Special Analysis

2014

Establishing a Grants Office

Special Analysis 14-04
June 11, 2014

Summary 

A state that chooses to create a grants office typically does so with the primary goals of managing and maximizing federal grant funds. While these are important objectives, the benefits of a grants office extend beyond these dollar-driven missions.

  • A grants office can ensure that the state’s policy goals are understood by state agency personnel who are best-positioned to pursue grant funds to help meet those goals.

  • For state agency staff, there will be a place to turn when federal and state auditors ask compliance questions related to federal grants. Compliance rules are complicated, and in 2014 all administrative circulars are being replaced by new guidance. Even experts will have to update their grants management skills

  • A grants office can give local governments and nonprofits a single place to go to identify grant opportunities from all funding sources, and to receive technical assistance.

  • Local governments, nonprofits, and others can work with a grants expert in each state agency who can provide subject-specific advice. They can also identify people in their own communities already working in the grants field who are potential partners or resources for technical assistance.

  • A grants office can provide free training for anyone, not just staff in state agencies, on how to find, win, and manage grants. By providing this training, peer interaction will increase across agency and jurisdictional lines, further improving the odds of program success.

  • Congressional and legislative staff can benefit by having a place to direct constituents seeking advice on where to look for funding.

  • A grants office creates a pool of experts across state agencies to tap when a new priority requires significant grant writing (e.g., Affordable Care Act [ACA]) or grants management services (e.g., American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [ARRA]).

  • A grants office can be part of a system for reviewing requests for letters of support on grant applications.



Sequestration of Mandatory Programs

Special Analysis 14-03
May 15, 2014

Summary 

Under the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA, P.L. 112-25) and subsequent legislation, mandatory programs covered by sequestration are subject to across-the-board (ATB) cuts in FYs 2013-2023. While a majority of mandatory funding awarded to states is exempt from sequestration, there are a number of mandatory programs that are subject to the ATB cuts. Specifically, 24 grants tracked by FFIS in its Grants Database fall into this category. This Special Analysis provides background on mandatory sequestration and highlights the different approaches taken by federal agencies to implement it. 



FY 2013 Per Capita Federal Spending on Major Grant Programs

Special Analysis 14-02
May 1, 2014

Summary 

Per capita federal spending is one measure for states to assess how they fare in their fiscal relationship with the federal government. This analysis provides the most recent per capita figures, focusing on the 242 federal grant-in-aid programs tracked and included in FFIS’s Grants Database. These grants account for 90% of total federal grants to state and local governments. The database primarily includes formula grants and does not capture many of the small competitive grants for which states compete.

This analysis provides per capita data for federal fiscal year (FY) 2013, using the Census Bureau’s annual population estimates from July 2013. On average, the federal government spent $1,871 per person on grants to state and local governments, ranging from $4,815 in the District of Columbia to $1,187 in Nevada.



Is Your State Maximizing Federal Funds?

Special Analysis 14-01
February 28, 2014

Summary 


Many states are seeking ways to assess how they fare in their fiscal relationship with the federal government and strengthen their efforts to maximize federal dollars. A handful of states have set up centralized grant offices to measure their progress and identify new funding opportunities. Others are evaluating whether to do so or have decided to track and monitor federal funds through existing structures.

There are a number of ways to evaluate federal spending. To give states a sense of their standing, the table below shows per capita federal spending for grants tracked by FFIS. While FFIS does not track every grant dollar going to state and local governments, it captures more than 90% of the total. This Special Analysis examines existing data sources and identifies steps to maximizing federal grants.

 



2013

The BCA in FY 2014 and Beyond

Special Analysis 13-04
July 3, 2013

Summary 


Many observers believed that the sequestration provisions of the Budget Control Act (BCA) were so unpopular that Congress would replace it with an alternative that included more significant savings from mandatory programs and changes to tax policy. That has proven impossible thus far, and so the BCA currently governs the annual appropriations process. However, neither chamber of Congress has adhered to its provisions in its FY 2014 budget actions. Specifically, both the president and the Senate assume that sequestration is replaced, while the House retains sequestration but violates the specified caps for defense and nondefense spending in order to provide additional defense spending. 



Clarification: Current Status of Sequester, FY 2013 Appropriations

Special Analysis 13-03
March 8, 2013

Summary 


FFIS has put out so many updates and re-estimates of our grants database that some of our readers may now be more confused than enlightened. We hope this helps to clarify things:

  1. OMB has released the final sequestration percentages: -5.0% for nondefense discretionary programs and -5.1% for nondefense mandatory programs subject to the BCA sequester. These cuts are applied to annualized fiscal year (FY) 2013 funding levels in place on March 1, 2013. Federal agencies charged with implementing this sequester will proceed in different ways and have been advised to work with their state partners to let states know how the cuts will affect specific grant programs. FFIS has estimated these fiscal impacts, and the estimates can be viewed here.
  2. Assuming the current continuing resolution (CR), which expires on March 27, 2013 is extended for the rest of FY 2013 with no changes to any funding levels, a second, much smaller sequester will be triggered. FFIS has described the reasons for the second sequester here.
  3. FFIS has also estimated the fiscal impact of the second sequester, were one to occur, available at the same link as provided in #1.
  4. This week, the House passed a CR to fund programs for the remainder of FY 2013. This CR does not extend all current spending levels; instead it funds most programs at their FY 2012 levels but amends some spending levels and includes a small across-the-board (ATB) cut. This ATB cut would negate the need for a second sequester, although the House action has NO impact on the March 1 sequester. FFIS has not prepared any state-by-state estimates reflecting the House CR because the bill is not law; it now moves to the Senate. FFIS has estimated national totals for major grant programs under the House CR. They can be seen here.
  5. The Senate is taking up the House CR for the remainder of FY 2013 next week. It is expected to amend the House CR. Assuming the Senate passes a CR that varies in any way from what the House passed (and it almost certainly will), the two bills will have to go to conference committee to work out those differences prior to March 27. Only the passage of that second CR will allow a definitive state-by-state estimation of the final spending levels provided for grant programs in FY 2013.



