Financial Foundations Framework

Does Consolidating Local Governments Work?

GFOA Research Report Cover

There are over 90,000 units of local government in the United States providing services such as education, public safety, public health, utilities, transportation, recreational opportunities, vital record keeping, natural resource conservation, and more.

Given the vast sums of money and the number of governments involved, it is reasonable to ask: Is there too much fragmentation in local government? Could public funds be better used if there was less fragmentation?

In this first of our four-part series, we will examine the potential of local government consolidation. Given the similarity in services offered by different local governments in the same region, consolidating those governments into larger units could result in a better use of resources. We will explore what the research says about the effects of consolidation. We will close by summarizing the potential for consolidation to economize spending, improve efficiency and/or increase value.