Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: April 29, 2021
Structural Features and Function
Michael H. Cecire
This report describes the structure, activities, legislative history, and funding history of
Analyst in
seven federal regional commissions and authorities: the Appalachian Regional
Intergovernmental
Commission; the Delta Regional Authority; the Denali Commission; the Northern
Relations and Economic
Border Regional Commission; the Northern Great Plains Regional Authority; the
Development Policy

Southeast Crescent Regional Commission; and the Southwest Border Regional
Commission.

Al seven regional commissions and authorities are broadly modeled after the Appalachian Regional Commission
structure, which is composed of a federal co-chair appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the
Senate, and the member state governors, of which one is appointed the state co-chair. This structure is broadly
replicated in the other commissions and authorities, albeit with notable variations and exceptions to local contexts.
In addition, the service areas for al of the federal regional commissions and authorities are defined in statute and
thus can only be amended or modified through congressional action. While the service areas for the federal
regional commissions and authorities have shifted over time, those jurisdictions have not changed radical y in
their respective service lives.
Of the seven federal regional commissions and authorities, four could be considered active: the Appalachian
Regional Commission; the Delta Regional Authority; the Denali Commission; and the Northern Border Regional
Commission.
The four active regional commissions and authority received $15 mil ion to $180 mil ion in appropriations in
FY2021 for their various activities. Each of the four functioning regional commissions and authority engage in
economic development to varying extents, and address multiple programmatic activities in their respective service
areas. These activities may include, but are not limited to: basic infrastructure; energy; ecology/environment and
natural resources; workforce/labor; and business development.
Though they are federal y chartered, receive congressional appropriations for their administration and activities,
and include an appointed federal representative in their respective leadership structures (the federal co-chair and
his/her alternate, as applicable), the federal regional commissions and authorities are quasi-governmental
partnerships between the federal government and the constituent state(s) of a given authority or commission. This
partnership structure, which also typical y includes substantial input and efforts at the sub-state level, represents a
unique federal approach to economic development and a potential y flexible mechanism for coordinating strategic
economic development goals to local, state, and multi-state/regional priorities and contexts.
Congress has expressed interest in the federal regional commissions and authorities pursuant to its appropriations
and oversight authority, as wel as its interest in facilitating economic development programming. Given relevant
congressional interest, the federal regional commissions and authorities provide a model of functioning economic
development approaches that are place-based, intergovernmental, and multifaceted in their programmatic
orientation (e.g., infrastructure, energy, environment/ecology, workforce, business development).
Congressional Research Service


link to page 6 link to page 6 link to page 7 link to page 7 link to page 8 link to page 9 link to page 10 link to page 10 link to page 10 link to page 11 link to page 12 link to page 12 link to page 13 link to page 14 link to page 14 link to page 15 link to page 15 link to page 16 link to page 17 link to page 17 link to page 18 link to page 19 link to page 20 link to page 20 link to page 21 link to page 21 link to page 22 link to page 23 link to page 23 link to page 24 link to page 24 link to page 26 link to page 26 link to page 27 link to page 28 link to page 29 link to page 29 link to page 29 link to page 30 link to page 30 link to page 31 link to page 31 link to page 32 link to page 32 link to page 33 Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

Contents
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 1
Appalachian Regional Commission ................................................................................... 1

Structure and Activities .............................................................................................. 2
Commission Structure ........................................................................................... 2
Regional Development Plan ................................................................................... 3
Distressed Counties .............................................................................................. 4
Legislative History .................................................................................................... 5
Council of Appalachian Governors.......................................................................... 5
Appalachian Regional Development Act .................................................................. 5
Major Amendments to the ARC Before 2008 ............................................................ 6
The Appalachian Regional Development Act Amendments of 2008.............................. 7
Funding History ........................................................................................................ 7
Delta Regional Authority.................................................................................................. 8
Overview of Structure and Activities ............................................................................ 9
Authority Structure ............................................................................................... 9
DRA Strategic Planning ...................................................................................... 10
Distress Designations.......................................................................................... 10
States’ Economic Development Assistance Program ................................................ 11
Legislative History .................................................................................................. 12
Key Legislative Activity ...................................................................................... 12
Funding History ...................................................................................................... 13
Denali Commission ....................................................................................................... 14
Overview of Structure and Activities .......................................................................... 15
Commission Structure ......................................................................................... 15
Distressed Areas................................................................................................. 16
Recent Activities ................................................................................................ 16

Legislative History .................................................................................................. 17
Funding History ...................................................................................................... 18
Northern Border Regional Commission ............................................................................ 18
Overview of Structure and Activities .......................................................................... 19
Program Areas ................................................................................................... 19
Strategic Plan .................................................................................................... 21
Economic and Demographic Distress .................................................................... 21
Legislative History .................................................................................................. 22
Funding History ...................................................................................................... 23
Northern Great Plains Regional Authority ......................................................................... 24
Structure and Activities ............................................................................................ 24
Authority Structure ............................................................................................. 24
Activities and Administration ............................................................................... 25
Legislative History .................................................................................................. 25
Funding History ...................................................................................................... 26
Southeast Crescent Regional Commission......................................................................... 26
Overview of Structure and Activities .......................................................................... 27
Legislative History .................................................................................................. 27

Funding History ...................................................................................................... 28
Congressional Research Service

link to page 34 link to page 34 link to page 34 link to page 35 link to page 36 link to page 7 link to page 14 link to page 20 link to page 24 link to page 29 link to page 32 link to page 34 link to page 37 link to page 39 link to page 13 link to page 16 link to page 19 link to page 23 link to page 28 link to page 33 link to page 35 link to page 37 link to page 40 link to page 43 link to page 46 link to page 48 link to page 48 link to page 49 link to page 50 link to page 51 Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

Southwest Border Regional Commission .......................................................................... 29
Overview of Structure and Activities .......................................................................... 29
Legislative History .................................................................................................. 29
Funding History ...................................................................................................... 30
Concluding Notes ......................................................................................................... 31

Figures
Figure 1. Map of the Appalachian Regional Commission ...................................................... 2
Figure 2. Map of the Delta Regional Authority .................................................................... 9
Figure 3. Map of the Denali Commission .......................................................................... 15
Figure 4. Map of the Northern Border Regional Commission ............................................... 19
Figure 5. Map of the Northern Great Plains Regional Authority ............................................ 24
Figure 6. Map of the Southeast Crescent Regional Commission ........................................... 27
Figure 7. Map of the Southwest Border Regional Commission ............................................. 29

Figure A-1. Structure and Activities of the Commissions and Authorities ............................... 32
Figure B-1. National Map of the Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities .................... 34

Tables
Table 1. ARC: Authorized and Appropriated Funding, FY2010-FY2021 .................................. 8
Table 2. DRA Allocations by State, FY2021 ...................................................................... 11
Table 3. DRA: Authorized and Appropriated Funding, FY2010-FY2021................................ 14
Table 4. Denali Commission: Authorized and Appropriated Funding, FY2010-FY2021........... 18
Table 5. NBRC Authorized and Appropriated Funding, FY2010-FY2021 .............................. 23
Table 6. SCRC Authorized and Appropriated Funding, FY2010-FY2021 ............................... 28
Table 7. SBRC Authorized and Appropriated Funding, FY2010-FY2021 ............................... 30

Table A-1. Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities .................................................. 32
Table C-1. Historical Appropriations: Federal Regional Commissions (FY1986-FY2021) ........ 35
Table D-1. ARC Counties by Designated Distress .............................................................. 38
Table D-2. DRA Counties by State and Distress ................................................................. 41
Table D-3. Denali Commission Distressed Communities List............................................... 43
Table D-4. NBRC Counties by Distress Designation........................................................... 43
Table D-5. Statutory Jurisdiction of NGPRA ..................................................................... 44
Table D-6. Statutory Jurisdiction of SCRC ........................................................................ 45
Table D-7. Statutory Jurisdiction of SBRC ........................................................................ 46

Congressional Research Service

link to page 37 link to page 39 link to page 40 link to page 43 link to page 51 Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

Appendixes
Appendix A. Basic Information at a Glance....................................................................... 32
Appendix B. Map of Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities .................................... 34
Appendix C. Historical Appropriations ............................................................................. 35
Appendix D. Service Areas of Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities ....................... 38

Contacts
Author Information ....................................................................................................... 46


Congressional Research Service

link to page 37 link to page 37 link to page 39 Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

Introduction
This report describes the structure, activities, legislative history, and funding history of seven
federal y chartered regional commissions and authorities: the Appalachian Regional Commission
(ARC); the Delta Regional Authority (DRA); the Denali Commission; the Northern Border
Regional Commission (NBRC); the Northern Great Plains Regional Authority (NGPRA); the
Southeast Crescent Regional Commission (SCRC); and the Southwest Border Regional
Commission (SBRC) (Table A-1). The federal regional commissions are also functioning
examples of place-based and intergovernmental approaches to economic development, which
receive regular congressional interest.1
The federal regional commissions and authorities integrate federal and state economic
development priorities alongside regional and local considerations (Figure A-1). As federal y
chartered agencies created by acts of Congress, the federal regional commissions and authorities
depend on congressional appropriations for their activities and administration, and are subject to
congressional oversight.
Seven federal regional commissions and authorities were authorized by Congress to address
instances of major economic distress in certain defined socio-economic regions, with al but one
(Alaska’s Denali Commission) being multi-state regions (Figure B-1). The first such federal
regional commission, the Appalachian Regional Commission, was founded in 1965. The other
commissions and authorities may have roots in the intervening decades, but were not founded
until 1998 (Denali), 2000 (Delta Regional Authority), and 2002 (the Northern Great Plains
Regional Authority). The most recent commissions—Northern Border Regional Commission,
Southeast Crescent Regional Commission, and Southwest Border Regional Commission—were
authorized in 2008.
Four of the seven entities—the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Delta Regional Authority,
the Denali Commission, and the Northern Border Regional Commission—are currently active
and receive regular annual appropriations.
Certain strategic emphases and programs have evolved over time in each of the functioning
federal regional commissions and authorities. However, their overarching missions to address
economic distress have not changed, and their associated activities have broadly remained
consistent to those goals as funding has al owed. In practice, the functioning federal regional
commissions and authorities engage in their respective economic development efforts through
multiple program areas, which may include, but are not limited to basic infrastructure; energy;
ecology/environment and natural resources; workforce/labor; and business development.
Appalachian Regional Commission
The Appalachian Regional Commission was established in 1965 to address economic distress in
the Appalachian region.2 The ARC’s jurisdiction spans 420 counties in Alabama, Georgia,
Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South

