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CSBG Dear Colleague Letter Organizational Standards and Performance Management Development Update FY 2013

Published: October 31, 2012
Audience:
Community Services Block Grants (CSBG)
Category:
Guidance, Policies, Procedures, Dear Colleague Notices
Tags:
authority, eligibility, funding, grant review, grantees, guidelines, participant, reviewer

Dear Colleagues:

Two weeks ago, the Office of Community Services (OCS) awarded new grants and contracts that will help support the development of new organizational standards and performance management protocols for Community Services Block Grants (CSBG).   This will be a challenging national undertaking requiring unprecedented levels of communication and coordination among Federal, State, and association partners over several months.  Our goal is to revitalize CSBG performance management, assure high standards of accountability for Federal funds in all communities that receive CSBG resources, and to help prepare communities to most effectively address the challenges of poverty in a dramatically transforming economy. 

This message describes new developments for CSBG in the upcoming Fiscal Year (FY 2013), the organizational partners selected for a national partnership focused on organizational standards and performance management, some major expected milestones for the development of standards in the upcoming year, and answers to some anticipated questions.  We encourage all State CSBG lead agencies and CSBG Training and Technical Assistance (T/TA) grantees to review this message.  We are also asking State CSBG lead agencies to share this update within your State CSBG networks so that all recipients of CSBG funding have access to the same information.

FY 2013 CSBG Budget Update

On Friday, September 29, President Obama signed a continuing appropriations resolution (H.J.Res. 117) that will provide funding for the Federal government through Wednesday, March 27, 2013 (or approximately 6 months).  Although the final appropriation for FY 2013 is not yet determined, the passage of the continuing resolution means that CSBG grants will be awarded through the end of March at the prior year levels.  A chart outlining CSBG 1st quarter allocation amounts for States, Tribes and Territories is attached and will be posted to the OCS website.   Quarterly allocations are being released upon acceptance of FY 2013 CSBG Plans.  When each plan is accepted as complete, CSBG contacts for States, Territories and Tribes will receive an electronic copy of the award document.  In addition, an official award letter will be distributed by the Office of Grants Management to the responsible CSBG official.

FY 2013 Performance Standards and Performance Management Effort

The FY 2013 President’s budget request for CSBG included plans to assure that CSBG resources are allocated to high-performing, innovative agencies meeting a set of core Federal standards.  Over the upcoming year, OCS plans to continue to work with Congress and a wide variety of organizational stakeholders to establish a set of core Federal standards that States will be required to use to assess whether an eligible entity is meeting a high standard of service delivery. 

OCS will identify and finalize new standards and performance management protocols through a deliberative process that includes consultations and written recommendations received from major national associations, States, and technical assistance providers.  The ongoing deliberative process will also include an array of experts from outside the CSBG Network, who will provide a fresh perspective on the development of specific standards and performance management. 

As the deliberative process will be an open and transparent process, the CSBG Network should be aware of our planned timeline.  A major key target date is as follows:

  • By July 31, 2013, the Administration of Children and Families (ACF) grantees and contractors will have completed deliberative processes with network participants and outside experts and will deliver information to ACF on core standards.  Standards will inform future administration and legislative efforts to use a set of core standards and competition to achieve high-quality service delivery and to institute competition when agencies do not meet the standards.

Although new core Federal standards will include compliance with basic requirements of the CSBG Act, we will also go beyond basic compliance to focus on high-quality performance across the CSBG Network.  Core performance standards will focus on organizational management issues, financial management, the quality of services, and the strategic process for Results Oriented Management and Accountability (ROMA).

Organizational Partners

Key partners in the OCS process for developing and implementing new organizational standards and building the ROMA Cycle will include State CSBG lead agencies as well as two new Centers of Excellence (COEs), 11 Regional Performance and Innovative Consortia (RPIC) grants and other supporting contracts to convene and refine Federal guidance.

  • A new Organizational Standards COE will assist States and local CSBG-eligible entities to set and meet high performance standards that can be used across the Network in areas such as organizational leadership, human resource management, financial operations, consumer input and involvement, community engagement, and board governance.  This COE, CSBG T/TA Organizational Standards, will coordinate the development and dissemination of a core set of standards with input from the State, regional and national partners.  The COE will develop a product with input from all key stakeholders and will create tools for organizational assessment that can be used by States and local CSBG-eligible entities to set and meet high-quality organizational performance standards and accountability.  The grantee for  this effort, selected through a national competition, is Community Action Partnership (CAP), which has extensive experience with organizational standards.
  • A new Results Oriented Management and Accountability (ROMA) Next Generation COE will develop updated T/TA materials building on the ROMA cycle of performance management.  Efforts of this COE will include tools for high-quality needs assessments; community CSBG plans that use evidence-informed service approaches targeted to the highest priority needs; guidance on setting challenging outcome goals; and documentation and analysis of progress and results.   The grantee for this effort, also selected through a competitive application process, is the National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP), which has extensive experience with prior ROMA efforts.
  • The 11 new Regional Performance and Innovative Consortia (RPIC) are composed of representative State Associations of Community Action Agencies (CAAs) for the States within each region.  RPICs are required to commit resources to support organizational standards and ROMA Next Generation practices.  These regional grants will play a key role in the new efforts related to organizational standards as well as new implementation standards for ROMA.  Critical functions include: 1) obtaining and providing regional input on performance measurement and performance standards; 2) participating in national work groups; 3) facilitating and providing training on performance standards and measurement techniques; and 4) assisting State CAA Associations and CSBG-eligible entities in analyzing community needs assessment data, setting challenging service delivery goals, identifying evidence-informed service plans, and documenting outcomes based on the ROMA cycle of performance management. The Grantees selected for this effort are as follows:
  • Region 1 (CT, MA, NH, ME, RI, VT)Connecticut Association for Community Action;

