Funding Handout

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

In FY2016, Washington received $16,676,186,274 through 55 federal spending programs guided by data derived from the 2010 Census.

The Counting for Dollars 2020 Project aims to understand: 

  1. the extent to which the federal government will rely on data from the 2020 Census to guide the distribution of federal funding to states, localities, and households across the nation and 
  2. the impact of the accuracy of the 2020 Census on the fair, equitable distribution of these funds.

The project has analyzed spending by state for 55 federal programs ($883,094,826,042 in FY2016). Three types of programs are analyzed:

  • Domestic financial assistance programs provide financial assistance — including direct payments to individuals, grants, loans, and loan guarantees — to non-federal entities within the U.S. — such as individuals and families, state and local governments, companies, and nonprofits — in order to fulfill a public purpose.
  • Tax credit programs allow a special exclusion, exemption, or deduction from gross income or provide a special credit, a preferential rate of tax, or a deferral of tax liability.
  • Procurement programs award a portion of Federal prime contract dollars to small businesses located in areas selected on the basis of census-derived data.

The four uses of census-derived datasets to geographically allocate funding are:

  • Define eligibility criteria — that is, identify which organizations or individuals can receive funds.
  • Compute formulas that geographically allocate funds to eligible recipients.
  • Rank project applications based on priorities (e.g., smaller towns, poorer neighborhoods).
  • Set interest rates for federal loan programs.

The two categories of census-derived datasets are:

  • Geographic classifications — the characterization (e.g., rural), delineation (e.g., Metropolitan Areas), or designation (e.g., Opportunity Zones) of specific geographic areas.
  • Variable datasets
    • Annual updates of population and housing variables collected in the Decennial Census.
    • Household surveys collecting new data elements (e.g., income, occupation) by using the Decennial Census to design representative samples and interpret results.

Allocation of Funds from 55 Large Federal Spending Programs Guided by Data Derived from the 2010 Census (Fiscal Year 2016)

Total Program Obligations: 

Financial Assistance Programs

Medical Assistance Program (Medicaid)HHS$7,062,048,000
Community Facilities Loans/GrantsUSDA$38,033,528
Federal Direct Student LoansED$1,336,191,946
Supporting Effective Instruction State GrantsED$36,823,489
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance ProgramUSDA$1,452,893,518
Crime Victim AssistanceDOJ$48,821,061
Medicare Suppl. Medical Insurance (Part B)HHS$1,125,500,538
CDBG Entitlement GrantsHUD$40,136,072
Highway Planning and ConstructionDOT$682,958,983
Public Housing Capital FundHUD$25,002,000
Federal Pell Grant ProgramED$399,700,000
Block Grants for the Prevention and Treatment of Substance AbuseHHS$37,784,663
Section 8 Housing Choice VouchersHUD$509,706,000
Water and Waste Disposal Systems for Rural CommunitiesUSDA$15,081,100
Temporary Assistance for Needy FamiliesHHS$450,396,098
Social Services Block GrantHHS$34,892,677
Very Low to Moderate Income Housing LoansUSDA$446,692,303
Rural Rental Assistance PaymentsUSDA$35,857,764
Title I Grants to LEAsED$242,701,346
Business and Industry LoansUSDA$20,180,000
State Children's Health Insurance ProgramHHS$215,289,000
Career and Technical Education - Basic Grants to StatesED$20,522,876
National School Lunch ProgramUSDA$201,584,000
Homeland Security Grant ProgramDHS$13,015,974
Special Education GrantsED$230,436,683
WIOA Dislocated Worker GrantsDOL$20,083,489
Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments ProgramHUD$94,646,688
Federal Transit Formula GrantsDOT$264,325,000
State CDBGHUD$11,319,386
Head StartHHS$185,682,699
WIOA Youth ActivitiesDOL$19,035,891
WIOA Adult ActivitiesDOL$16,336,037
Title IV-E Foster CareHHS$86,876,649
Employment Service/Wagner-PeyserDOL$14,981,703
Health Care CentersHHS$125,908,671
Community Services Block GrantHHS$8,957,923
School Breakfast ProgramUSDA$55,763,000
Special Programs for the Aging, Title III, Part C, Nutrition ServicesHHS$13,844,851
Rural Electrification Loans and Loan GuaranteesUSDA$30,782,000
Cooperative Extension ServiceUSDA$6,812,636
Public and Indian HousingHUD$45,835,000
Native Amer. Employment & TrainingDOL$1,863,823
Low Income Home Energy AssistanceHHS$58,728,879

Child and Adult Care Food ProgramUSDA$47,468,000
Federal Tax Expenditures
Vocational Rehabilitation Grants to the StatesED$55,616,244
Low Income Housing Tax CreditTreas$192,277,754
Child Care Mandatory and Matching FundsHHS$78,400,000
New Markets Tax CreditTreas$96,604,859
Unemployment Insurance AdministrationDOL$92,408,000

Federal Transit - Capital Investment GrantsDOT$31,610,379
Federal Procurement Programs
Child Care and Development Block GrantHHS$48,074,000
HUBZones ProgramSBA$42,030,701
Adoption AssistanceHHS$39,864,241

Prepared by Andrew Reamer, the George Washington Institute of Public Policy, the George Washington University. Spending data analysis provided by Sean Moulton, Open Government Program Manager, Project on Government Oversight. | January 30, 2019

Note: The sequence of the above programs is consistent with U.S. rank order by program expenditures. (See U.S. sheet in series.)

Counting for Dollars 2020 publications and spreadsheet with above data available at

Contact Us

  1. Sara Porter
    Associate Planner

    Thurston Regional Planning Council
    2424 Heritage Court SW
    Suite A
    Olympia, WA 98502
    Ph: 360-956-7575