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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS REGARDING
EXPENDITURE DATA

What are juvenile justice expenditures?
Title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, which outlines the JABG Program, requires that states allocate funds to localities based on a formula consisting in part of juvenile justice expenditures. The term "juvenile justice expenditures" is defined as expenditures associated with the juvenile justice system, including expenditures in connection with the 17 purpose areas and with other activities associated with prosecutorial, judicial, and corrections services.

Currently, these expenditures are not collected at the national level, and where they are collected in the states, are not comparable or complete enough to use in the formula.   As a result, adult criminal justice expenditures, which are available at the national level, are used in the formula.

Where do local justice expenditure data come from?
The Census Bureau collects justice expenditure data through two separate programs: the Census of Governments, conducted every five years, and the Annual Public Finances Survey.

What is a "unit of local government"?
Title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act defines "unit of local government" as "a county, township, city or political subdivision of a county, township, or city, that is a unit of local government as determined by the Secretary of Commerce for general statistical purposes." The District of Columbia and recognized governing bodies of Indian tribes and Alaskan Native villages are also defined as local units of governments. This language refers to the Census Bureau definition of "general purpose local government." Not all of these local units of government have justice-related functions and hence have no justice-related expenditures.

How are "justice expenditures" defined by the Census Bureau?
In the expenditure data used from the Census Bureau, justice expenditures include three general categories:  police protection, corrections, and judicial and legal services.   For the JABG program, however, only the corrections and judicial/legal expenditures are used in the formula.  Only direct current operating expenditures for these activities are used.  Direct current operating expenditures cover salaries, wages, fees, commissions, and the purchase of supplies, materials, and contractual services.   Excluded are capital outlays such as construction, the purchase of land and existing structures, and the purchase of equipment with a life expectancy of more than five years.  Also excluded are intergovernmental expenditures such as payments from one government to another for boarding prisoners.

Why are capital outlay and intergovernmental expenditures excluded?
Capital outlay expenditures are excluded because (1) construction costs can cause wide swings in total justice expenditures from year to year for a given jurisdiction due to jail construction, for example, and (2) it is not possible to break out equipment purchases from costs for the purchase of land and existing structures on a consistent basis for all governments.   Intergovernmental expenditures are excluded because they comprise less than three-tenths of one percent (0.3%) of total local justice expenditures and would be "double counted" in local totals -- once when the intergovernmental payment is made and once when the recipient government uses the money to pay for goods and services.

How are the Census expenditure data collected?
The Census Bureau collects justice expenditure data through two separate programs. The most comprehensive, the Census of Governments, conducted every five years, collects expenditure data for all state and local governments in the nation. It uses three methods, depending on the size of the unit of government. On-site data collection is used for the largest and most complex local governments. Consolidated data submissions on computer tapes from a single state agency are used in about 35 states for approximately 50,000 additional local governments. The rest of the local governments respond via mail survey. For a discussion of the methodology used, see Expenditure Methodology.

The Annual Public Finances Survey also uses the three methods of data collection, but covers only a sample of all the units in the Census.

How many local governments are included in these Census programs?
The Census of Governments includes all local governments (there were approximately 20,145 general purpose local governments surveyed in 2007). The Census of Governments is conducted every five years; the most current year of data available is 2007. The Public Finances Survey is conducted every year. The Public Finances Survey includes a sample of about 5,800 general purpose local governments: 1,580 counties, 3,350 cities, and 880 townships. All counties with a population over 100,000 and cities and townships over 50,000 are included in the sample. Smaller local governments may be included in the survey depending upon their degree of financial activity.

Why are those the most recent years available?
In order for the Census Bureau to collect expenditure data, each state and local government must complete its fiscal year and have time to perform all the final year-end accounting and produce the official government financial records that are used in the compilation of data. Then, adequate time is required for the review and processing of data not just from the general purpose governments in the surveys, but also from the special and independent school districts surveyed by the Census Bureau (which are included in the Census data survey but are not eligible for JABG grants). The complete Census deals with a total of 85,000 governments (the 39,000 general purpose local governments, plus 46,000 special purpose governments). Due to the time lag between the available expenditure data, only the most recent year of data available are used in the formula.

What data are being used for my state calculations?
In order to include all eligible localities, only data collected in the most recent Census of Governments survey are used to determine JABG allocation amounts. The exception to this is Hawaii; all four counties in Hawaii report annually and data from the three most recent surveys are used in the formula. Direct current operating expenditures for two categories, judicial/legal and corrections expenditures, are included in the allocation calculations.

What will JRSA provide?
The allocation spreadsheets, provided for each state on the State Profile page, provides the proportion of state crime and expenditures for each locality. Justice expenditures data from both the Census of Governments Surveys and Public Finances Surveys are available, upon request.

Does my state have to use the Census Bureau data in our JABG formula computations?
No. The JABG legislation states that if the state has reason to believe that the reported rates of Part 1 violent crimes or justice expenditures for a unit of local government is insufficient or inaccurate, the State may use the best available comparable data. Some states have internal data collection systems that can provide more current, and perhaps more comprehensive, justice expenditure data. If you're not sure whether such data are available in your state, try contacting your state's Statistical Analysis Center Director or Chief Financial Officer.