County Governance Project
Your guide to county government structure, authority, services and finances.
NACo's County Governance Project provides a comprehensive guide to county government structure, authority, services and finances. Dig into individualized state profiles and the national database to learn about the intricacies of county governance by state, share information with policymakers and educate the public on the importance of counties.
Counties Matter. Counties serve nearly every American every day. Urban, suburban and rural — counties work with states, the federal government and other public and private partners to keep our communities healthy, safe and vibrant.
Counties are one of America’s original forms of government, dating back to 1634 when the first county governments (shires) were established in Virginia. The organization and structure of today’s 3,069 county governments are chartered under state constitutions or laws and are tailored to fit the needs and characteristics of the state and local areas.
Governing on the Ground is an inside look at the complex challenges faced by officials as they strive to strengthen their communities. The book features 30 short chapters contributed by county leaders.
A comprehensive guide to county government structure, authority, services and finances.
NACo, together with iCivics, has created an online game and curriculum to educate students grade levels 6-12 about the important role and functions of county government.
Learn about county governance in your state
Explore state profiles featuring data on county structure, county authority, health and human services, infrastructure, public amenities, zoning and development, public safety, schools, finances and more!
Compare information across all 48 states with county governments.
Dig into specific datasets, maps and charts within each of the four main categories – County Basics, County Authority & Structure, County Services and County Finances.
In any data table, use the search bar at the top to isolate similar states based on specific data points or click on an indicator name to sort the data. All maps are available on NACo's County Explorer.
For additional information on the data, refer to the state profiles by clicking on a state's name in any table, or download the full dataset to view various data notes included only in that file. Please contact us at Research@NACo.org with any questions.
- Planning & Zoning (table)
- County Authority Over Planning & Zoning (map)
- County Authority Over Planning, Zoning & Permitting (Breakdown by Share of Counties) (graph)
- Community & Economic Development (table)
- Housing & Community Development Expenditures (map)
- County Role in Community & Economic Development (Breakdown by Share of Counties) (graph)
- Top Revenue Sources (table)
- Top County Revenues by State (graph)
- Top Expenditure Categories (table)
- Total County Expenditures (map)
- County Finance Authority (map)
- Property & Sales Tax Authority (table)
- Other Taxing Authority (table)
- Debt Financing & State Revenue Shares (table)
- County Finance Authority (Breakdown by Share of Counties) (graph)
America's County Governments: A Short Primer on Our History, Definitions, Structures and Authorities
The Marvelous Adventures of Countyland
With county government policymakers and practitioners now facing the realities of generative artificial intelligence (AI), this book was developed with three main objectives:
- Showcase the remarkable capabilities and intricate nature of contemporary AI technologies
- Stimulate collaborative policy discussions among intergovernmental partners regarding the near limitless applications within the public sector, taking into account the possible inherent biases in AI systems, and
- Inspire the young people of America to explore the exciting and meaningful roles and responsibilities of county government officials.