What percentage of the District’s revenue is from federal dollars?

On  February 25, Pew released a study on the proportion of federal funds in each state’s total revenue between fiscal year 2000 and fiscal year 2013.  The study uses the Annual Survey of State Government Finances  and shows that the federal share of total state revenue reverted back from near historic highs during the Great Recession to historical norms in fiscal year 2013.

To our dismay, the U.S. Census did not release comparative revenue data for the District of Columbia, so we compiled the data ourselves to see how the District would compare to the rest of the country.

Calculating the District’s federal revenue is not as easy as it seems.  The District – like every other state – receives project based grants and formula based grants.  It differs in that it receives additional contributions from the federal government – including payments to administer the District’s court system and payments to offset unusual costs incurred as a result of the federal government’s use of the District (the Revitalization Act of 1997 specifies these payments).

Using the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, which is an annual audit of the District’s finances, and by totaling federal contributions to the District’s court system, we calculated the District’s federal share of total revenue between fiscal year 2000 and fiscal year 2013.

The graph below shows the percentage of District revenue that was federal dollars since fiscal year 2000 and draws a comparison with the total 50 state federal share.  The District’s federal share of total revenue is historically one of the highest in the country.  This seems to be primarily driven by the District’s unique status as the nation’s capital, high concentration of poverty, and federally operated court system.

Overall Comparison
We also compared the District’s federal share of total revenue to both Maryland and Virginia.  The District’s federal share in fiscal year 2013 was the highest in the region and was larger than Virginia (22.9%)  and Maryland (28.6%).  The District was the highest in the region every year since 2000 with two exceptions – fiscal year 2011 and fiscal year 2012 – when we were overtaken by Maryland.

Neighbor Comparison
Overall the District had the 31st highest federal share of total revenue in the country in fiscal year 2013.  This was a large drop from its peak in fiscal year 2000 when the District had the seventh highest share in the country.  Here’s how the District compared to every state in fiscal year 2013:All States

What exactly is this data? We used data from the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for every year starting in 2000 through 2013 to obtain total revenue and federal government contributions.  In order to calculate federal spending on the District’s judicial system, we collected information from the District of Columbia Budget Request Act and the Budget of the United States Government starting  in fiscal year 2000 through fiscal year 2013.  Federal share percentages for all 50 states were collected from Pew Research and the U.S. Census Annual Survey of State Government Finances.

2 thoughts on “What percentage of the District’s revenue is from federal dollars?

  1. Nationally, one would presume that the decline was due to sequestration and other cuts in Federal spending. For DC, one wonders if the decline is due more to increases in other revenue sources versus declines in Federal sources.


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