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Vocational Rehabilitation Funding Formula: Options for Improving Equity in State Grants and Considerations for Performance Incentives

GAO-09-798 Published: Sep 30, 2009. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 2009.
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State vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies play a crucial role in helping individuals with disabilities obtain employment. In fiscal year 2008, the Department of Education (Education) distributed over $2.8 billion in grants to state agencies, using a funding formula that was last revised in 1978. Questions have been raised about whether this formula is outdated, allocates funds equitably, and adequately accounts for state agencies' performance. GAO was asked to: (1) examine the extent to which the current formula meets generally accepted equity standards, (2) present options for revising the formula, and (3) identify issues to consider with incorporating performance incentives into the formula. To address these objectives, GAO relied upon two equity standards commonly used to design and evaluate funding formulas: beneficiary equity, which stipulates that funds should be distributed so that each state can provide the same level of services to each person in need; and taxpayer equity, which stipulates that states should contribute about the same proportion of their resources to a given program. GAO analyzed data from Education, Department of the Treasury, Census Bureau, and other agencies; surveyed state VR agencies; interviewed agency officials and disability experts; and reviewed literature on performance incentives.

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Aid for the disabledAllocation (Government accounting)DisabilitiesEmployee incentivesEmployment of the disabledFederal aid to statesFederal fundsstate relationsFunds managementGrants to statesPerformance measuresPeople with disabilitiesRehabilitation programsSpecial educationStandardsVocational rehabilitationProgram goals or objectives