Updated FAQs: Implementing the BCA Sequester

Special Analysis 13-02
February 27, 2013

Summary 


As more questions over the upcoming sequester have surfaced, we have updated our frequently asked questions (FAQs) to include these new questions and provide additional details to some of our previous answers. All new or updated FAQs are indicated in the document. 



BCA Sequester: Impact of Two-Month Delay

Special Analysis 13-01
January 15, 2013

Summary 


The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA; P.L. 112-240) postpones the Budget Control Act (BCA) sequester from January 2, 2013 to March 1, 2013. The new law also reduces the total FY 2013 across-the-board (ATB) cut by $24 billion because it includes offsets to pay for the two-month delay.

FFIS has updated its state-by-state estimates of potential spending reductions resulting from the sequester to reflect these changes. FFIS estimates that states could see a -$4.4 billion funding reduction in FY 2013 for the programs in the FFIS database that are subject to sequester. However, most of the funding states receive via federal grants (82%) would be exempt from sequester.



2012

FAQ: Implementing the BCA Sequester

Special Analysis 12-04
November 20, 2012

Summary 


Over the last several weeks, we have had the opportunity to field several sequester-related questions from subscribers. Some of these came up during phone calls, some via e-mail, and many through scheduled conference calls with FFIS staff. The attached set of “frequently asked questions” (FAQs) provides our assessment of these thorny issues.



BCA Sequester: Where Things Stand

Special Analysis 12-03
October 15, 2012

Summary 


Under current law, the Budget Control Act (BCA) sequester is scheduled to occur on January 2, 2013. Both the House and the president have proposed alternatives to reverse some or all of the automatic cuts, but no agreement has been reached. Any change to the sequester would require enactment of explicit legislation modifying the BCA (P.L. 112-25). Congress is expected to consider this issue, along with expiring tax and other provisions, after the November 2012 election in a lame duck session. Increasingly, observers are expressing doubt that Congress will reach a deal on these items to avert the “fiscal cliff.”  

FFIS has updated its state-by-state estimates of potential spending reductions resulting from the sequester to reflect recent developments, including the latest funding information for fiscal year (FY) 2013 and a recent report from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on implementation of the sequester. FFIS estimates that states could see a -$7.5 billion funding reduction in FY 2013 for the programs in the FFIS database that are subject to sequester. However, most of the funding states receive via federal grants (82%) would be exempt from sequester. 

 



What if the BCA Sequester is Implemented Next January?

Special Analysis 12-02
July 20, 2012

Summary 


When Congress enacted the Budget Control of 2011 (BCA, P.L. 112-25), it included automatic spending reductions, known as sequester, to ensure $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction even if Congress and the president failed to enact a Joint Select Committee (JSC) bill by January 15, 2012, which reduced the deficit by that same amount. The JSC did not reach a deficit-reduction agreement, and a bill was not enacted. As such, the BCA sequester is scheduled to occur on January 2, 2013, for fiscal year (FY) 2013 spending. In recent months, the president and members of Congress have proposed alternatives to reverse some or all of the automatic cuts. However, any change to the sequester would require enactment of explicit legislation modifying the BCA. Absent a new law, the sequester will take place next January.

This Special Analysis is intended to give states a sense of potential spending reductions resulting from the BCA sequester. It estimates state-by-state funding levels in FY 2013 for the 214 programs tracked by FFIS. While 73% of the programs that FFIS tracks are covered by the sequester, most of the funding states receive via federal grants (82%) would be exempt from sequester. This is because Medicaid (which accounts for almost half of federal aid to states), several highway programs, and a host of other mandatory programs targeting low-income individuals are not subject to sequester. To give states a more complete picture of the effect of sequester on their economies, this analysis also provides estimates of the sequester’s impact on defense spending and National Institute of Health (NIH) funding.  

Compared to previous FFIS estimates, these estimates rely on the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) estimated FY 2013 sequester percentage of 7.8% for nondefense discretionary and mandatory programs and 10% for defense programs. It is still not possible to determine the precise implications of a sequester on federal funding for the reasons outlined in this analysis. However, FFIS will continue to update its estimates as additional information becomes available.

 



Updated State-by-State Analysis of BCA Sequester

Special Analysis 12-01
February 7, 2012

Summary 


The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA, P.L. 112-25) included automatic across-the-board (ATB) spending reductions if Congress and the president failed to enact a Joint Select Committee (JSC) bill by January 15, 2012, that reduced the federal budget deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years. Since a bill was not enacted, this process, known as sequestration, is scheduled to take effect on January 2, 2013, for fiscal year (FY) 2013 spending.

This Special Analysis estimates state-by-state funding levels in FY 2013 for the programs tracked by FFIS and subject to sequester. It updates FFIS Special Analysis 11-06, which was prepared prior to the completion of the FY 2012 appropriations process. This analysis provides hypothetical illustrations designed to give states a sense of the magnitude of potential spending reductions. At this point, it is not possible to determine the precise implications of a sequester on grant-in-aid funding. However, FFIS will periodically update this analysis as additional information becomes available.