determine whether that overlap resulted in the inefficient or ineffective delivery of the programs involved.

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