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Increasingly in recent years, discussion of the appropriate division of responsibilities between the nation and the states has shifted from ideological to pragmatic grounds. One consequence of that shift has been to bring into sharper focus the dilemma which confronts the growing number of those who believe that the existing structure of government is inadequate to the pressing tasks which face the nation, especially those tasks which center upon the metropolitan areas now inhabited by two-thirds of the nation's population. A rapidly developing consensus among persons of widely divergent political perspectives accepts the view summed up in Walter Heller's (1966: 121) statement that "there is neither the administrative capacity nor the problem-solving wisdom at the top" to deal adequately with all the nation's ills. Neither Detroit, nor Minneapolis, nor the metropolitan areas of which they are a part, can successfully be run from Washington. Any attempt to do so, as even the restrained moves in that direction during recent years have made us painfully aware, is likely to be insufficiently sensitive to the variant needs of different localities, to produce debilitating bureaucratic red tape, and to fail in coordinating programs whose ultimate success can be meaningfully determined only by the extent of their contribution to a larger whole.


Reproduced with permission. Originally published as Sandalow, Terrance. "Federal Grants and the Reform of State and Local Government." In Financing the Metropolis: Public Policy in Urban Economics, edited by John P. Crecine. Urban Affairs Annual Reviews 4. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage, 1970.