Potential Impact of Using Adjusted Census Counts for Federal Formula Programs

T-GGD-92-5: Published: Nov 13, 1991. Publicly Released: Nov 13, 1991.

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GAO discussed the potential impact of using adjusted census counts for federal funding allocations. GAO noted that: (1) 100 federal programs providing grants at the state and local levels use population-related data to allocate funds; (2) because some programs allocated only a portion of their total grants through formulas that included population data elements, the amount of funding influenced by population data was less than the estimated $116 billion in obligations for fiscal year (FY) 1991; (3) 30 of the 100 programs used data elements in their formulas for which the decennial census was the only source of information; (4) the effect of using adjusted FY 1990 census population data for federal funding would be relatively small, since many factors affect the level of funding, including the type of population data used, whether nonpopulation data were used, and whether other formula provisions set minimum or maximum allocations; (5) simulated allocations for three federal programs indicated that using adjusted data as the basis for allocations would redistribute less than one half of one percent of total funding to states; (6) some states could incur estimated changes of over $1 million in their allocations, by using the adjusted data; and (7) any intercensal population estimates incorporating a correction for census net undercount will not be available before mid-1992 or early FY 1993.

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