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LIHEAP Action Transmittal 2014-1 Grantee Survey for Fiscal Year 2013

Published: December 4, 2013
Audience:
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Category:
Guidance, Policies, Procedures, Action Transmittal

LOW-INCOME HOME ENERGY
 ASSISTANCE

ActionTransmittal

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
Office of Community Services
Division of Energy Assistance
370 L'Enfant Promenade, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20447
   http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/liheap

Transmittal No. LIHEAP-AT-2014-01                                     Date:  December 4, 2013

TO:    LOW INCOME HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (LIHEAP) STATE GRANTEES AND OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES

GUIDANCE
INTENDED FOR:      __X__ STATES

                                 _____ TRIBES/TRIBAL ORGANIZATIONS

                                 _____ TERRITORIES                                 

SUBJECT:     LIHEAP Grantee Survey for Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2013

RELATED
REFERENCES:
   Section 2610(b) of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Act, Title XXVI of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981, Public Law 97-35, as amended; ACF’s annual LIHEAP Grantee Survey, as approved by OMB (Control No. 0970-0076; Expiration Date – April 30, 2014); LIHEAP Action Transmittal (AT) AT-2013-4).

PURPOSE:   To advise State LIHEAP Grantees that the deadline for submitting the LIHEAP Grantee Survey for FFY 2013 (for the period of October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013) is January 31, 2014.

To advise State LIHEAP Grantees about submitting the LIHEAP Grantee Survey for FFY 13 using the ACF Online Data Collection (OLDC) system.

To advise State LIHEAP Grantees about the technical assistance in completing and submitting the LIHEAP Grantee Survey for FFY 2013 that is available through OCS and through two webinars to be held on January 8, 2014 at 3 PM (EST) and the recording of the webinar will be posted to our web site.

BACKGROUND:   This past August, we e-mailed LIHEAP-AT-2013-4 and posted it on our website at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/resource/liheap-household-report-for-federal-fiscal-year-2013.  Reference was made in the AT that the LIHEAP Grantee Survey for FFY 2013 would need to be submitted in December 2013. 

State LIHEAP Grantees are required to submit their LIHEAP Grantee Surveys to OCS as part of our preparing the LIHEAP Report to Congress for FY 2013.  This report is in response to Section 2610(b) of the LIHEAP statute which requires the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to submit, no later than June 30 of each federal fiscal year, a report to Congress on LIHEAP for the prior federal fiscal year.  The completeness, accuracy, consistency, and timeliness of responses to data collections are required to:

  1. provide reliable and complete fiscal and household data to Congress in the Department’s LIHEAP Report to Congress for FFY 2013;
  2. respond to questions from the Congress, Department, OMB, White House, and other interested parties in a timely manner; and report LIHEAP performance results as part of the Administration’s annual Congressional Justification

Like the LIHEAP Household Report for FFY 2013, state LIHEAP grantees are required to submit their LIHEAP Grantee Survey for FFY 2013 through the On-Line Data Collection System (OLDC) which is available at https://extranet.acf.hhs.gov/ssi/

Like previous grantee surveys, this survey collects LIHEAP data on sources and uses of funds, average benefits, and maximum income cutoffs for 4-person households for each type of LIHEAP assistance provided by each state for FFY 2013. As with the LIHEAP Household Report for FFY 2013, we have contracted with APPRISE to assist state grantees in completing their LIHEAP Grantee Survey. APPRISE also will contact states, if necessary, to correct data errors and/or missing data identified through OLDC.  The goal of the technical assistance available from our office and our contractor, APPRISE, is to assist grantees with both identifying and resolving issues in order to facilitate grantees’ successful and timely submission of the Grantee Survey through OLDC. 

OLDC has built-in validations in the LIHEAP Grantee Survey for FFY 2013 to help grantees ensure that data submitted to our office is accurate.  Once all data is entered and the Survey is validated in OLDC, state LIHEAP grantees will be notified of any error messages, if any.  The OLDC system will not allow grantees to submit their LIHEAP Grantee Survey if it contains errors.  There are two types of errors: Warnings and Errors:

  1. A Warning notifies the grantee of a possible inconsistency or mistake in the data.  Grantees are encouraged to double check the fields described in the Warning to make sure all information is correct.  Grantees will be able to Certify and submit the report without changing any data that led to a Warning.
  2. An Error notifies the grantee of a mistake that must be corrected prior to the report being submitted to our office.  OLDC will not allow a report to be certified and Submitted until the Error has been addressed.

CONTENT:   The LIHEAP Grantee Survey for FFY 2013 was originally scheduled for submission to OCS by December 16, 2013.  However, due to the need to complete development and testing of the OLDC version of the LIHEAP Grantee Survey for FFY 2013 and to provide training and technical assistance in advance of completing the Survey, OCS is extending the deadline to submit the Survey to January 31, 2014.

