What is Significant Features of American Federalism?

Significant Features of American Federalism is an online data portal that brings together data and information on different aspects of federalism, intergovernmental relations, and multilevel democracy in the United States.

The structure and content of Significant Features of American Federalism is informed in part by Significant Features of Fiscal Federalism, which, until 1996, was prepared annually by the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR).

What is the purpose of Significant Features of American Federalism?

While numerous data sources are available online on a host of issues related to federalism intergovernmental relations, these data sources are spread across various agencies rather than being available through a common portal. Some of these data sources are not readily accessible without detailed knowledge of the specific data set or require extensive data management skills. On the other end of the spectrum, some data is made available online through reports or pre-canned visualization tools that limits the ways in which the source data can be analyzed.

It is the intent of Significant Features of American Federalism to present data and information on American federalism and intergovernmental relations in an accessible manner to facilitate evidence-based analysis and policy discussions by elected officials, policy makers, researchers and citizens.

The Significant Features data portal aims to lower the threshold for public officials, citizens, and scholars to access federal, state and local level data so that they themselves can engage in basic research on relevant questions related to federalism and intergovernmental relations.

What data sources does Significant Features of American Federalism rely on?

Significant Features of American Federalism relies on authoritative data sources. Data sources from which data tables are prepared include the Census of Population and Housing; the American Community Survey; the Census of Governments; federal budget documents (OMB); as well as other surveys and data collections. (See more details on the various data sources.)

How is Significant Features of American Federalism structured?

In order to be as accessible as possible, the data portal is structured like an online data book.

Data and information on American Federalism are grouped into four main sections: (1) Institutional Features of American Federalism; (2) Governance Features of American Federalism; (3) Administrative Features of American Federalism; and (4) Fiscal Features of American Federalism.

Each of these main sections is further divided into further thematic sub-sections, each of which contains one or more relevant data tables.

In order to be as accessible as possible, and in order for the user to engage in analysis himself or herself, data tables are made available in Excel format. Whenever possible, data tables provide information for federal, state and local governments. Whenever possible, local level data are presented by type of local government or on a county-by-county basis.

How is Significant Features of American Federalism produced?

The Significant Features data portal is maintained by the National Academy of Public Administration Standing Panel on Intergovernmental Systems as a public good that is produced as a collaborative online effort.

Data will generally be provided for the latest year for which data are available, with historical data presented as available. Data tables and links to background information will be added incrementally to the each of the sections.

Many of the original data sources provide additional historical data and/or more detailed data.


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