State & Local Finance Initiative

Intergovernmental Topics

Federal/StateFederal/State - The federal programs that have the greatest impact on residents are often administered by state and local governments. Most states also piggy back on federal tax law. So, actions at the federal level in both programs and tax policy can have an immediate impact on state and local governments. Understanding these relationships is critical to analyzing changes at all levels of government.
Local GovernmentLocal Government - Local government includes cities, counties, school districts, and quasi-governmental enterprise agencies, like water authorities. These entities spent $1.7 trillion in fiscal year 2010, even more than states and rely on a different set of finance mechanisms that includes an intricate system of intergovernmental revenues from all levels of government. Local programs tend to be more operational, like infrastructure, police and fire protection, and housing.

InternationalInternational - The mission of the Urban Institute Center on International Development and Governance is to improve governance and opportunities for citizens in developing countries by providing research and technical assistance focused on local government, delivery and financing of public services, and the interactions of governments with firms and citizens.


















Federal, state, and local governments share responsibility for providing essential services to the American people. Ideally, this federal system would involve close cooperation and coordination among the different levels of governments. In practice, however, that often does not happen. We thus examine when intergovernmental relations succeed, and when they fail, in providing effective tax and budget policies. We draw lessons not only from U.S. experience but also from other nations, which use a diverse range of mechanisms to fund and administer their government programs and services.

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