Devolution: The New Federalism-An Overview

by Robert Tannenwald
May/June 1998

In recent years, a growing number of scholars and policymakers have concluded that the federal government has become too large and powerful, intruding into affairs better handled by states and municipalities. Based on this premise, they have argued for a reduction in federal aid, the conversion of matching grants to block grants, greater flexibility for states in implementing federally funded programs, and curtailment of federal mandates. Their program is popularly referred to as "devolution," the "devolving" of federal responsibilities to lower levels of government. The controversy that devolution has generated is the latest chapter in a debate over optimal intergovernmental arrange-ments that is as old as the nation itself.

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