Grants Management: Policies and Procedures at the State and Local Government Levels

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Administration


Jesse Burkhead


New York, Pennsylvania, Federal grants, Government structure, Quality of information

Subject Categories

Public Administration


In recent years a number of important issues have arisen regarding the effects of federal grants on the finances and management of grant recipients (state and local governments). The growth in the use of federal grants and mandates has changed the nature of intergovernmental relations dramatically in the past twenty years. It is generally accepted that many large urban areas are dependent on federal grant dollars, while at the same time being burdened by the procedural requirements associated with the receipt of grant funds. The vast growth within and among the levels of the intergovernmental system has inhibited most efforts to either coordinate or simplify federal fiscal assistance activities.

This dissertation is an effort to describe and analyze the grants management procedures of recipient governments, with particular attention to two states (New York and Pennsylvania) and four local governments (in New York, the City of Syracuse and Onondaga County, and in Pennsylvania, the City of Allentown and Lehigh County). Grants administration (grantsmanship) involves two partially separable activities, acquisition and management (budgeting, accounting, and auditing) of the funds by the recipient units of government. This study is concerned with both types of activities. The issues involved in this examination are: (1) the degree to which grantor and grantee jurisdictions' financial operations are centralized/decentralized; (2) the impact of federal assistance on the state and local government structure; and (3) the quality of the information on federal and state grants found in the local government budgets and financial statements.

This study reveals a number of problems that were in existence in 1980 and are still present. At the federal level, grants policy development has been plagued by the lack of consistent Congressional attention and a coordinated executive branch approach. The Office of Management and Budget has never been adequately equipped to deal with the management of the federal assistance system and all of the technical details such as cognizant agency assignments, the single-audit approach, and indirect cost plans. At the state level, the resurgence of legislative interest in federal grants will provide additional complications for budget and grants management units. At the state and local levels, pressures for greater financial disclosure and professionalization of financial management will increase. This will likely lead to greater centralization in both aspects of grants administration--acquisition and management. Since many of these problems have been present for a decade or longer, the prospects for resolution in the uncertain fiscal times ahead are not promising.


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