1 See, for example, recent congressional interest and legislative action on Opportunity Zones ( CRS Report R45152, Tax
Incentives for Opportunity Zones
, by Sean Lowry and Donald J. Marples) and New Market T ax Credits (CRS Report
RL34402, New Markets Tax Credit: An Introduction, by Donald J. Marples and Sean Lowry), and previous federal and
congressional action on “Promise Zones” (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Promise Zones
Overview
, https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/promise-zones/promise-zones-overview/); as well as various
legislation relating to the federal regional commissions and authorities themselves.
2 40 U.S.C. §§14101-14704.
Congressional Research Service

1

link to page 7
Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia (Figure 1). The ARC was original y created to
address severe economic disparities between Appalachia and that of the broader United States;
recently, its mission has grown to include regional competitiveness in a global economic
environment.
Figure 1. Map of the Appalachian Regional Commission
ARC service area, by designations of county distress

Source: Compiled by CRS using data from the Appalachian Regional Commission and Esri Data and Maps 2018.
Notes: West Virginia is the only state with al counties within the ARC’s jurisdiction.
Structure and Activities
Commission Structure
According to the authorizing legislation, the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965, as
amended,3 the ARC is a federal y chartered, regional economic development entity led by a
federal co-chair, whose term is open-ended, and the 13 participating state governors, of which one
serves as the state co-chair for a term of “at least one year.”4 The federal co-chair is appointed by
the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The authorizing act also al ows for the
appointment of federal and state alternates to the commission. The ARC is a federal-state
partnership, with administrative costs shared equal y by the federal government and member
states, while economic development activities are funded by congressional appropriations.

3 P.L. 89-4.
4 Appalachian Regional Commission, The ARC Code, https://www.arc.gov/publications/ARCCode.asp.
Congressional Research Service

2

Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

Regional Development Plan
According to authorizing legislation and the ARC code,5 the ARC’s programs abide by a
Regional Development Plan (RDP), which includes documents prepared by the states and the
commission. The RDP is comprised of the ARC’s strategic plan, its bylaws, member state
development plans, each participating state’s annual strategy statement, the commission’s annual
program budget, and the commission’s internal implementation and performance management
guidelines.
The RDP integrates local, state, and federal economic development priorities into a common
regional agenda. Through state plans and annual work statements, states establish goals,
priorities, and agendas for fulfil ing them. State planning typical y includes consulting with local
development districts (LDDs), which are multicounty organizations that are associated with and
financial y supported by the ARC and advise on local priorities.6
There are 73 ARC-associated LDDs. They may be conduits for funding for other eligible
organizations, and may also themselves be ARC grantees.7 State and local governments,
governmental entities, and nonprofit organizations are eligible for ARC investments, including
both federal- and also state-designated tribal entities. Notably, non-federal y recognized, state-
designated tribal entities are eligible to receive ARC funding, which is an exception to the general
rarity of federal funds being available to non-federal y recognized tribal entities.8
ARC’s strategic plan is a five-year document, reviewed annual y, and revised as necessary. The
current strategic plan, adopted in November 2015,9 prioritizes five investment goals:
1. entrepreneurial and business development;
2. workforce development;
3. infrastructure development;
4. natural and cultural assets; and
5. leadership and community capacity.
The ARC’s investment activities are divided into 10 program areas:10

5 Appalachian Regional Commission, ARC Code, 2018, https://www.arc.gov/publications/ARCCodeContents.asp.
6 LDDs are not exclusive to the ARC. T he DRA and NBRC also make use of them, and other inactive commissions and
authorities are authorized to organize and/or support them. Designated LDDs may also be organized as Economic
Development Administration (EDA)-designated economic development districts (EDDs), which serve a similar
purpose. T hey may also be co-located with Small Business Administration-affiliated small business development
centers (SBDCs).
7 Appalachian Regional Commission, Local Development Districts, https://www.arc.gov/about/
LocalDevelopmentDistricts.asp.
8 See U.S. Government Accountability Office, Indian Issues: Federal Funding for Non-Federally Recognized Tribes,
12-348, April 2012, https://www.gao.gov/assets/600/590102.pdf.
9 Appalachian Regional Commission, Investing in Appalachia’s Future: T he Appalachian Regional Commission’s
Five-Year Strategic Plan for Capitalizing on Appalachia’s Opportunities, 2016 –2020, https://www.arc.gov/about/
arc2016-2020strategicplan.asp.
10 Appalachian Regional Commission, Program Areas, https://www.arc.gov/program_areas/index.asp.
Congressional Research Service

3

Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

 asset-based development;11
 health;
 community infrastructure;
 leadership development and
 education and training;
capacity building;




energy;
telecommunications;
 entrepreneurship and
 tourism development; and
business development;
 transportation.
These program areas can be funded through five types of eligible activities:12
1. business development and entrepreneurship, through grants to help create and
retain jobs in the region, including through targeted loan funds;
2. education and training, for projects that “develop, support, or expand education
and training programs”;
3. health care, through funding for “equipment and demonstration projects” and
sometimes for facility construction and renovation, including hospital and
community health services;
4. physical infrastructure, including funds for basic infrastructure services such as
water and sewer facilities, as wel as housing and telecommunications; and
5. leadership development and civic capacity, such as community-based strategic
plans, training for local leaders, and organizational support.
While most funds are used for economic development grants, approximately $50 mil ion is
reserved for the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization
(POWER) Initiative.13 The POWER Initiative began in 2015 to provide economic development
funding for addressing economic and labor dislocations caused by energy transition principal y in
coal communities in the Appalachian region.14
Distressed Counties
The ARC is statutorily obligated to designate counties according to levels of economic distress.15
Distress designations influence funding priority and determine grant match requirements. Using
an index-based classification system, the ARC compares each county within its jurisdiction with
national averages based on three economic indicators:16 (1) three-year average unemployment
rates; (2) per capita market income; and (3) poverty rates. These factors are calculated into a

11 T he ARC defines asset-based development as “Appalachia’s [local] natural, cultural, structural, and leadership
resources.” T his includes cultural assets, ecological assets, agriculture, and other preexisting industries and resources
that may be leveraged for increased economic development. Appalachian Regional Commission, Asset-Based
Developm ent
, https://www.arc.gov/program_areas/index.asp?PROGRAM_AREA_ID=13.
12 Appalachian Regional Commission, About ARC Project Grants, https://www.arc.gov/funding/
ARCProjectGrants.asp.
13 Appalachian Regional Commission, Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization
(POWER) Initiative
, https://www.arc.gov/funding/POWER.asp.
14 T he White House, Office of the Press Secretary, FACT SHEET: The Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce
and Econom ic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative
, March 27, 2015, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-
office/2015/03/27/fact-sheet-partnerships-opportunity-and-workforce-and-economic-revitaliz.
15 42 U.S.C. §14526.
16 Appalachian Regional Commission, County Economic Status and Distressed Areas in Appalachia,
https://www.arc.gov/appalachian_region/CountyEconomicStatusandDistressedAreasinAppalachia.asp .
Congressional Research Service

4

Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

composite index value for each county, which are ranked and sorted into designated distress
levels.17 Each distress level corresponds to a given county’s ranking relative to that of the United
States as a whole. These designations are defined as follows by the ARC, starting from “worst”
distress:18
distressed counties, or those with values in the “worst” 10% of U.S. counties;
at-risk, which rank between worst 10% and 25%;
transitional, which rank between worst 25% and best 25%;
competitive, which rank between “best” 25% and best 10%; and
attainment, or those which rank in the best 10%.
The designated level of distress is statutorily tied to al owable funding levels by the ARC
(funding al owance), the balance of which must be met through grant matches from other funding
sources (including potential y other federal funds) unless a waiver or special dispensation is
permitted: distressed (80% funding al owance, 20% grant match); at-risk (70%); transitional
(50%); competitive (30%); and attainment (0% funding al owance). Exceptions can be made to
grant match thresholds. Attainment counties may be able to receive funding for projects where
sub-county areas are considered to be at higher levels of distress, and/or in those cases where the
inclusion of an attainment county in a multi-county project would benefit one or more non-
attainment counties or areas. In addition, special al owances may reduce or discharge matches,
and match requirements may be met with other federal funds.
Legislative History
Council of Appalachian Governors
In 1960,19 the Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee,
Virginia, and West Virginia governors formed the Council of Appalachian Governors to highlight
Appalachia’s extended economic distress and to press for increased federal involvement. In 1963,
President John F. Kennedy formed the President’s Appalachian Regional Commission (PARC)
and charged it with developing an economic development program for the region. PARC’s report,
issued in 1964,20 cal ed for the creation of an independent agency to coordinate federal and state
efforts to address infrastructure, natural resources, and human capital issues in the region. The
PARC also included some Ohio counties as part of the Appalachian region.
Appalachian Regional Development Act
In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Appalachian Regional Development Act,21 which
created the ARC to address the PARC’s recommendations, and added counties in New York and
Mississippi. The ARC was directed to administer or assist in the following initiatives:

17 Appalachian Regional Commission, Data Reports: County Economic Status, Fiscal Year 2020 , https://www.arc.gov/
reports/custom_report.asp?REPORT_ID=76.
18 Appalachian Regional Commission, Distressed Designation and County Economic Status Classification System, FY
2007–FY 2020
, https://www.arc.gov/research/SourceandMethodologyCount yEconomicStatusFY2007FY2020.asp.
19 Appalachian Regional Commission, ARC History, https://www.arc.gov/about/ARCHistory.asp.
20 Appalachian Regional Commission, Appalachia: A Report by the President’s Appalachian Regional Commission,
1964
, April 1964, https://www.arc.gov/about/
ARCAppalachiaAReportbythePresidentsAppalachianRegionalCommission1964.asp.
21 P.L. 89-4.
Congressional Research Service

5

Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

 The creation of the Appalachian Development Highway System;
 Establishing “Demonstration Health Facilities” to fund health infrastructure;
 Land stabilization, conservation, and erosion control programs;
 Timber development organizations, for purposes of forest management;
 Mining area restoration, for rehabilitating and/or revitalizing mining sites;
 A water resources survey;
 Vocational education programs; and
 Sewage treatment infrastructure.
Major Amendments to the ARC Before 2008
Appalachian Regional Development Act Amendments of 1975
In 1975, the ARC’s authorizing legislation was amended to require that state governors
themselves serve as the state representatives on the commission, overriding original statutory
language in which governors were permitted to appoint designated representatives.22 The
amendments also included provisions to expand public participation in ARC plans and programs.
They also required states to consult with local development districts and local governments and
authorized federal grants to the ARC to assist states in enhancing state development planning.
Appalachian Regional Development Reform Act of 1998
Legislative reforms in 1998 introduced county-level designations of distress.23 The legislation
organized county-level distress into three bands, from “worst” to “best”: distressed counties;
competitive counties; and attainment counties. The act imposed limitations on funding for
economical y strong counties: (1) “competitive,” which could only accept ARC funding for 30%
of project costs (with the 70% balance being subject to grant match requirements); and (2)
“attainment,” which were general y ineligible for funding, except through waivers or exceptions.
In addition, the act withdrew the ARC’s legislative mandate for certain programs, including the
land stabilization, conservation, and erosion control program; the timber development program;
the mining area restoration program; the water resource development and utilization survey; the
Appalachian airport safety improvements program (a program added in 1971); the sewage
treatment works program; and amendments to the Housing Act of 1954 from the original 1965
act.
Appalachian Regional Development Act Amendments of 2002
Legislation in 2002 expanded the ARC’s ability to support LDDs, introduced an emphasis on
ecological issues, and provided for a greater coordinating role by the ARC in federal economic
development activities.24 The amendments also provided new stipulations for the ARC’s grant
making, limiting the organization to funding 50% of project costs or 80% in designated distressed
counties. The amendments also expanded the ARC’s efforts in human capital development
projects, such as through various vocational, entrepreneurial, and skil training initiatives.

22 P.L. 94-188.
23 P.L. 105-393.
24 P.L. 107-149.
Congressional Research Service

6

link to page 13 Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

The Appalachian Regional Development Act Amendments of 2008
The Appalachian Regional Development Act Amendments of 2008 is the ARC’s most recent
substantive legislative development and reflects its current configuration.25 The amendments
included:
1. various limitations on project funding amounts and commission contributions;
2. the establishment of an economic and energy development initiative;
3. the expansion of county designations to include an “at-risk” designation; and
4. the expansion of the number of counties under the ARC’s jurisdiction.
The 2008 amendments introduced funding limitations for ARC grant activities as a whole, as wel
as to specific programs. According to the 2008 legislation, “the amount of the grant shal not
exceed 50 percent of administrative expenses.” However, at the ARC’s discretion, an LDD that
included a “distressed” county in its service area could provide for 75% of administrative
expenses of a relevant project, or 70% for “at-risk” counties. Eligible activities could only be
funded by the ARC at a maximum of 50% of the project cost,26 or 80% for distressed counties and
70% for “at-risk” counties. The act introduced special project categories, including (1)
demonstration health projects; (2) assistance for proposed low- and middle-income housing
projects; (3) the telecommunications and technology initiative; (4) the entrepreneurship initiative;
and (5) the regional skil s partnership. Final y, the “economic and energy development initiative”
provided for the ARC to fund activities supporting energy efficiency and renewable technologies.
The legislation expanded distress designations to include an “at-risk” category, or counties “most
at risk of becoming economical y distressed.” This raised the number of distress levels to five.27
The legislation also expanded ARC’s service area. Ten counties in four states were added to the
ARC, which represents the most recent expansion.
Funding History
The ARC is a federal-state partnership, with administrative costs shared equal y by the federal
government and states, while economic development activities are federal y funded. The ARC is
also the highest-funded of the federal regional commissions and authorities. Its funding (Table 1)
has increased 126% from approximately $73 mil ion in FY2008 to $180 mil ion in FY2021.
The ARC’s funding growth is attributable to incremental increases in appropriations along with
an approximately $50 mil ion increase in annual appropriated funds in FY2016 set aside to
support the POWER Initiative.28 The POWER Initiative was part of a wider federal effort under
the Obama Administration to support coal communities affected by the decline of the coal
industry.29 The FY2018 White House budget proposed to shutter the ARC as wel as the other

25 P.L. 110-371.
26 Where allowable, non-appropriated funds—such as those from states or localities—or even other non-ARC federal
funds may be used to fund the balance of the project costs.
27 T he five designations of distress are: distressed, at -risk, transitional, competitive, and attainment. The “transitional”
designation is not defined in statute, unlike the other four categories, but it is utilized as part of the five -level distress
criteria nonetheless.
28 P.L. 114-113.
29 For more information on the POWER Initiative, see CRS Report R46015, The POWER Initiative: Energy Transition
as Econom ic Developm ent
, by Michael H. Cecire.
Congressional Research Service

7

link to page 40 link to page 14 Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

federal regional commissions and authorities.30 Congress did not adopt these provisions from the
President’s budget, and continued to fund the ARC and other commissions.
Table 1. ARC: Authorized and Appropriated Funding, FY2010-FY2021
$ in mil ions

FY10 FY11 FY12 FY13 FY14 FY15 FY16 FY17 FY18 FY19 FY20
FY21
Appropriated
76.0
68.4
68.3
68.3
80.3
90.0
146.0
152.0
155.0
165.0
175.0
180.0
Funding
Authorized
105.0
108.0
110.0
110.0
110.0
110.0
110.0
110.0
110.0
110.0
110.0
110.0
Funding
Sources: Authorized funding amounts compiled by CRS using data from P.L. 110-234, P.L. 113-79, P.L. 115-334,
and P.L. 116-159. Appropriated funding amounts compiled by CRS using data from: P.L. 111-85; P.L. 112-10; P.L.
112-74; P.L. 113-6; P.L. 113-76; P.L. 113-235; P.L. 114-113; P.L. 115-31; P.L. 115-141; P.L. 115-244; P.L. 116-94;
and P.L. 116-260.
Note:
For an expanded historical and comparative view of appropriations, see Table C-1.
Delta Regional Authority
The Delta Regional Authority was established in 2000 to address economic distress in the
Mississippi River Delta region.31 The DRA aims to “improve regional economic opportunity by
helping to create jobs, build communities, and improve the lives of the 10 mil ion people”32 in
252 designated counties and parishes in Alabama, Arkansas, Il inois, Kentucky, Louisiana,
Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee (Figure 2).

30 Office of Management and Budget, Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2018 , Washington, DC,
May 23, 2017, https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/BUDGET -2018-BUD/pdf/BUDGET -2018-BUD.pdf.
31 P.L. 106-554.
32 Delta Regional Authority, About the Delta Regional Authority, https://dra.gov/about-dra/about-delta-regional-
authority/.
Congressional Research Service

8

link to page 17
Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

Figure 2. Map of the Delta Regional Authority

Source: Compiled by CRS using data from the Delta Regional Authority and Esri Data and Maps 2018.
Overview of Structure and Activities
Authority Structure
Like the ARC, the DRA is a federal-state partnership that shares administrative expenses equal y,
while activities are federal y funded. The DRA consists of a federal co-chair appointed by the
President with the advice and consent of the Senate, and the eight state governors, of which one is
state co-chair. The governors are permitted to appoint a designee to represent the state, who also
general y serves as the state alternate.33
Entities that are eligible to apply for DRA funding include:
1. state and local governments (state agencies, cities and counties/parishes);
2. public bodies; and
3. nonprofit entities.
These entities must apply for projects that operate in or are serving residents and communities
within the 252 counties/parishes of the DRA’s jurisdiction. Unlike the other federal regional
commissions and authorities, the DRA’s service area is defined not in any one piece of legislation
but through multiple legislative developments (see “Legislative History”). In addition, there
appears to be a mechanism for adding counties/parishes to the Authority administratively based
on bil text in the California Desert Protection Act of 1994 from the 103rd Congress (P.L. 103-

33 Delta Regional Authority, Board Members and Alternates, https://dra.gov/about-dra/board-members-and-alternates/.
Congressional Research Service

9

Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

433), which incorporated H.R. 4043, the Lower Mississippi Delta Initiatives Act of 1994 as Title
XI of the bil .34
DRA Strategic Planning
Funding determinations are assessed according to the DRA’s authorizing statute, its strategic
plan, state priorities, and distress designation.35 The DRA strategic plan articulates the authority’s
high-level economic development priorities. The current strategic plan—Moving the Delta
Forward
, Delta Regional Development Plan III—was released in April 2016 and is in effect
through 2021.36
The strategic plan lists three primary goals:
1. workforce competitiveness, to “advance the productivity and economic
competitiveness of the Delta workforce”;
2. strengthened infrastructure, to “strengthen the Delta’s physical, digital, and
capital connections to the global economy”; and
3. increased community capacity, to “facilitate local capacity building within Delta
communities, organizations, businesses, and individuals.”
State development plans are required by statute every five years to coincide with the strategic
plan, and reflect the economic development goals and priorities of member states and LDDs.37
The DRA funds projects through 44 LDDs,38 which are multicounty economic development
organizations financial y supported by the DRA and advise on local priorities. LDDs “provide
technical assistance, application support and review, and other services” to the DRA and entities
applying for funding. LDDs receive administrative fees paid from awarded DRA funds, which are
calculated as 5% of the first $100,000 of an award, and 1% for al dollars above that amount.
Distress Designations
The DRA determines a county or parish as distressed on an annual basis through the following
criteria:
1. an unemployment rate of 1% higher than the national average for the most recent
24-month period; and
2. a per capita income of 80% or less than the national per capita income.39

