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Article Summary

Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR). 1974. "Alternative Government Structures." Government Functions and Processes: Local and Areawide. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Modern federalism is a cooperative and consequently difficult endeavor. The debate over the assignment of urban functions is one of both means and ends, questioning both the how and the why of government service provision. The sharing of power contributes to the dynamism of the federal system, where the subject is constantly debated.

Theorists have developed various models for government service assignment, which include:

  • Polycentricity/Decentralization
  • Federation (eg, systematically dividing functions between upper and lower tier governments
  • Consolidation

These models all have supporters who claim their various merits based on the criteria of efficiency, equity, public satisfaction with service, and so on. Empirical findings show that no model appears to be completely effective or without deficiencies.