Local Government Modernization

October 11, 1967

Report Outline
Current Strains on Local Government
Local Government in a Federal System
Action to Strengthen Local Government

Current Strains on Local Government

Pressures for Change in the City and County

Local government in the United States is being strained beyond its capacity to serve the great expanses of population building up in and around big urban centers. A frustration common to cities and suburbs is the inadequacy of existing governmental machinery to deal with the complexity and range of their problems. At the same time, the urban migration is depopulating the countryside to the point that local government is not easily supported in many rural areas.

The nation's top business leadership has recently expressed the belief that local government will gradually wither away unless it is reorganized in terms of 20th century needs. Its survival is considered essential on two grounds: first, the traditional one that government governs best when it is closest to the people; and second, that local government is necessary to the operation of federally financed programs across the nation.

The United States Chamber of Commerce is among business and public groups that within the past year have called for a political restructuring in city hall and county courthouse. The Chamber in May 1967 published a compilation of how-to-do-it ideas for community leaders. The Committee for Economic Development, whose membership also embraces the summit of American business, has warned against efforts merely to “tidy up a chaotic situation.” The group's Research and Policy Committee recommended last year that the number of local governments be reduced by four-fifths. It considered that only the two newest states—Alaska and Hawaii—had “patterns of local government deliberately designed for modern conditions.” Many cities are hamstrung by unwieldy restrictions imposed by state constitutions and legislatures.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
State and Local Governments
Feb. 26, 2021  State Finances
Sep. 11, 2009  State Budget Crisis
Oct. 03, 2003  State Budget Crises
Dec. 24, 1971  State Legislatures in Transition
Sep. 25, 1968  State Constitutional Reform
Oct. 11, 1967  Local Government Modernization
Aug. 15, 1956  Metropolitan Government
May 25, 1939  Reorganization of City Government
Feb. 24, 1939  Reorganization of County Government
May 23, 1938  Reorganization of State Governments
Oct. 29, 1937  State Control of Local Government
Sep. 01, 1936  Consolidation of Local Governments
Jan. 03, 1933  Reorganization of Local Government
Jun. 02, 1930  Changes in American City Government
Oct. 30, 1924  Political Statistics of the States
Regional Planning and Urbanization
State, Local, and Intergovernmental Relations