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Group Raps States' Monitoring Of Block-Grant Expenditures

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Washington--An independent assessment of the Education Department's initial review of how federal block-grant funds have been used charges that many of the 23 jurisdictions whose programs were evaluated by the department have not adequately monitored local school districts' use of Chapter 2 money.

The analysis by the National Committee for Citizens in Education, a nonprofit group, shows that other problems uncovered by the federal evaluators include poor control of private schools' participation in the program and inadequate oversight of parental and public involvement.

The Education Department has not to date published its own analysis or summary of the Chapter 2 evaluators' findings.

In response to the problems, the department has asked most of the jurisdictions involved to strengthen their monitoring systems. The review included 21 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and took place between February and October of 1984.

The department will review the other 29 states this year.

Inadequate Controls Charged

"Most states have not established the administrative or fiscal controls necessary to assure that federal block grants are being used according to law," said a press release accompanying the ncce analysis.

The assessment is the work of Anne Henderson, a research associate for the committee who has monitored the implementation of the law under a grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

In a study last year, the General Accounting Office, the Congressional investigative agency, did not find serious monitoring problems with Chapter 2. The gao did note, however, that 10 of the 13 states examined had slackened their monitoring activities after the enactment of the block grant.

In a letter to Ms. Henderson written before the ncce report's release, the deputy assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, Lois A. Bowman, noting that the block-grant program is still relatively new, requested that problems uncovered by the department's evaluators not be stressed in the ncce report.

Ms. Henderson had asked the department to comment on her findings.

The block-grant program, officially known as Chapter 2 of the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act of 1981, merged some 28 categorical programs. This year, the Chapter 2 budget is about $500 million.

The department undertook its evaluation of how states administer the program after the Congress in late 1983 passed technical amendments to the law, emphasizing the need for stronger state monitoring.

Copies of "Anything Goes: An Analysis of the Education Department's Monitoring of Chapter 2 in 21 States" are available for $2.50 from ncce, Suite 410, Wilde Lake Village Green, Columbia, Md. 21044.--jh

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