34 Of the 252 counties reported by the DRA to fall within its service area, 219 were incorporated through P.L. 100-460.
Another 20 counties in Alabama were included in P.L. 106-554 (16 counties) and P.L. 107-171 (four counties). P.L.
110-234 added 10 Louisiana parishes and two Mississippi counties. By this count, one county appears to have been
included administratively.
35 Delta Regional Authority, Eligibility & Funding Priorities, https://dra.gov/funding-programs-states-economic-
development/states-economic-development -assistance-program/eligibility-funding-priorities/.
36 Delta Regional Authority, Moving the Delta Forward, Delta Regional Development Plan III, April 2016,
https://dra.gov/images/uploads/content_files/DRA_RDP3-FINAL_APRIL2016.pdf.
37 Delta Regional Authority, Strategic Economic Development Plans: State Strategic Economic Development Plans,
2016, https://dra.gov/funding-programs/strategic-economic-development-plans-by-state/.
38 T he DRA lists 44 LDDs in good standing on its website, but notes in the 2018 States’ Economic Development
Assistance Program (SEDAP) Manual
that the DRA works with 45 LDDs. Delta Regional Authority, Local
Developm ent Districts
, https://dra.gov/funding-programs/local-development-districts/.
39 Delta Regional Authority, Distressed Counties and Parishes, https://dra.gov/funding-programs/states-economic-
development -assistance-program/distressed-counties-and-parishes/.
Congressional Research Service

10

link to page 16 Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

The DRA designates counties as either distressed or not, and distressed counties received priority
funding from DRA grant making activities. By statute, the DRA directs at least 75% of funds to
distressed counties; half of those funds must target transportation and basic infrastructure. As of
FY2018, 234 of the DRA’s 252 counties are considered distressed.
States’ Economic Development Assistance Program
The principal investment tool used by the DRA is the States’ Economic Development Assistance
Program (SEDAP), which “provides direct investment into community-based and regional
projects that address the DRA’s congressional y mandated four funding priorities.”40
The DRA’s four funding priorities are:
1. (1) basic public infrastructure;
2. (2) transportation infrastructure;
3. (3) workforce development; and
4. (4) business development (emphasizing entrepreneurship).
The DRA’s SEDAP funding is made available to each state according to a four-factor, formula-
derived al ocation that balances geographic breadth, population size, and economic distress
(Table 2).41
The factors and their respective weights are calculated as follows:
 Equity Factor (equal funding among eight states), 50%;
 Distressed Population (DRA counties/parishes), 20%;
 Distressed County Area (DRA counties/parishes), 20%; and
 Population Factor (DRA counties/parishes), 10%.
Table 2. DRA Allocations by State, FY2021
by order of funding al ocation

Share of Funding
Funding Allocation
Louisiana
20.16%
$2,994,043.31
Mississippi
15.42%
$2,290,216.42
Arkansas
14.62%
$2,170,906.27
Missouri
11.39%
$1,691,142.97
Tennessee
10.91%
$1,619,788.58
Alabama
10.28%
$1,526,997.65
Kentucky
9.10%
$1,351,133.61
Il inois
8.11%
$1,203,694.19
Total
100.00%
$14,847,923.00
Source: Data tabulated by CRS from the DRA website.

40 Delta Regional Authority, States’ Economic Development Assistance Program (SEDAP), https://dra.gov/funding-
programs-states-economic-development/states-economic-development-assistance-program/.
41 Delta Regional Authority, State Funding Allocations, 2021, https://dra.gov/funding-programs/state-funding-
allocations/.
Congressional Research Service

11

Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

DRA investments are awarded from state al ocations. SEDAP applications are accepted through
LDDs, and projects are sorted into tiers of priority. While al projects must be associated with one
of the DRA’s four funding priorities, additional prioritization determines the rank order of
awards, which include county-level distress designations; adherence to at least one of the federal
priority eligibility criteria (see below); adherence to at least one of the DRA Regional
Development Plan goals (from the strategic plan); and adherence to at least one of the state’s
DRA priorities.42
The federal priority eligibility criteria are as follows:
 Regional impact
 Merging and consolidating
 Multiple funding partners
public utilities


Emergency funding need
Broadband infrastructure


Registered apprenticeship
Water or wastewater rate
study (i.e., projects with
 Infrastructure
accredited rate study)
The DRA is also mandated to expend 50% of its appropriated SEDAP dollars on basic public and
transportation infrastructure projects, which lend additional weight to this particular criterion.43
Legislative History
In 1988, the Rural Development, Agriculture, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for
FY1989 (P.L. 100-460) appropriated $2 mil ion and included language that authorized the
creation of the Lower Mississippi Delta Development Commission. The LMDDC was a DRA
predecessor tasked with studying economic issues in the Delta and developing a 10-year
economic development plan. The LMDDC consisted of two commissioners appointed by the
President as wel as the governors of Arkansas, Il inois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi,
Missouri, and Tennessee. The commission was chaired by then-Governor Wil iam J. Clinton of
Arkansas, and the LMDDC released interim and final reports before completing its mandate in
1990. Later, in the White House, the Clinton Administration continued to show interest in an
expanded federal role in Mississippi Delta regional economic development.
Notably, P.L. 100-460’s $2 mil ion in appropriations were made available to “carry out H.R. 5378
and S. 2836, the Lower Mississippi Delta Development Act, as introduced in the House of
Representatives on September 26, 1988, and in the Senate on September 27, 1988.” Using this
language, those previously un-enacted bil s were “incorporated by reference” and enacted. P.L.
100-460 also provided a definition of the Lower Mississippi Delta region through the
incorporation of H.R. 5378 and S. 2836.
Key Legislative Activity
 In 1994, Congress enacted the Lower Mississippi Delta Region Heritage Study
Act, which built on the LMDDC’s recommendations. In particular, the 1994 act

42 Delta Regional Authority, Eligibility & Funding Priorities, 2021, https://dra.gov/funding-programs-states-economic-
development/states-economic-development -assistance-program/eligibility-funding-priorities/.
43 Delta Regional Authority, SEDAP Administrative Program Manual: FY2021, 2021, https://dra.gov/images/uploads/
content_files/SEDAP-Manual-2021.pdf.
Congressional Research Service

12

Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

saw the Department of the Interior conduct a study on key regional cultural,
natural, and heritage sites and locations in the Mississippi Delta region.
 In 1999, the Delta Regional Authority Act of 1999 was introduced in the House
(H.R. 2911) and Senate (S. 1622) to establish the DRA by amending the
Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act. Neither bil was enacted, but
they established the structure and mission later incorporated into the DRA.44
106th Congress
 In 2000, the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY2001 (P.L. 106-554)
included language authorizing the creation of the DRA based on the seven
participating states of the LMDDC, with the addition of Alabama and 16 of its
counties.
107th Congress
 The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, or 2002 farm bil (P.L.
107-171), amended voting procedures for DRA states, provided new funds for
Delta regional projects, and added four additional Alabama counties to the DRA.
110th Congress
 The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, or 2008 farm bil (P.L. 110-
234) reauthorized the DRA from FY2008 through FY2012 and expanded it to
include Beauregard, Bienvil e, Cameron, Claiborne, DeSoto, Jefferson Davis,
Red River, St. Mary, Vermil ion, and Webster Parishes in Louisiana; and Jasper
and Smith Counties in Mississippi.
113th Congress
 The Agricultural Act of 2014, or 2014 farm bil (P.L. 113-79) reauthorized the
DRA through FY2018.
115th Congress
 The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, or 2018 farm bil (P.L. 115-334),
reauthorized the DRA from FY2019 to FY2023,45 and emphasized Alabama’s
position as a “full member” of the DRA.
Funding History
Under “farm bil ” legislation, the DRA has consistently received funding authorizations of $30
mil ion annual y since it was first authorized. However, appropriations have fluctuated over the
years. Although the DRA was appropriated $20 mil ion in the same legislation authorizing its
creation,46 that amount was halved in 2002,47 and continued a downward trend through its funding
nadir of $5 mil ion in FY2004. However, funding had increased by FY2006 to $12 mil ion. Since

44 T he two bills contained the general basic authority, structure, geography, and mission that was carried over into the
DRA’s authorizing legislation.
45 See CRS In Focus IF11126, 2018 Farm Bill Primer: What Is the Farm Bill?, by Renée Johnson and Jim Monke.
46 P.L. 106-554.
47 P.L. 107-66.
Congressional Research Service

13

link to page 19 link to page 40 Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

FY2008, DRA’s annual appropriations have increased from almost $12 mil ion to the current
level of $30 mil ion (Table 3).
Table 3. DRA: Authorized and Appropriated Funding, FY2010-FY2021
$ in mil ions

FY10 FY11 FY12 FY13 FY14 FY15 FY16 FY17 FY18 FY19 FY20
FY21
Appropriated
13.00
11.70
11.68
11.68
12.00
12.00
25.00
25.00
25.00
25.00
25.00
25.00
Funding
Authorized
30.00
30.00
30.00
30.00
30.00
30.00
30.00
30.00
30.00
30.00
30.00
30.00
Funding
Sources: Appropriated funding amounts compiled by CRS using data from the fol owing: P.L. 111-85; P.L. 112-
10; P.L. 112-74; P.L. 113-6; P.L. 113-76; P.L. 113-235; P.L. 114-113; P.L. 115-31; P.L. 115-141; P.L. 115-244; P.L.
116-94; and P.L. 116-260.
Note: For an expanded historical and comparative view of appropriations, see Table C-1.
Denali Commission
The Denali Commission was established in 1998 to support rural economic development in
Alaska.48 It is “designed to provide critical utilities, infrastructure, and economic support
throughout Alaska.” The Denali Commission is unique as a single-state commission, and in its
reliance on federal funding for both administration and activities.

