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

Initial Analysis: 16 Large Census-guided Financial Assistance Programs
August 18, 2017

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 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.

In Winter 2017-18, the project will prepare a list of all Census-guided federal programs. In the meantime, it has prepared a report analyzing the use of Census-derived data by 16 large federal programs and a listing of 22 Census-derived datasets used by these programs. A summary of the findings is below.


  • In Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, the 50 states plus the District of Columbia received $589.7 billion from 16 large Census-guided programs, such as Medicaid, Highway Planning and Construction, the National School Lunch Program, and Head Start.
  • Twelve grant-making programs distributed $427.7 billion, 68.5 percent of all federal grants. Of these, nine made $401.4 billion in grants to state governments, 70.1 percent of all federal grants to states.
  • Four programs providing direct payments to individuals distributed $162.0 billion.
  • For 15 of the 16 programs, the amount of funds a state received was guided by its 2010 Census count. The more accurate the state’s count, the more fair and equitable is its share of federal funds.
  • The 16 programs do not directly use the Decennial Census count to guide geographic distribution. Rather, the programs use 22 datasets derived from the last Decennial Census, in a manner instructed or authorized by Congress.
  • The datasets most relied on to guide the geographical distribution of funds include Core-based Statistical Areas, Urban/Rural Classification, Population Estimates, American Community Survey, Current Population Survey, Per Capita Income, and Poverty Guidelines.
  • Most Census-derived datasets are built using other Census-derived datasets. Of note, 21 of the 22 Census-derived datasets make use of the American Community Survey.
  • The project expects to find that there were about 300 Census-guided federal programs in FY2015, with total outlays of approximately $700 billion.

 

Programs

U.S. and States

1. Medical Assistance Program (Medicaid)

2. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

3. Medicare Part B (Supplemental Medical Insurance) – Physicians Fee Schedule Services

4. Highway Planning and Construction

5. Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers

6. Title I Grants to Local Education Agencies

7. National School Lunch Program

8. Special Education Grants (IDEA)

9.State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP)

10. Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments Program (Project-based)

11. Head Start/Early Head Start

12. Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

13. Foster Care (Title IV-E)

14. Health Center Programs (Community, Migrant, Homeless, Public Housing)

15. Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP)

16. Child Care and Development Fund – Entitlement

 

United States

Alabama

Alaska

Arizona

Arkansas

California

Colorado

Connecticut

Delaware

District of Columbia

Florida

Georgia

Hawaii

Idaho

Illinois

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

Maine

Maryland

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

Mississippi

Missouri

Montana

Nebraska

Nevada

New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota

Ohio

Oklahoma

Oregon

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Vermont

Virginia

Washington

West Virginia

Wisconsin

Wyoming