Grant programs : design features shape flexibility, accountability, and performance information
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Grant programs : design features shape flexibility, accountability, and performance information

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  • English

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    • Alternative Title:
      Grant program design features
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    • Abstract:
      Flexible grants--block grants and similar programs that give state or local governments the flexibility to adapt funded activities to fit the state or local context--are an adaptable policy tool and are found in fields from urban transit to community mental health. Flexible grant programs vary greatly in the kind and the degree of flexibility afforded to state or local entities, the distribution of accountability across levels of government, and the availability of direct measures of program performance. Program variation reflects differences in three key design features: whether national objectives for the grant are primarily performance-oriented or primarily fiscal, whether the grant funds a distinct "program" with its own operating structure or contributes to the stream of funds supporting state or local activities, and whether it supports a single major activity or diverse activities. Flexibility is narrowest, but accountability to the federal level clearest, in programs that focus on a single major activity and pursue national performance objectives through a distinct operating structure. Flexibility is broadest in programs designed with the fiscal objective of adding to the stream of funds supporting diverse state or local activities. In these broadly flexible programs, the federal agency's role is limited to providing funds. Program direction and accountability are assigned to the state level.
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