Older Americans Act:

Administration on Aging Does Not Approve Intrastate Funding Formulas

HRD-90-85: Published: Jun 8, 1990. Publicly Released: Jul 9, 1990.

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Gregory J. McDonald
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed states' Older Americans Act intrastate funding formulas to identify: (1) factors states use to distribute funds; (2) state formulas that include a specific factor that directs funds to areas with high minority populations; (3) formulas that include discriminatory factors; (4) recent state funding formula provisions; and (5) the extent to which the Administration on Aging (AOA) is involved in developing and approving intrastate formulas.

GAO found that: (1) Title III of the act targeted all individuals at least 60 years old to receive preferential services, but Congress amended the act to place more emphasis on serving low-income minorities; (2) most state formulas addressed minorities, but many included factors discriminating against them; (3) almost all states' formulas included one or more economic and social need factors, and 38 formulas included a social need factor to direct Title III funds specifically to minorities, but the remaining states did not include such factors for various reasons; (4) 41 state formulas included at least one factor that allocated funds according to the distribution of the elderly population; (5) AOA regulations require states to prioritize low-income minorities when developing formulas, but do not explain how the states are to do so; (6) 20 states used at least one of the specific discriminatory factors, and 8 used a similar factor to one a federal court found discriminatory; (7) eight states distribute funds using a factor focusing on persons living alone; (8) 36 states revised their Title III funding formulas primarily to address act and regulation changes; and (9) although AOA regulations require state agencies to submit their formulas to it, the regulations specify that states should submit their formulas separately from their service plans, resulting in the lack of federal agency approval of state funding formulas.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Legislation reauthorizing OAA was passed in the Senate on September 15, 1992, and is scheduled to be voted on in the House on September 22. Congress passed amendments to the act (P.L. 103-375) on September 30, 1992. The amendments give AOA the responsibilties of approving state plans (section 305(a)(2)(C)) and withholding funds if the AOA Commissioner does not approve of state funding formulas (section 304(b)).

    Matter: If Congress wants AOA to: (1) approve or disapprove the factors and weights included in intrastate funding formulas to better ensure that each state's formula meets the intent of the act and AOA regulations; and (2) withhold funds for disapproved formulas, Congress should consider amending Title III of the Older Americans Act to clarify this intent.


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