While dams have multiple benefits, they also represent a risk to public safety and economic infrastructure. This risk stems from two sources: the likelihood of a dam failure and the damage it would cause. While dam failures are infrequent, age, construction deficiencies, inadequate maintenance, and seismic or weather events contribute to the likelihood. To reduce risk, regular inspections are necessary to identify deficiencies and then corrective action must be taken. To identify deficiencies that could cause dam failures, the federal government established inspection requirements for the nation's federal dams. Once deficiencies are identified, most agencies finance repairs through their operation and maintenance accounts. Funding mechanisms vary for larger rehabilitation activities. At the Bureau of Reclamation, for example, most larger repairs are conducted with annual appropriations to its dam safety program. At some other agencies, dam rehabilitation must compete with other construction projects for funding. At non-federal dams, safety is generally a state responsibility, though some federal assistance has been provided. Funding through the National Dam Safety Program, which is authorized through FY2006, helps states improve their dam safety programs and train inspectors. In addition, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration require regular inspections at the non-federal dams within their jurisdiction. Even so, there are concerns that most state dam safety programs have inadequate staff and funds to effectively inspect or monitor all of the dams for which they are responsible. Further, there are concerns that states, local governments, and other non-federal dam owners may not have the financial resources to maintain and rehabilitate their dams. Following the failure of the levee at Lake Pontchartrain in 2005, it is likely that there will be increased scrutiny of flood control infrastructure and the structural stability of high hazard-potential dams. Further, there has been periodic pressure for Congress to pass legislation authorizing federal support for rehabilitation work at non-federal dams. Demand for such assistance is likely to increase, but there is currently no federal policy that describes the conditions under which federal funding is appropriate, nor has Congress established criteria for prioritizing funding among non-federal projects. To help inform discussions on the federal role in dam safety, this report provides background information on the nation's dam safety activities and funding mechanisms.