48 P.L. 105-277.
Congressional Research Service

14


Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

Figure 3. Map of the Denali Commission
service area by expanded and surrogate standards of distress

Source: Compiled by CRS using data from the Denali Commission and Esri Data and Maps 2018.
Overview of Structure and Activities
The commission’s statutory mission includes providing workforce and other economic
development assistance to distressed rural regions in Alaska. However, the commission no longer
engages in substantial activities in general economic development or transportation, which were
once core elements of the Denali Commission’s activities. Its recent activities are principal y
limited to coastal infrastructure protection and energy infrastructure and fuel storage projects.
Commission Structure
The Denali Commission’s structure is unique as the only commission with a single-state mandate.
The commission is comprised of seven members (or a designated nominee), including the federal
co-chair, appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce; the Alaska governor, who is state co-
chair (or his/her designated representative); the University of Alaska president; the Alaska
Municipal League president; the Alaska Federation of Natives president; the Alaska State AFL-
CIO president; and the Associated General Contractors of Alaska president.49
These structural novelties offer a different model compared to the organization typified by the
ARC and broadly adopted by the other functioning federal regional commissions and authorities.
For example, the federal co-chair’s appointment by the Secretary of Commerce, and not the

49 P.L. 105-277.
Congressional Research Service

15

Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

President with Senate confirmation, al ows for a potential y more expeditious appointment of a
federal co-chair.
The Denali Commission is required by law to create an annual work plan, which solicits project
proposals, guides activities, and informs a five-year strategic plan.50 The work plan is reviewed
by the federal co-chair, the Secretary of Commerce, and the Office of Management and Budget,
and is subject to a public comment period. The current FY2018-FY2022 strategic plan, released
in October 2017, lists four strategic goals and objectives: (1) facilities management; (2)
infrastructure protection from ecological change; (3) energy, including storage, production,
heating, and electricity; and (4) innovation and collaboration. The commission’s recent activities
largely focus on energy and infrastructure protection.51
Distressed Areas
The Denali Commission’s authorizing statute obligates the Commission to address economic
distress in rural areas of Alaska.52 As of 2018, the Commission utilizes two overlapping standards
to assess distress: a “surrogate standard,” adopted by the Commission in 2000, and an “expanded
standard.” These standards are applied to rural communities in Alaska and assessed by the Alaska
Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOL&WD), Research and Analysis Section.
DOL&WD uses the most current population, employment, and earnings data available to identify
Alaska communities and Census Designated Places considered “distressed.”
Appeals can be made to community distress determinations, but only through a demonstration
that DOL&WD data or analysis was erroneous, invalid, or outdated. New information “must
come from a verifiable source, and be robust and representative of the entire community and/or
population.” Appeals are accepted and adjudicated only for the same reporting year in question.
Recent Activities
The Denali Commission’s scope is more constrained compared to the other federal regional
commissions and authorities. The organization reports that due to funding constraints,53 the
commission reduced its involvement in what might be considered traditional economic
development and, instead, focused on rural fuel and energy infrastructure and coastal protection
efforts.54
Since the Denali Commission’s founding, bulk fuel safety and security, energy reliability and
security, transportation system improvements, and healthcare projects have commanded the vast
majority of Commission projects.55 Of these, only energy reliability and security and bulk fuel
safety and security projects remain active and are stil funded. Vil age infrastructure protection—a
program launched in 2015 to address community infrastructure threatened by erosion, flooding

50 Denali Commission, Work Plans, https://www.denali.gov/work-plans/.
51 Denali Commission, Denali Commission Strategic Plan: FY2018-2022, October 4, 2017, https://www.denali.gov/
wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Denali_Commission_FY2018_-_2022_Strategic_Plan_-_Final_Executed_document_-
_10-4-17.pdf.
52 P.L. 105-277.
53 Denali Commission, Other Programs, https://www.denali.gov/programs/other-programs/ (accessed April 23, 2021).
54 Denali Commission, Denali Commission Strategic Plan: FY2018-2022, October 4, 2017, https://www.denali.gov/
wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Denali_Commission_FY2018_-_2022_Strategic_Plan_-_Final_Executed_document_-
_10-4-17.pdf.
55 Denali Commission, Denali Commission Investment Summary, May 2017, https://www.denali.gov/programs/.
Congressional Research Service

16

Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

and permafrost degradation—is a program that is relatively new and stil being funded.56 By
contrast, most “traditional” economic development programs are no longer being funded,
including in housing, workforce development, and general economic development activities.57
Legislative History
106th Congress
 In 1999, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2000 (P.L. 106-113) authorized the
commission to enter into contracts and cooperative agreements, award grants,
and make payments “necessary to carry out the purposes of the commission.”
The act also established the federal co-chair’s compensation schedule, prohibited
using more than 5% of appropriated funds for administrative expenses, and
established “demonstration health projects” as authorized activities and
authorized the Department of Health and Human Services to make grants to the
commission to that effect.
108th Congress
 The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2004 (P.L. 108-199) created an Economic
Development Committee within the commission chaired by the Alaska
Federation of Natives president, and included the Alaska Commissioner of
Community and Economic Affairs, a representative of the Alaska Bankers
Association, the chairman of the Alaska Permanent Fund, a representative from
the Alaska Chamber of Commerce, and representatives from each region.
109th Congress
 In 2005, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A
Legacy for Users, or SAFETEA-LU (P.L. 109-59), established the Denali Access
System Program among the commission’s authorized activities. The program was
part of its surface transportation efforts, which were active from 2005 through
2009.58
112th Congress
 2012’s Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, or MAP-21 (P.L. 112-
141), authorized the commission to accept funds from federal agencies, al owed
it to accept gifts or donations of “service, property, or money” on behalf of the
U.S. government, and included guidance regarding gifts.
114th Congress
 In 2016, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, or the WIIN
Act (P.L. 114-322), reauthorized the Denali Commission through FY2021, and
established a four-year term for the federal co-chair (with al owances for

56 Denali Commission, Village Infrastructure Protection, https://www.denali.gov/programs/village-infrastructure-
protection/.
57 Denali Commission, Denali Commission Investment Summary, May 2017, https://www.denali.gov/programs/.
58 U.S. Department of T ransportation, Federal Highway Administration, Fact Sheet on Highway Provisions: Denali
Access System Program
, https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/safetealu/factsheets/denali.htm.
Congressional Research Service

17

link to page 23 link to page 40 link to page 24 Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

reappointment), but provided that other members were appointed for life. The act
also al owed for the Secretary of Commerce to appoint an interim federal co-
chair, and included clarifying language on the non-federal status of commission
staff and ethical issues regarding conflicts of interest and disclosure.
Funding History
Under its authorizing statute, the Denali Commission received funding authorizations for $20
mil ion for FY1999,59 and “such sums as necessary” (SSAN) for FY2000 through FY2003.
Legislation passed in 2003 extended the commission’s SSAN funding authorization through
2008.60 Its authorization lapsed after 2008; reauthorizing legislation was introduced in 2007,61 but
was not enacted. The commission continued to receive annual appropriations for FY2009 and
several years thereafter.62 In 2016, legislation was enacted reauthorizing the Denali Commission
through FY2021 with a $15 mil ion annual funding authorization (Table 4).63
Table 4. Denali Commission:
Authorized and Appropriated Funding, FY2010-FY2021
$ in mil ions

FY10 FY11 FY12 FY13 FY14 FY15 FY16 FY17 FY18 FY19 FY20 FY21
Appropriated
11.97
10.7
10.68
10.68
10.00
10.00
11.00
15.00
30.00
15.00
15.00
15.00
Funding
Authorized







15.00
15.00
15.00
15.00
15.00
Funding
Sources: Appropriated funding amounts compiled by CRS using data from the fol owing: P.L. 111-85; P.L. 112-
10; P.L. 112-74; P.L. 113-6; P.L. 113-76; P.L. 113-235; P.L. 114-113; P.L. 115-31; P.L. 115-141; P.L. 115-244; P.L.
116-94; and P.L. 116-260.
Note: For an expanded historical and comparative view of appropriations, see Table C-1.
Northern Border Regional Commission
The Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) was created by the Food, Conservation, and
Energy Act of 2008, otherwise known as the 2008 farm bil .64 The act also created the Southeast
Crescent Regional Commission (SCRC) and the Southwest Border Regional Commission
(SBRC). Al three commissions share common authorizing language modeled after the ARC.
The NBRC is the only one of the three new commissions that has been both reauthorized and
received progressively increasing annual appropriations since it was established in 2008. The
NBRC was founded to al eviate economic distress in the northern border areas of Maine, New
Hampshire, New York, and, as of 2018, the entire state of Vermont (Figure 4).

59 P.L. 105-277.
60 P.L. 108-7, §504.
61 S. 1368, 110th Cong. (2007).
62 P.L. 111-8.
63 P.L. 114-322.
64 P.L. 110-234.
Congressional Research Service

18

link to page 48
Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

Figure 4. Map of the Northern Border Regional Commission

Source: Compiled by CRS using data from the NBRC and Esri Data and Maps 2018.
Notes: Vermont is the only state with al counties within the NBRC’s jurisdiction.
The stated mission of the NBRC is “to catalyze regional, collaborative, and transformative
community economic development approaches that al eviate economic distress and position the
region for economic growth.”65 Eligible counties within the NBRC’s jurisdiction may receive
funding “for community and economic development” projects pursuant to regional, state, and
local planning and priorities (Table D-4).
Overview of Structure and Activities
The NBRC is led by a federal co-chair, appointed by the President with the advice and consent of
the Senate, and four state governors, of which one is appointed state co-chair. There is no term
limit for the federal co-chair. The state co-chair is limited to two consecutive terms, but may not
serve a term of less than one year. Each of the four governors may appoint an alternate; each state
also designates an NBRC program manager to handle the day-to-day operations of coordinating,
reviewing, and recommending economic development projects to the full membership.66
While program funding depends on congressional appropriations, administrative costs are shared
equal y between the federal government and the four states of the NBRC. Through commission
votes, applications are ranked by priority, and are approved in that order as grant funds al ow.
Program Areas
Al projects are required to address at least one of the NBRC’s four authorized program areas and
its five-year strategic plan. The NBRC’s four program areas are: (1) economic and infrastructure
development (EID); (2) comprehensive planning for states; (3) local development districts; and
(4) the regional forest economy partnership.

