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Study: Federally Funded Faith-Based Programs Lack Oversight

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A new study suggests that monitoring and oversight of federally funded faith-based organizations is lax, the Philanthropy News Digest reported August 7.

The study, “Federal Policy on the Ground: Faith-Based Organizations Delivering Local Services,” conducted by the nonpartisan, Washington D.C.-based Urban Institute, examined the major block-grant programs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in relation to the Charitable Choice initiative and the Compassion Capital Fund (CCF).

The study looked at programs in Birmingham, Ala., Boston, Mass., and Denver, Co. Among surveyed organizations, the study found, formal federal oversight of religious content is limited to financial audits that pay little attention to how services are provided, and that state and local agencies are remiss in effective monitoring of these programs and their providers.

In addition, while the percentage of faith-based groups receiving block-grant funding has changed little since the beginning of Charitable Choice in 1996, between 50 and 70 percent of grants under the Compassion Capital program now go to religious organizations.

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