Block Grants

Federal-State Cooperation in Developing National Data Collection Strategies Gao ID: HRD-89-2 November 29, 1988

In response to a congressional request, GAO assessed federal and state cooperation in collecting national data on four block grant programs.

GAO found that: (1) the cooperative data collection approach reduced state and local governments' administrative burdens, promoted broad state cooperation in the development of national data systems, and allowed states flexibility in accommodating national reporting requests; (2) limited data comparability reduced the usefulness of data collected for such purposes as allocating federal funds or determining individual state needs; and (3) federal agency or national association leadership facilitated collection of comparable data. GAO also found that: (1) states supported the cooperative efforts of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Services (ADMS) block grant, where legislation required federal agencies to work with national associations of state officials to develop national data systems; (2) although recent legislation required the Secretary of Education to develop a cooperative system for Education block grant data collection, it did not require a similar system for the Community Services block grant (CSBG); (3) when no statutory requirement existed to encourage national leadership, it was more difficult to obtain comparable data; (4) states' installation of data collection systems made it more difficult to implement changes to accommodate a national reporting format to provide comparable state data on educational activities; and (5) lack of national leadership hindered the collection of comparable state-level data on mental health programs. In addition, GAO found that the cooperative data collection approach was easier to implement when: (1) there was federal funding to support data collection activities; (2) national-level staff worked with state officials; (3) state officials helped in the system design; and (4) states had prior involvement in categorical grant programs.


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