Compliance With Requirements To Hold Public Hearings on Use of Revenue Sharing Funds

GGD-80-41: Published: Mar 25, 1980. Publicly Released: Mar 25, 1980.

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To encourage citizen participation and to ensure that reasonable opportunity exists for citizens and groups to be informed and make their views known during both the budget planning process and the final budget enactment process, state and local governments receiving revenue sharing funds are required by federal law to hold two public hearings. GAO reviewed 181 state and local governments to determine whether the state and local governments had complied with the federal requirements. The first public hearing was to cover proposed uses of only revenue sharing funds; the second hearing was to cover the use of the revenue sharing funds in relation to the entire budget.

The governments visited generally complied with the public hearing requirements of the revenue sharing program. All of the state and local governments held the required second hearing; however, about 30 percent of the small communities had not held the required first hearing. Additionally, GAO was unable to document the level of citizen attendance at the hearings because most governments did not record such information. According to local officials, the hearings that were held were very poorly attended and, therefore, appeared to have little, if any, effect in influencing budget decisions. Furthermore, because the designations of the uses of revenue sharing funds tend to be meaningless, the first hearing held on the proposed uses of only the revenue sharing funds has questionable value. Accordingly, the House Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations may wish to consider whether the requirement for the first hearing should be retained.

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