65 Northern Border Regional Commission, About the NBRC, http://www.nbrc.gov/content/about.
66 Northern Border Regional Commission, About the NBRC, http://www.nbrc.gov/content/about.
Congressional Research Service

19

Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

Economic and Infrastructure Development (EID)
The NBRC’s state EID investment program is the chief mechanism for investing in economic
development programs in the participating states. The EID program prioritizes projects focusing
on infrastructure, telecommunications, energy costs, business development, entrepreneurship,
workforce development, leadership, and regional strategic planning.67 The EID program provides
approximately $3.5 mil ion to each state for such activities. Eligible applicants include public
bodies, 501(c) organizations, Native American tribes, and the four state governments. EID
projects may require matching funds of up to 50% depending on the level of distress.
Comprehensive Planning
The NBRC may also assist states in developing comprehensive economic and infrastructure
development plans for their NBRC counties. These initiatives are undertaken in collaboration
with LDDs, localities, institutions of higher education, and other relevant stakeholders.68
Local Development Districts (LDD)
The NBRC uses 16 multicounty LDDs to advise on local priorities, identify opportunities,
conduct outreach, and administer grants, from which the LDDs receive fees.69 LDDs receive fees
according to a graduated schedule tied to total project funds. The rate is 5% for the first $100,000
awarded and 1% in excess of $100,000. Notably, this formula does not apply to Vermont-only
projects. Vermont is the only state where grantees are not required to contract with an LDD for
the administration of grants, though this requirement may be waived.70
Regional Forest Economy Partnership (RFEP)
The RFEP is an NBRC program to address economic distress caused by the decline of the
regional forest products industry.71 The program provides funding to rural communities for
“economic diversity, independence, and innovation.” The NBRC received $3 mil ion in FY2018
and $4 mil ion FY2019 to address the decline in the forest-based economies in the NBRC
region.72 In FY2020, $4 mil ion was made available for the program.73

67 Northern Border Regional Commission, State Economic & Infrastructure Development Investment Program ,
http://www.nbrc.gov/content/economic-infrastructure-development-investments.
68 Northern Border Regional Commission, Comprehensive Planning Investments for States, http://www.nbrc.gov/
content/planning-for-states.
69 Northern Border Regional Commission, Local Development Districts, http://www.nbrc.gov/content/local-
development -districts.
70 Northern Border Regional Commission, Administration: General Grant Administration, http://www.nbrc.gov/
content/administration.
71 Northern Border Regional Commission, Regional Forest Economy Partnership, http://www.nbrc.gov/content/
Regional-Forest -Economy-Partnership.
72 Northern Border Regional Commission, Regional Forest Economy Partnership: Notice of Funding Opportunity,
http://www.nbrc.gov/uploads/RegionalForestEconomyParternship(5).pdf.
73 Northern Border Regional Commission, Northern Border Regional Commission Announces 2020 Regional Forest
Econom y Partnership Grant Round
, July 1, 2020, https://www.nbrc.gov/articles/94.
Congressional Research Service

20

link to page 48 Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

Strategic Plan
The NBRC’s activities are guided by a five-year strategic plan,74 which is developed through
“extensive engagement with NBRC stakeholders” alongside “local, state, and regional economic
development strategies already in place.” The 2017-2021 strategic plan lists three goals:
1. modernizing infrastructure;
2. creating and sustaining jobs; and
3. anticipating and capitalizing on shifting economic and demographic trends.75
The strategic plan also lists five-year performance goals, which are:
 5,000 jobs created or retained;
 10,000 households and businesses with access to improved infrastructure;
 1,000 businesses representing 5,000 employees benefit from NBRC investments;
 7,500 workers provided with skil s training;
 250 communities and 1,000 leaders engaged in regional leadership, learning
and/or innovation networks supported by the NBRC; and
 3:1 NBRC investment leverage.76
The strategic plan also takes stock of various socioeconomic trends in the northern border region,
including (1) population shifts; (2) distressed communities; and (3) changing workforce needs.
Economic and Demographic Distress
The NBRC is unique in that it is statutorily obligated to assess distress according to economic as
wel as demographic factors (Table D-4). These designations are made and refined annual y. The
NBRC defines levels of “distress” for counties that “have high rates of poverty, unemployment,
or outmigration” and “are the most severely and persistently economic distressed and
underdeveloped.”77 The NBRC is required to al ocate 50% of its total appropriations to projects in
distressed counties.78
The NBRC’s county designations are as follows, in descending levels of distress:
Distressed counties (80% maximum funding al owance);
Transitional counties (50%); and
Attainment (0%).

74 Northern Border Regional Commission, 2017-2021 Strategic Plan, Concord, NH, 2017, http://www.nbrc.gov/
content/strategic-plan.
75 Northern Border Regional Commission, Northern Border Regional Commission: 2017-2021 Strategic Plan,
http://www.nbrc.gov/uploads/004%20RESOURCES/Five%20Yr%20Strat%20Plan/
NBRC%20Strategic%20Plan%2C%20Full%20Study.pdf.
76 Northern Border Regional Commission, 2017-2021 Strategic Plan, Concord, NH, 2017, p. 6.
77 P.L. 110-234.
78 Northern Border Regional Commission, NBRC Annual Economic & Demographic Research for Fiscal Year 2021:
T o Determine Categories of Distress within the NBRC Service Area, Concord, NH, March 2021,
https://www.nbrc.gov/userfiles/files/Resource%20Guides/
NBRC%20Annual%20Economic%20%26%20Demo graphic%20Research%20for%20Fiscal%20Year%202021_FINA
L.pdf.
Congressional Research Service

21

Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

Transitional counties are defined as counties that do not exhibit the same levels of economic and
demographic distress as a distressed county, but suffer from “high rates of poverty,
unemployment, or outmigration.” Attainment counties are not al owed to be funded by the NBRC
except for those projects that are located within an “isolated area of distress,” or have been
granted a waiver.79
Distress is calculated in tiers of primary and secondary distress categories and constituent factors:
 Primary Distress Categories
1. Percent of population below the poverty level
2. Unemployment rate
3. Percent change in population
 Secondary Distress Categories
1. Percent of population below the poverty level
2. Median household income
3. Percent of secondary and/or seasonal homes
Each county is assessed by the primary and secondary distress categories and factors and
compared to the figures for the United States as a whole. Designations of county distress are
made by tal ying those factors against the following criteria:
 Distressed counties are those with at least three factors from both primary and
secondary distress categories and at least one from each category;
 Transitional counties are those with at least one factor from either category; and
 Attainment counties are those which show no measures of distress.
Legislative History
110th Congress
 The NBRC was first proposed in the Northern Border Economic Development
Commission Act of 2007 (H.R. 1548), introduced on March 15, 2007. H.R. 1548
proposed the creation of a federal y chartered, multi-state economic development
organization—modeled after the ARC—covering designated northern border
counties in Maine, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont. The bil would
have authorized the appropriation of $40 mil ion per year for FY2008 through
FY2012 (H.R. 1548). The bil received regional co-sponsorship from Members of
Congress representing areas in the northern border region.80
 The NBRC was reintroduced in the Regional Economic and Infrastructure
Development Act of 2007 (H.R. 3246), which would have authorized the NBRC,

79 Northern Border Regional Commission, NBRC Annual Economic & Demographic Research for Fiscal Year 2021:
T o Determine Categories of Distress within the NBRC Service Area, Concord, NH, March 2021,
https://www.nbrc.gov/userfiles/files/Resource%20Guides/
NBRC%20Annual%20Economic%20%26%2 0Demographic%20Research%20for%20Fiscal%20Year%202021_FINA
L.pdf.
80 T he bill was introduced by Rep. Hodes, Paul [D-NH-2] and co-sponsored by: Rep. Arcuri, Michael A. [D-NY-24];
Rep. Allen, T homas H. [D-ME-1]; Rep. McHugh, John M. [R-NY-23]; Rep. Michaud, Michael H. [D-ME-2]; Rep.
Shea-Porter, Carol [D-NH-1]; and Rep. Welch, Peter [D-VT -At Large].
Congressional Research Service

