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Alternative to Earmarks: Report Shows Federal Agencies Likely to Distribute Funding Unfairly Unless Congress Acts


WASHINGTON, DC – Federal funding for important local projects and programs, such as emergency room funding, city road projects or bullet proof vests for sheriff’s departments, will be distributed unfairly and unevenly over the next two years unless Congress provides clear and concise direction to the federal agencies charged with distributing these funds, according to a study by The Ferguson Group (TFG), a leading government relations firm that represents over 200 local public agencies.

Lobbyists at TFG who represent many of these local governments conducted an analysis of where the money went when federal agencies distributed federal funds the last time Congress stopped the process of earmarking and left funding decisions at the sole discretion of federal agencies in 2007.

The results were disastrous.

According to the analysis, Federal agencies drastically cut the number of grants and awarded to a very few select entities. In most cases, only the largest cities and counties received funding. For example, in 2006 when Congress earmarked law enforcement technology programs, 424 law enforcement agency projects received funding. In 2007, when the federal agencies alone controlled funding, only 37 projects were funded.

“For some traditionally earmarked programs in 2007, many local governments were not even invited to apply for competitive grant funding and did not even have the option to receive any assistance,” said William Ferguson, founder and CEO of The Ferguson Group, which employs 24 lobbyists, most of whom advocate on behalf of cities, counties and other public agencies. “This is devastating to local communities that are trying to purchase bullet proof vests, deter gang violence, complete a road project or improve patient care in a local hospital.”

TFG delivered its analysis to Members of Congress on Thursday, February 10, and included a set of recommendations that urged Congress to provide legislative direction to federal agencies.

“Congress must ensure that federal funds are widely distributed to worthy projects across the country; not just to a select few projects,” Ferguson said. “Many smaller communities do not have the political muscle to ensure that the federal agencies recognize and address their needs.”

To read the full report and recommendations, visit



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