Counting for Dollars 2020: The Role of the Decennial Census in the Geographic Distribution of Federal Funds

February 19, 2019

As directed by Congress, several hundred federal financial assistance programs rely on data derived from the Decennial Census to guide the geographic distribution of funds to states, counties, cities, and households. To better understand the fiscal impacts of the upcoming 2020 Census on states and local areas, the Counting for Dollars Project aims to:

  • identify each federal program that geographically distributes financial assistance                                                                    based, in whole or part, on data derived from the Decennial Census; and
  • ascertain the connection between Decennial Census accuracy and the                                                                              equitable distribution of funds to states and local areas.
Reports and State Tables
The distribution in FY2015 by state of $590 billion from 16 large federal financial assistance programs based on data derived from the 2010 Census.
Determination of the fiscal costs of a decennial census undercount on state treasuries for five U.S. Department of Health and Human Services programs that use the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP), which is based on the 2010 Census population count. In FY2015, FMAP-determined reimbursements to and payments from state governments totaled $286.1 billion. 
Fifty-five census-guided federal financial assistance programs are targeted to rural communities. For FY2016, spending across these programs totaled $30.7 billion.
Two-page summary of brief prepared for The Census Project, September 2018
This report identifies 52 census-derived datasets used by the federal government to geographically allocate financial assistance, tax credits, and procurement contracts.
#5  Distribution of Funding from 55 Large Census-guided Programs by State
This forthcoming report describes the FY2016 distribution by state of $883.1 billion from 55 large federal expenditure programs based on data derived from the 2010 Census.
In the box below, a one-sheet handout is available for the nation and each state.
The spreadsheet table showing the distribution by state is available here.
#6 Federal Programs that Geographically Allocate Financial Assistance Based on Decennial Census Data (forthcoming)
 A complete listing of all federal financial assistance programs that rely on census-derived data to allocate funding to geographic areas. Data for the nation only.


2020 Census: How the Count Affects State Budgets

Presented to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) annual conference, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, July 23, 2018

Counting For Dollars: A Study of Census-guided Financial Assistance to Rural America

Presented to the Congressional Rural Caucus, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC, October 11, 2018

The Role of the 2020 Census in Distributing Federal Funds to Maryland Nonprofits

Presented to Maryland Nonprofits, March 20, 2019

Citizenship Question -- Federal Court Expert Reports and Declarations
On the impact of the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census on the geographic allocation of federal financial assistance to states and areas