ERIC Number: ED374950
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994-Jul
Rural Development: Patchwork of Federal Programs Needs To Be Reappraised. Report to Congressional Requesters.
General Accounting Office, Washington, DC. Resources, Community, and Economic Development Div.
This report identifies factors that influence a rural area's economic success or failure, and evaluates whether federal programs efficiently address rural economic problems. Data collection included a review of federal programs that provide funding to rural areas, and interviews with federal and state agency officials involved with rural development and with local officials in 31 rural counties in 13 states. The counties selected were samples of counties that performed better than, worse than, or consistent with the predictions of an economic model. Three factors that frequently inhibit economic growth are inherent rural characteristics--distance from metropolitan areas, reliance on a single industry, and sparse population. Other obstacles to rural development are inadequate infrastructure, poor business climate (lack of credit or tax incentives, and workers lacking in technical or basic skills), lack of local business expertise, financial drain of unfunded state and federal mandates, and lack of effective local leadership and planning. Between 1983 and 1992, approximately 689 federal programs related to economic development, human resources, agricultural/natural resources, and infrastructure channeled about $667 billion to rural areas. Of the 689 programs, 461 were human resource programs sponsored by such entities as the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The many complex and narrowly focused programs are generally difficult and costly to use because officials must grapple with a variety of rules and regulations. These numerous programs are an inefficient surrogate for a single federal policy for rural economic development. Moreover, the federal interagency group established to address these problems lacks the authority to make program changes. Appendices contain a list of counties visited, comments from federal departments, and legislative recommendations. (SV)
Descriptors: Economic Development, Federal Aid, Federal Programs, Government Role, Human Resources, Public Policy, Rural Areas, Rural Development, Rural Economics
U.S. General Accounting Office, P.O. Box 6015, Gaithersburg, MD 20884-6015 (first copy, free; additional copies, $2 each; 100 or more, 25 percent discount).
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: General Accounting Office, Washington, DC. Resources, Community, and Economic Development Div.