22

link to page 28 link to page 28 Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

the SCRC, and the SBRC, and reauthorized the DRA and the NGPRA (discussed
in the next section) in a combined bil .81 H.R. 3246 won a broader range of
support, which included 18 co-sponsors in addition to the original bil sponsor,
and passed the House by a vote of 264-154 on October 4, 2007.
 Upon House passage, H.R. 3246 was referred to the Senate Committee on
Environment and Public Works. The Senate incorporated authorizations for the
establishment of the NBRC, SCRC, and the SBRC in the 2008 farm bill.82 The
2008 farm bil authorized annual appropriations of $30 mil ion for FY2008
through FY2012 for al three new commissions.
115th Congress
 The only major changes to the NBRC since its creation were made in the
Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-334), or the 2018 farm bil ,
which authorized the state capacity building grant program.
 In addition, the 2018 farm bil expanded the NBRC to include the following
counties: Belknap and Cheshire counties in New Hampshire; Genesee, Greene,
Livingston, Montgomery, Niagara, Oneida, Orleans, Rensselaer, Saratoga,
Schenectady, Sullivan, Washington, Warren, Wayne, and Yates counties in New
York; and Addison, Bennington, Chittenden, Orange, Rutland, Washington,
Windham, and Windsor counties in Vermont, making it the only state entirely
within the NBRC.
Funding History
Since its creation, the NBRC has received consistent authorizations of appropriations (Table 5).
The 2008 farm bil authorized the appropriation of $30 mil ion for the NBRC for each of FY2008
through FY2013 (P.L. 110-234); the same in the 2014 farm bil for each of FY2014 through
FY2018 (P.L. 113-79); and $33 mil ion for each of FY2019 through FY2023 (P.L. 115-334).
Due to its statutory linkages to the SCRC and SBRC, al three commissions also share common
authorizing legislation and identical funding authorizations. To date, the NBRC is the only
commission of the three to receive substantial annual appropriations. Congress has funded the
NBRC since FY2010 (Table 5). The NBRC’s appropriated funding level has increased from $5
mil ion in FY2014 to $7.5 mil ion in FY2016, $10 mil ion in FY2017, $15 mil ion in FY2018,
$20 mil ion in FY2019, $25 mil ion in FY2020, and $30 mil ion in FY2021.
Table 5. NBRC Authorized and Appropriated Funding, FY2010-FY2021
$ in mil ions

FY10
FY11
FY12
FY13
FY14
FY15
FY16
FY17
FY18
FY19
FY20
FY21
Appropriated
Funding
1.5
1.5
1.5
1.5
5.0
5.0
7.5
10.0
15.0
20.0
25.0
30.0
Authorized
30.0
30.0
30.0
30.0
30.0
30.0
30.0
30.0
30.0
33.0
33.0
33.0
Funding

81 T he Regional Economic and Infrastructure Development Act of 2007, H.R. 3246.
82 Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, P.L. 110-234.
Congressional Research Service

23

link to page 40
Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

Sources: Appropriated funding amounts compiled by CRS using data from the fol owing: P.L. 111-85; P.L. 112-
10; P.L. 112-74; P.L. 113-6; P.L. 113-76; P.L. 113-235; P.L. 114-113; P.L. 115-31; P.L. 115-141; P.L. 115-244; P.L.
116-94; and P.L. 116-260.
Note: For an expanded historical and comparative view of appropriations, see Table C-1.
Northern Great Plains Regional Authority
The Northern Great Plains Regional Authority was created by the 2002 farm bill.83 The NGPRA
was created to address economic distress in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri (other than counties
included in the Delta Regional Authority), North Dakota, Nebraska, and South Dakota.
Figure 5. Map of the Northern Great Plains Regional Authority

Source: Compiled by CRS using the NGPRA jurisdiction defined in P.L. 107-171 and Esri Data and Maps 2018.
Notes: Missouri’s jurisdiction was defined as those counties not already included in the DRA.
The NGPRA appears to have been briefly active shortly after it was created, when it received its
only annual appropriation from Congress. The NGPRA’s funding authorization lapsed at the end
of FY2018; it was not reauthorized.
Structure and Activities
Authority Structure
The NGPRA featured broad similarities to the basic structure shared among most of the federal
regional authorities and commissions, being a federal-state partnership led by a federal co-chair
(appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate) and governors of the
participating states, of which one was designated as the state co-chair.
Unique to the NGPRA were certain structural novelties reflective of regional socio-political
features. The NGPRA also included a Native American tribal co-chair, who was the chairperson

83 P.L. 107-171.
Congressional Research Service

24

Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

of an Indian tribe in the region (or their designated representative), and appointed by the
President, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The tribal co-chair served as the “liaison
between the governments of Indian tribes in the region and the [NGPRA].” No term limit is
established in statute; the only term-related proscription is that the state co-chair “shal be elected
by the state members for a term of not less than 1 year.”
Another novel feature among the federal regional commissions and authorities was also the
NGPRA’s statutory reliance on a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation—Northern Great Plains, Inc.—
in furtherance of its mission. While Northern Great Plains, Inc. was statutorily organized to
complement the NGPRA’s activities, it effectively served as the sole manifestation of the
NGPRA concept and rationale while it was active, given that the NGPRA was only once
appropriated funds and never appeared to exist as an active organization. The Northern Great
Plains, Inc. was active for several years, and reportedly received external funding,84 but is
currently defunct.
Activities and Administration
Under its authorizing statute,85 the federal government would initial y fund al administrative
costs in FY2002, which would decrease to 75% in FY2003, and 50% in FY2004. Also, the
NGPRA would have designated levels of county economic distress; 75% of funds were reserved
for the most distressed counties in each state, and 50% reserved for transportation,
telecommunications, and basic infrastructure improvements. Accordingly, non-distressed
communities were eligible to receive no more than 25% of appropriated funds.
The NGPRA was also structured to include a network of designated, multi-county LDDs at the
sub-state levels. As with its sister organizations, the LDDs would have served as nodes for project
implementation and reporting, and as advisors to their respective states and the NGPRA as a
whole.
Legislative History
103rd Congress
 The Northern Great Plains Rural Development Act (P.L. 103-318), which became
law in 1994, established the Northern Great Plains Rural Development
Commission to study economic conditions and provide economic development
planning for the Northern Great Plains region. The Commission was comprised
of the governors (or designated representative) from the Northern Great Plains
states of Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, and South Dakota (prior to
Missouri’s inclusion), along with one member from each of those states
appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture.
104th Congress
 The Agricultural, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and
Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1995 (P.L. 103-330) provided $1,000,000
to carry out the Northern Great Plains Rural Development Act. The Commission

84 W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Grants: Northern Great Plains, Inc., https://www.wkkf.org/grants/grant/2007/09/the-
meadowlark-project -a-leadership-laboratory-on-the-future-of-the-northern-great-plains-3004879.
85 P.L. 107-171.
Congressional Research Service

25

Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

produced a 10-year plan to address economic development and distress in the
five states. After a legislative extension (P.L. 104-327), the report was submitted
in 1997.86 The Northern Great Plains Initiative for Rural Development
(NGPIRD), a nonprofit 501(c)(3), was established to implement the
Commission’s advisories.
107th Congress
 The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, or 2002 farm bil (P.L.
107-171), authorized the NGPRA, which superseded the Commission. The
statute also created Northern Great Plains, Inc., a 501(c)(3), as a resource for
regional issues and international trade, which supplanted the NGPIRD with a
broader remit that included research, education, training, and issues of
international trade.
110th Congress
 The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, or 2008 farm bil (P.L. 110-
246), extended the NGPRA’s authorization through FY2012. The legislation also
expanded the authority to include areas of Missouri not covered by the DRA, and
provided mechanisms to enable the NGPRA to begin operations even without the
Senate confirmation of a federal co-chair, as wel as in the absence of a
confirmed tribal co-chair.
 The Agricultural Act of 2014, or 2014 farm bil (P.L. 113-79), reauthorized the
NGPRA and the DRA, and extended their authorizations from FY2012 to
FY2018.
Funding History
The NGPRA was authorized to receive $30 mil ion annual y from FY2002 to FY2018. It received
appropriations once for $1.5 mil ion in FY2004.87 Its authorization of appropriations lapsed at the
end of FY2018.
Southeast Crescent Regional Commission
The Southeast Crescent Regional Commission (SCRC) was created by the 2008 farm bil ,88
which also created the NBRC and the Southwest Border Regional Commission. Al three
commissions share common authorizing language modeled after the ARC.
The SCRC is not currently active. It has received regular appropriations of $250,000 annual y
from FY2010 through FY2020, but it has not been able to form due to the absence of an
appointed federal co-chair. However, for FY2021, the SCRC was appropriated a substantial
increase of $1 mil ion.89

86 Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, “Great P lains Commission Completes Work, Looks to Region’s Future,”
Minneapolis, MN, April 1, 1997, https://www.minneapolisfed.org/publications/fedgazette/great-plains-commission-
completes-work-looks-to-regions-future.
87 P.L. 108-199.
88 P.L. 110-234.
89 For more information, see CRS In Focus IF11744, Forming a Funded Federal Regional Commission, by Michael H.
Cecire.
Congressional Research Service

26

link to page 32
Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

The SCRC was created to address economic distress in areas of Virginia, North Carolina, South
Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida (Figure 6) not served by the ARC or the
DRA (Table 13).
Figure 6. Map of the Southeast Crescent Regional Commission

Source: Compiled by CRS using the jurisdiction defined in P.L. 110-234 and Esri Data and Maps 2018.
Notes: The SCRC is statutorily defined as including those counties in the named states that are not already
included in the ARC or the DRA. Florida is the only state with al counties are defined as being within the SCRC.
Overview of Structure and Activities
As authorized, the SCRC would share an organizing structure with the NBRC and the Southwest
Border Regional Commission, as al three share common statutory authorizing language modeled
after the ARC.
As authorized, the SCRC would consist of a federal co-chair, appointed by the President with the
advice and consent of the Senate, along with the participating state governors (or their designated
representatives), of which one would be named by the state representatives as state co-chair.
There is no term limit for the federal co-chair. However, the state co-chair is limited to two
consecutive terms, but may not serve a term of less than one year. However, no federal co-chair
has been appointed since the SCRC was authorized; therefore, the commission cannot form and
begin operations.
Legislative History
The SCRC concept was first introduced by university researchers working on rural development
issues in 1990 at Tuskegee University’s Annual Professional Agricultural Worker’s Conference
for 1862 and 1890 Land-Grant Universities.
In 1994, the Southern Rural Development Commission Act was introduced in the House
Agricultural Committee, which would provide the statutory basis for a “Southern Black Belt
Congressional Research Service

27

link to page 28 link to page 40 Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