OCS Program Specialist: Maria Rogers

  • Region 2 (NJ, NY, PR, USVI) – New York State Community Action Association;

OCS Program Specialist: Chryston Jones

  • Region 3 (DC, MD, PA, VA, WV)Virginia Community Action Partnership;

OCS Program Specialist: James Gray

  • Region 4 (Two RPIC grants awarded)

    • Area A (AL, GA, MS, FL)Georgia Community Action Association;
    • Area B (NC, SC, TN, KY) – Community Action Kentucky;

OCS Program Specialist: Maria Rogers

  • Region 5 (IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI)Indiana Community Action Association;

OCS Program Specialist: Chryston Jones

  • Region 6 (AR, LA, NM, TX, OK)Oklahoma Association of Community Action Agencies;

OCS Program Specialist: Chryston Jones

  • Region 7 (IA, KS, MO, NE)Kansas Association of Community Action Programs;

OCS Program Specialist: James Gray

  • Region 8 (CO, MO, ND, SD, WY, UT)North Dakota Community Action Partnership;

OCS Program Specialist: Vanness Hughes

  • Region 9 (AZ, CA, NV, HI, GU)California/Nevada Community Action Partnership; and

OCS Program Specialist: James Gray

  • Region 10 (AK, ID, OR, WA)Community Action Partnership of Oregon.

OCS Program Specialist: Vanness Hughes

  • In addition to the new Centers of Excellence and the RPIC grantees, OCS has issued a task order contract to the Urban Institute, to help obtain expert analysis from outside the current CSBG network.  UI will provide recommendations for improvements in performance management and documentation of program results at local, State and Federal levels. UI will work in partnership with OCS to coordinate development of new performance management tools and protocols. 

Key Questions

  • What is the expected relationship between State CSBG lead agencies and RPIC? 

Under the block grant structure, State CSBG lead agencies must play a strong and active leadership role in the administration, monitoring, assessment and performance management within each State network.  Therefore, it is essential that the RPIC grantees develop and maintain strong partnerships with State CSBG lead agencies.  RPIC grantees and their participating State associations must maintain regular communication with State CSBG administrators, must be familiar with applicable State statutory, regulatory, and procedural requirements, and must work in partnership with State CSBG Administrators to promote the application of new performance management tools and protocols.

  • How will OCS coordinate the activities of all parties involved in the development of new performance management tools and protocols? 

Through a contract with the Urban Institute, OCS will host three working group meetings to solicit input and coordinate plans for implementation of new standards and performance management protocols.  The exact dates are to be determined, but these meetings are expected to be held in December, February and April.  In advance of these meetings, OCS will solicit work plans, review timelines, and facilitate discussions between the new COEs, the Urban Institute, and other parties to review areas of necessary coordination.  The deliberative process that ACF is supporting, including consultations and written recommendations received from major national associations, States, and technical assistance providers, has already started to reform efforts and allows for buy-in from key stakeholders, which will be essential for future success.  The ongoing deliberative process will also include experts from outside the CSBG Network, who will provide a fresh perspective on the development of specific standards and performance management. 

  • Does OCS anticipate legislative changes or new regulations to support the implementation of new standards, performance management tools and protocols?

ACF expects to work with Congress to secure legislative authority as necessary to support a new system of standards that will trigger competition when local agencies do not meet the standards.   However, OCS believes the products and results of the new working groups, grants and contracts outlined above will provide a supportive base for improved management of  CSBG regardless of whether legislative changes occur.  The process that will be implemented over the next year is consistent with existing authorities and will provide important benefits to the CSBG network.  

Conclusion

The CSBG network is positioned to make significant progress in efforts to implement new core standards and performance management tools and protocols, but some of the most challenging work lies ahead over the next several months.  We look forward to continuing partnership in these efforts.

Sincerely,

Jeannie L. Chaffin                                                                Seth Hassett

Director                                                                                Director, Division of State Assistance

Office of Community Services                                            Office of Community Services

Administration for Children and Families                           Administration for Children and Families               

Department of Health and Human Services                        Department of Health and Human Services