Block Grants:

Federal Data Collection Provisions

HRD-87-59FS: Published: Feb 24, 1987. Publicly Released: Feb 24, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO compared the education block grant's statutory data collection and reporting provisions with nine other block grant programs funded in fiscal year 1986.

GAO found that block grant legislation imposes three types of data collection and reporting requirements: (1) agency reports to Congress on program activities; (2) program assessment data; and (3) federal agency compliance reviews of state programs. In addition to requirements for federal agencies, Congress imposed data collection requirements on states that receive block grant funds, including: (1) grant applications, which must include information on how the states use federal funds; (2) program reports, which describe the actual use of federal funds and must be submitted to the federal agencies; (3) fiscal expenditure reports, which provide expenditures within certain cost categories; and (4) financial and compliance audits, which examine the financial statements and internal controls of administering agencies. Since states establish their own program reporting formats, it is difficult to aggregate state-reported data on a nationwide basis for the block grants. Federal agencies use strategies that rely on non-federal organizations as a means of providing a national picture for block grant activities. In addition to statutory data collection requirements, eight of the block grants have limitations on the use of federal funds for state administration of the grants. None of the federal agencies have defined state administrative costs in implementing regulations.

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