Commission.”90 While the concept was not reintroduced in Congress until the 2000s, various
nongovernmental initiatives sustained discussion and interest in the concept in the intervening
period. Supportive legislation was reintroduced in 2002, which touched off other accompanying
legislative efforts until the SCRC was authorized in 2008.91
Funding History
Congress authorized $30 mil ion funding levels for each fiscal year from FY2008 to FY2018, and
$33 mil ion in FY2019, and appropriated $250,000 in each fiscal year from FY2010 to FY2020.
In FY2021, the SCRC was appropriated $1 mil ion for the first time (Table 5). Despite receiving
regular appropriations since it was authorized in 2008, a review of government budgetary and
fiscal sources yields no record of the SCRC receiving, obligating, or spending funds appropriated
by Congress. In successive presidential administration budget requests (FY2013, FY2015-
FY2017), no funding was requested.92
In the U.S. Treasury 2018 Combined Statement of Receipts, Outlays, and Balances, Part III,93 the
SCRC does not appear, further indicating that the SCRC remains unfunded. Notably, the
Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, which has periodical y shared a
common section with the SCRC in presidential budgets, is listed in the 2018 Combined
Statement, as it is elsewhere.
Despite recent appropriations, no federal co-chair has been appointed, and the SCRC cannot
form. According to statute, a federal co-chair is required for the formation of a commission
quorum and making decisions.94
Table 6. SCRC Authorized and Appropriated Funding, FY2010-FY2021
$ in mil ions

FY10
FY11
FY12 FY13 FY14 FY15 FY16 FY17 FY18 FY19 FY20 FY21
Appropriated
0.25
0.25
0.25
0.25
0.25
0.25
0.25
0.25
0.25
0.25
0.25
1.00
Funding
Authorized
30.00
30.00
30.00
30.00
30.00
30.00
30.00
30.00
30.00
33.00
33.00
33.00
Funding
Sources: Appropriated funding amounts compiled by CRS using data from the fol owing: P.L. 111-85; P.L. 112-
10; P.L. 112-74; P.L. 113-6; P.L. 113-76; P.L. 113-235; P.L. 114-113; P.L. 115-31; P.L. 115-141; P.L. 115-244; P.L.
116-94; and P.L. 116-260.
Note: For an expanded historical and comparative view of appropriations, see Table C-1.

90 H.R. 3901.
91 40 U.S.C. §15731.
92 In addition, in a review of the relevant SF 133 Reports on Budget Execution and Budgetary Resources, the SCRC is
not listed by the Office of Management and Budget in its list of reported agencies, and subsequently offers no relevant
funding reports on the SCRC. T he SF 133 Report on Budget Execution and Budgetary Resources fulfills the
requirement in 31 U.S.C. §§1511-1514 that the President review federal expenditures at least four times a year.
93 U.S. T reasury 2018 Combined Statement of Receipts, Outlays, and Balances, P art III, https://fiscal.treasury.gov/
reports-statements/combined-statement/current.html.
94 40 U.S.C. §15302.
Congressional Research Service

28

link to page 34
Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

Southwest Border Regional Commission
The Southwest Border Regional Commission (SBRC) was created with the enactment of the
Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, or the 2008 farm bill (P.L. 110-234), which also
created the NBRC and the SCRC. Al three commissions share common statutory authorizing
language modeled after the ARC.
The SBRC was created to address economic distress in the southern border regions of Arizona,
California, New Mexico, and Texas (Figure 7; Table 15). The SBRC has not received an annual
appropriation since it was created and is not currently active.
Figure 7. Map of the Southwest Border Regional Commission

Source: Compiled by CRS using the jurisdictional data defined in P.L. 110-234 and Esri Data and Maps 2018.
Overview of Structure and Activities
As authorized, the SBRC would share an organizing structure with the NBRC and the SCRC, as
al three commissions share common statutory authorizing language modeled after the ARC.
By statute, the SBRC consists of a federal co-chair, appointed by the President with the advice
and consent of the Senate, along with the participating state governors (or their designated
representatives), of which one would be named by the state representatives as state co-chair. As
enacted in statute, there is no term limit for the federal co-chair. However, the state co-chair is
limited to two consecutive terms, but may not serve a term of less than one year. However, as no
federal co-chair has been appointed since the SCRC was authorized, it is not operational.
Legislative History
The concept of an economic development agency focusing on the southwest border region has
existed at least since 1976, though the SBRC was established through more recent efforts.
Congressional Research Service

29

Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

 Executive Order 13122 in 1999 created the Interagency Task Force on the
Economic Development of the Southwest Border,95 which examined issues of
socioeconomic distress and economic development in the southwest border
regions and advised on federal efforts to address them.
108th Congress
 In February 2003, a “Southwest Regional Border Authority” was proposed in S.
548. A companion bil , H.R. 1071, was introduced in March 2003. The SBRC
was reintroduced in the Regional Economic and Infrastructure Development Act
of 2003 (H.R. 3196), which would have authorized the SBRC, the DRA, the
NGPRA, and the SCRC.
109th Congress
 In 2006, the proposed Southwest Regional Border Authority Act would have
created the “Southwest Regional Border Authority” (H.R. 5742 ), similar to S.
458 in 2003.
110th Congress
 In 2007, SBRC was reintroduced in the Regional Economic and Infrastructure
Development Act of 2007 (H.R. 3246), which would have authorized the SBRC,
the SCRC, and the NBRC, and reauthorized the DRA and the NGPRA in a
combined bil .
 Upon House passage, the Senate incorporated authorizations for the
establishment of the NBRC, SCRC, and SBRC in the 2008 farm bill. The 2008
farm bill authorized annual appropriations of $30 mil ion for FY2008 through
FY2012 for al three of the new organizations.
Funding History
Congress authorized annual funding of $30 mil ion for the SBRC from FY2008 to FY2018 and
$33 mil ion for each of FY2019-FY2023.96 Until FY2020, the SBRC had never received annual
appropriations and is not active. For FY2021, however, the SBRC was appropriated $250,000 for
the first time. Upon the appointment of a federal co-chair, the SBRC could convene and begin the
process of activation.97
Table 7. SBRC Authorized and Appropriated Funding, FY2010-FY2021
$ in mil ions
FY1
FY1
FY1
FY1
FY1
FY1
FY1
FY1
FY1
FY1
FY2
FY2

0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
0
1
Appropriated
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
0.25
Funding

95 Executive Order 13122, “Interagency T ask Force on the Economic Development of the Southern Border,” 64
Federal Register
29201-29202, May 25, 1999.
96 40 U.S.C. §15751.
97 For more information, see CRS In Focus IF11744, Forming a Funded Federal Regional Commission, by Michael H.
Cecire.
Congressional Research Service

30

link to page 40 Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

FY1
FY1
FY1
FY1
FY1
FY1
FY1
FY1
FY1
FY1
FY2
FY2

0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
0
1
Authorized
Funding
30.00
30.00
30.00
30.00
30.00
30.00
30.00
30.00
30.00
33.00
33.00
33.00
Source: Appropriated funding amounts compiled by CRS using data from P.L. 116-260.
Note: For an expanded historical and comparative view of appropriations, see Table C-1.
Concluding Notes
Given their geographic reach, broad activities, and integrated intergovernmental structures, the
federal regional commissions and authorities are a significant element of federal economic
development efforts. At the same time, as organizations that are largely governed by the
respective state-based commissioners, the federal regional commissions and authorities are not
typical federal agencies but federal y chartered entities that integrate federal funding and direction
with state and local economic development priorities.
This structure provides Congress with a flexible platform for economic development efforts. The
intergovernmental structure al ows for strategic-level economic development initiatives to be
launched at the federal level and implemented across multi-state jurisdictions with extensive state
and local input, and more adaptable to regional needs.
The federal regional commissions and authorities reflect an emphasis by the federal government
on place-based economic development strategies sensitive to regional and local contexts.
However, the geographic specificity and varying functionality of the statutorily authorized federal
regional commissions and authorities, both active and inactive, potential y raise questions about
the efficacy and equity of federal economic development policies.
More in-depth analysis of these and other such issues related to the federal regional authorities
and commissions, and their role as instruments for federal economic development efforts, is
reserved for possible future companion products to this report.
Congressional Research Service

31


Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

Appendix A. Basic Information at a Glance
Table A-1. Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities
$ in mil ions
Year
Number
Number of
FY2021

Authorized
of States
Counties
Appropriations
ARC
1965
13
420, which includes the entire state of
$180.00
West Virginia
DRA
2000
8
252
$30.00
Denali
1998
1
Entire state of Alaska
$15.00
Commission
NBRC
2008
4
60
$30.00
NGPRC
2002
6
86 counties in Missouri and the entire
N/A
states of Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota,
Nebraska, and South Dakota
SCRC
2008
7
384 counties in Alabama, Georgia,
$1.00
Mississippi, North Carolina, South
Carolina, Virginia, and the entire state of
Florida
SBRC
2008
4
93
$0.25
Sources: Data compiled by CRS from relevant legislation and official sources of various federal regional
commissions and authorities. Authorizing statutes include, in order of tabulation: P.L. 89 -4; P.L. 106-554; P.L.
105-277; P.L. 110-234; P.L. 107-171; P.L. 110-234; and P.L. 110-234.
Notes: The commissions and authorities in bold are considered to be active and functioning.
Figure A-1. Structure and Activities of the Commissions and Authorities

Sources: Compiled by CRS with information from the federal regional commissions and authorities.
Notes: For commission and authorities that are not considered to be functioning, structural characteristics are
tabulated according to their statutory design.
Congressional Research Service

32

Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

Contact Information
(for active commissions and authorities)
Contact
Address/Phone/Website
Appalachian Regional Commission
1666 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 700
Washington, DC 20009-1068
Phone:
(202) 884-7700
Website:
http://www.arc.gov
Delta Regional Authority
236 Sharkey Avenue
Suite 400
Clarksdale, MS 38614
Phone:
(662) 624-8600
Website: http://www.dra.gov
Denali Commission
510 L Street
Suite 410
Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone:
(907) 271-1414
Website: http://www.denali.gov
Northern Border Regional Commission
James Cleveland Federal Building, Suite 1201
53 Pleasant Street
Concord, NH 03301
Phone:
(603) 369-3001
Website: http://www.NBRC.gov

Congressional Research Service

33