Federal Economic Development Funding (GAO-06-436sp)

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This e-publication supplements the report "Rural Economic Development: More Assurance Is Needed That Grant Funding Information Is Accurately Reported" (GAO-06-294) by providing detailed information on spending patterns by agency, state, county and program for the economic development programs we identified in our report. Spending for each program is shown in total covering fiscal years 2002, 2003, and 2004.

Scope and Methodology

To examine the share of federal economic development funds that supports rural areas today, we (1) developed a framework for identifying federal economic development funding, (2) determined the most informative classification system for differentiating between rural and urban areas, (3) used the economic development framework and classification system to identify rural areas and report the amount and share of economic development funding these areas have received, and (4) examined federal agenciesí reporting of economic development funds.

We identified the 86 programs by reviewing the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance and through meetings with agency officials.

We identified rural areas using two separate criteria. Our primary criterion was a modification of the Rural-Urban Commuting Area (RUCA) approach developed by USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) and HHS's Office of Rural Health Policy. This approach classified counties based on the dominant RUCA code for the census tracts within the county. For consistency with prior work in the area, we also identified rural areas using ERS's rural-urban continuum approach.

For additional details on our methodology please see "Rural Economic Development: More Assurance Is Needed That Grant Funding Information Is Accurately Reported" (GAO-06-294). We conducted our work between January 2005 and December 2005 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

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