The Badger Institute's Project for 21st Century Federalism







The Project for 21st Century Federalism is the Badger Institute's multi-year investigation of the growth in federal grants and their effect on state and local governance. The project was launched in September 2016.

Stories in the project include:

Wisconsin school officials want federal role in local education reduced
Funding regulations hamper districts and don’t improve education, local officials say in survey.
By Dan Benson and Julie Grace - December 12, 2017

The full school survey on federal funding

Invasion of the federal bean counters
Hordes of Wisconsin government workers are employed to "check boxes" for the feds.
By Dave Daley - November 13, 2017


Schools hire high-priced specialists to deal with complex federal grant rules
Paperwork takes staff away from daily responsibilities and educating kids, officials say.
By Julie Grace - November 13, 2017

Cutting federal grants can be political suicide for elected officials
Effort to scrap popular Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is a case study in how difficult it is to reduce spending.
By Dave Daley - November 1, 2017

Act 10 savings torpedoed
Federal regulations force school districts to spend that money or face funding cuts.
By Dan Benson and Julie Grace - October 18, 2017

The shameless chase for federal money
Private contractors help states grab more U.S. dollars at the expense of serving children and the poor.
By Dave Daley - October 18, 2017


Betsy DeVos vows to free local educators from paperwork
U.S. education secretary also plans to give them more say over federal school dollars.
By Dan Benson - October 4, 2017

Press release on Walker asking DPI to resubmit education funding plan
September 13, 2017

Federal rules distort local education policy
School officials make decisions they wouldn’t make otherwise to comply with funding requirements.
By Julie Grace and Dan Benson - September 12, 2017

Wisconsin legislators missing opportunity in ESSA to take control of education
ESSA could offer opportunities for state to involve districts in decision-making.
By Julie Grace and Dan Benson - September 12, 2017


Follow the money: Federal grants are the key to constraining bureaucracy
Federal grants usually drive up state and local spending; all that counting, check-writing and auditing costs money.
By Dan Benson - May 11, 2017

Sunshine Week: Federal grants obscure spending, diffuse accountability
“Federal agencies have over time adopted a culture of contempt for the public’s right to know,” says Bill Lueders of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council.
By Dave Daley - March 14, 2017

HUD report leaves questions unanswered regarding tribe's use of federal funds
The St. Croix Chippewa tribe is making changes in how it manages federal housing funds in response to a 2015 audit critical of the tribe’s use of $2.3 million in federal housing grants.
By Dave Daley - March 7, 2017

The bureaucratic 'skim' of federal school funding
Managing federal education dollars is costing Wisconsin taxpayers millions and benefiting children hardly at all.
By Dan Benson and Dave Daley - February 15, 2017

The federalization of Wisconsin DPI
Nearly half of Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction employees owe their livelihood to the federal government as they execute some 59 federal education-related programs.
By Dan Benson and Dave Daley - January 24, 2017

Presentation to Assembly Committee on Federalism and Interstate Relations
Wisconsin alone now receives nearly one-third of all state budget revenues from Washington, D.C. — and, as a result, has forfeited control over vast areas of policy and spending.
Mike Nichols and Dan Benson - January 24, 2017


Federal fair housing rule threatens local control
New regulation for adding diversity to suburbs and towns is social engineering, critics say.
By Dave Daley - October 2016

Keeping ‘real money’ local helps solve real problems
The questions we should be asking, however, are: Why aren’t our problems getting better? What value does the Washington bureaucracy add?
By Dan Benson - October 25, 2016

Congressman calls for more investigation into tribes’ spending of federal grants
U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy is seeking a forensic audit of all federal monies awarded to the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa after 113 tribal members sent him a petition alleging mismanagement of federal grants.
By Dave Daley - October 21, 2016

Analysis: Cash-strapped school districts burdened by federal grant regulations
Thousands of hours of staff time and millions of tax dollars statewide will be spent by school districts to prepare the so-called annual Single Audit of federal funds that flow to local school districts.
By Dan Benson - October 11, 2016

West Allis school district weaning itself from some federal money
After years of chasing federal grant money, district officials are determined to no longer allow the lure of federal grants to steer spending decisions.
By Dan Benson - October 11, 2016

Duffy calls for HUD action on tribe's misuse of funds
U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) is asking federal housing officials to explain why grants meant to help needy members of the St. Croix Chippewa tribe may not be getting to those most needing that assistance.
By Dave Daley - October 7, 2016

While poverty persists for St. Croix Chippewa, tribe officials misuse federal funds, audit shows
Over the years, dozens of families have at times languished on waiting lists for housing assistance and in 2014 and 2015 federal audits show tribal housing officials loaned themselves housing money without proper oversight.
By Dave Daley - September 15, 2016

Tribes in Wisconsin and across the U.S. misusing millions in federal housing funds
In recent years, more than a dozen Indian tribes from North Carolina to Wisconsin to California have come under fire for misusing federal housing funds.
By Dave Daley - September 15, 2016

St. Croix Chippewa members have decried council secrecy for years
The way the St. Croix Chippewa Tribal Council operates in secrecy has gone largely unnoticed by federal watchdogs, but not by tribal members who have complained loudly about the practice for decades.
By Dave Daley - September 15, 2016

Press release on the launch of the Badger Institute's Federal Grant$tanding project
September 15, 2016