We will notify those states that fail to meet the deadline of January 31, 2014.  This date may be extended for states that request an extension before the deadline and if our office agrees to a reasonable extension. There may be states that fail to submit their Grantee Survey or respond in a timely manner to our requests for clarification of their data.  Those states will be noted as having incomplete data in the LIHEAP Report to Congress for FFY 2013 and in responses to fiscal data requests from our federal stakeholders.  In addition, we will consider such failure as a violation of Section 2605(b)(14) of the LIHEAP statute regarding state cooperation with ACF data collection and reporting.

Although the LIHEAP Grantee Survey for FFY 2013 is now to be submitted through OLDC, the substance of the report has not changed from FFY 2012. The format has changed somewhat in designing the Survey to be completed through OLDC instead of an Excel spreadsheet.  The Survey instructions will be updated to refer to FFY 2013 and will be incorporated into the form in OLDC and in links to corresponding Survey line items.  We will e-mail a copy of the updated instructions and a screenshot of the LIHEAP Grantee Survey for FFY 2013 by December 31, 2013.    Use of the OLDC will assist states and our staff in reducing and eliminating reporting delays and data errors.

Webinar

On January 8, 2014, at 3 PM EST, our office will host a webinar for state grantees on how to complete and submit the FFY 2013 Grantee Survey.  A reminder notice will be sent in advance of the webinar with instructions on how to join the webinar.  The recording of the webinar will be posted to our web site by January 13.

Staff in the Office of Community Services is available to assist states with using OLDC to submit the Grantee Survey. For questions regarding accessing OLDC, contact your LIHEAP regional liaison.

Our contractor, APPRISE, is also available to help any state grantee who needs assistance with data collection, reporting, or submission of their 2013 LIHEAP Grantee Survey.If you have questions, or would like assistance, please contact Jim Devlin (Jim-Devlin@appriseinc.org) or Sherry Vogel (sherryv@ncat.org).

Reporting Tips

Please review the following reporting tips as they will enhance the quality and timeliness of submitting finalizing state-reported LIHEAP data to our office:

  1. Meet the reporting deadline. If necessary, contact our office before the deadline if the data will be delayed. We will consult with your office on arriving at a reasonable alternate date. Timely follow up in meeting this alternate date will help in compliance with the LIHEAP statute’s Assurance (14) that deals with cooperation in the federal collection and reporting of LIHEAP data to Congress. We will work with states that seek help in a timely manner in completing and submitting their data reports.
  2. Read and review the reporting instructions. Contact our office to clarify any instructions that are not clear. Understanding the reporting instructions will minimize our need to contact you for clarification or correction of your state’s reported data, saving both our agencies time and effort. This also will enhance our timeliness in compiling, editing, and reporting the data.
  3. Cross check for consistency. Check that the types of LIHEAP assistance reported on the Household Report and Grantee Survey match each other. Also, check the types of LIHEAP assistance provided in FFY 2013 need to be consistent with what is indicated in the State Plan for FFY 2013, as amended.
  4. Use the note sections. Clarify data in the note sections to explain why there may be missing or incomplete data and what is being done to rectify the problem(s).

Important Points

  1. “Uses of Funds” represent a State’s obligation of LIHEAP funds, not expenditure of LIHEAP funds. In some cases, obligated block grant funds are not actually expended until after the end of the FFY.
  2. Report the annual or annualized maximum income cutoff for a 4-person household in effect on October 1, 2012 for each type of LIHEAP assistance provided in FFY 2013.
  3. Exclude the U.S. Department of Energy’s weatherization assistance funds in reporting on obligated LIHEAP weatherization assistance funds, if any, in Section IV, A. 4 of the Survey.
  4. Report on all funds used to provide “other LIHEAP assistance.” For the most part, this would include “other crisis assistance” to provide furnace or air conditioner repairs or replacements. Also, this would include Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households that were provided a relatively small non-crisis LIHEAP payment to increase the amount of SNAP benefits that they received, commonly referred to as “heat or eat” or “cool or eat” programs.

The staff member who completed and submitted the LIHEAP Household Report for your state may be different from the staff member who will complete submit the LHEAP Grantee Survey.  Consequently, the state LIHEAP Director may need to set up an additional OLDC account if someone else will be completing and submitting the Survey.

Once the LIHEAP Grantee Survey for FFY 2013 has been submitted, we will notify a state of any reporting deficiencies not identified or resolved through OLDC and request a plan for remedial action.  At the same time, we will continue to work with states that seek help in completing its report.

INQUIRIES TO:    For questions regarding accurate completion of the LIHEAP Grantee Survey, contact:

Leon Litow, Lead Energy Assistance Program Specialist
Division of Energy Assistance
Office of Community Services
Administration for Children and Families, HHS
370 L'Enfant Promenade, S.W.
Washington, D.C.  20447
202-401-5304 (Voice)
202-401-5661 (Fax)
llitow@acf.hhs.gov

For questions regarding accessing OLDC, contact your LIHEAP regional liaison.

SUBMISSION TO:    The deadline for all grantees to submit their LIHEAP Grantee Survey for FFY 13 is January 31, 2014.  Please submit the Survey Report in OLDC at: https://extranet.acf.hhs.gov/ssi/

 

/s________________________
Jeannie L. Chaffin
Director
Office of Community Services