The effects of federal financial assistance: attitudes and actions of local emergency managers

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University of Delaware
Scholars agree that, since the inception of the Department of Homeland Security, emergency management in the United States has been increasingly centralized. This study posits that centralization has been a longer term trend with negative effects on federal relationships. This dissertation examines the pay arrangements between the local and federal governments with respect to the Emergency Management Performance Grant and the Public Assistance Program. A nationwide study of county emergency managers investigated the attitudes towards these two programs and related budgetary actions. Respondents were asked to consider the extent of federal control over these financial assistance programs and the extent to which they were dependent upon them for program sustainment. Results of the study show that elements of federal control are more evident in the program that requires only a 25% match by the local government. Further, emergency managers report that their organizations are dependent on federal aid and experience decreased autonomy as a result of the receipt of funds. Lastly, budgetary activities on the local level which would guard against this dependence and loss of autonomy are generally not undertaken.