Advocacy in National Endowment for the Humanities' Projects Funded by Five State Councils

GGD-85-23: Published: May 20, 1985. Publicly Released: May 20, 1985.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed projects funded by five state humanities councils to determine whether federal funds supplied by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) were used to support projects which defended a particular point of view.

GAO found that funding for state programs is decentralized, and grants from NEH go to state councils composed of volunteer citizens. The state councils stimulate and respond to competitive proposals for locally conceived and executed projects in the humanities and have wide discretion in funding projects. However, NEH policy states that it does not fund projects designed to promote a particular political, ideological, religious, or partisan point of view. GAO found that, compared to the total number of projects funded by the state councils, only a few have been judged by NEH or the state councils to have advocated one point of view. GAO also found that 25 projects had funding denied from 1981 to 1984 because of perceived advocacy. Those projects in which advocacy questions or concerns have been raised have most often been projects which focused on current issues or public policy projects. However, GAO found that elimination of questions about advocacy is unlikely.

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