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LIHEAP Action Transmittal 2016-02 on FY 2015 HHR

Published: November 30, 2015
Audience:
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Category:
Guidance, Policies, Procedures, Action Transmittal

LOW-INCOME HOME ENERGY
 ASSISTANCE

 

Action Transmittal

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
https://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/programs/liheap

Transmittal No.  LIHEAP-AT-2016-02             Date:  November 30, 2015

TO:    LOW INCOME HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (LIHEAP) GRANTEES

ACTION INTENDED FOR:     __X___STATES
                                               __X___TRIBES/TRIBAL ORGANIZATIONS
                                               __X___TERRITORIES

SUBJECT:   LIHEAP Household Report Short Form and Long Form for Federal Fiscal Year (FY) 2015

RELATED                 
REFERENCES:   Sections 2605(c)(1)(G) and 2610(b) of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Act of 1981 (title XXVI of Public Law 97-35, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981, as amended); 45 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 96; House Report 103-483 and Senate Report 103-251 or S. 2000, the predecessor to Public Law 103-252 (the Human Services Amendments of 1994); OMB Control No. 0970-0060 (Expiration Date─October 31, 2014); Section 3507 of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995; LIHEAP Information Transmittal (IM) 09-03, dated January 26, 2009; LIHEAP Action Transmittal (AT) 11-06, dated July 25, 2011.

PURPOSE:   To inform all LIHEAP grantees that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved the use of the LIHEAP Household Report through October 31, 2018.

To remind all LIHEAP grantees that the required final data for the LIHEAP Household Report for FY 2015 (October 1, 2014 – September 30, 2015) is to be submitted through the Administration of Children and Families’ On-Line Data Collection System (OLDC) by December 31, 2015.

To inform all LIHEAP grantees that a webinar will be held on December 8, 2015 and repeated on December 10, 2015 to highlight changes to the LIHEAP Household Report and to review data issues. 

To inform all LIHEAP grantees which of the following LIHEAP Household Report forms are to be used:

  • The 50 States and the District of Columbia (hereafter referred to as “states”) are to complete the LIHEAP Household Report Long Form for FY 2015.
  • Direct-grant Indian Tribes/Tribal Organizations (hereafter referred to as “tribes) are to complete the LIHEAP Household Report Short Form for FY 2015.
  • The Territories (hereafter referred to as “territories”) are to complete the LIHEAP Household Report Long Form for FY 2015.  In the past, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico was the only territory required to complete the LIHEAP Household Report Long Form.  However, the recent increase in the percent of LIHEAP funds received by the territories necessitates a policy change that all territories complete and submit the LIHEAP Household Report Long Form for FY 2015.

BACKGROUND:  Under the amendments to the LIHEAP statute enacted in 1994 (Public Law 103-252), LIHEAP grant applications must include a report on LIHEAP households for the previous Federal Fiscal Year.  We require all LIHEAP grantees to report LIHEAP household data.

Information collection activities, such as the LIHEAP Household Report, must receive approval from OMB in accordance with Section 3507 of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

In our Dear Colleague Letter, dated July 28, 2015, we advised grantees that the expired LIHEAP Carryover and Reallotment Report and the LIHEAP Household Report were pending new OMB clearance.  We indicated that the reporting deadlines were postponed until we received OMB clearance.  OMB since has cleared the LIHEAP Household Report for use through October 31, 2018.

A few states continue to experience problems in reporting some of the required data, including the household count of LIHEAP weatherized households that are part of the unduplicated count of households receiving any type of LIHEAP assistance.  The problems appear to be due in many circumstances to the coordination between states LIHEAP and weatherization agencies, and the need for more explicit expectations for the weatherization agency regarding required LIHEAP household data.  Further below we discuss the types of technical assistance that will continue to be available to grantees to address these kinds of issues.  Also, grantees must explain in the Notes field of the LIHEAP Household Report what challenges they have with reporting complete and accurate data.

OCS staff are available to assist LIHEAP grantees with using the Online Data Collection (OLDC) system required to submit the LIHEAP Household Report.  For questions regarding accessing OLDC, contact your LIHEAP regional liaison.

Our contractor, APPRISE, continues to be available to assist states that need assistance with data collection, reporting, or submission of their LIHEAP Household Report Long Form for FY 2015.  APPRISE will continue to work with grantees in correcting their data when necessary.

CONTENT:   States have made progress with collecting and reporting accurate and timely data for the LIHEAP Household Report Long Form through the transition to submitting the household data through OLDC.  This has resulted in less follow-up calls/emails to states for clarification.  However, in varying degrees there still are the following issues related to the LIHEAP Household Report:

  • Failure to include types of assistance that are indicated in state’s LIHEAP plan, such as LIHEAP funds used for weatherization that is administered by another agency through the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP);
  • Operation of inadequate data collection systems;
  • Failure to utilize warning messages to fix data errors before submission to ACF; and
  • Failure to include adequate notation in reporting on households assisted with LIHEAP funds—examples include home energy repair or replacement; Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) nominal payments.
  • Submission of the LIHEAP Household Report Long Form to OLDC after the deadline without first consulting with our office;

Such issues contribute to the delay in completing the annual LIHEAP Report to Congress.  The data also are needed to aid our staff in monitoring state and tribal LIHEAP programs and in providing technical assistance to LIHEAP agency staff.

As with the FY 2014 household data, OLDC has built-in validations in the LIHEAP Household Report Long Form for FY 2015 to help states ensure that data submitted to our office is accurate.  All data entered into OLDC will be checked in real time when you click the Validation button.. 

There are two types of validation responses when there is a data issue:  warnings and errors. 

  • A “warning” notifies the grantee of a possible inconsistency or mistake in the data.  States and territories are encouraged to double check the data fields described in the warning to make sure all information is correct.  States and territories will be able to certify and submit the report without changing any data that led to a warning.
  • 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.  Grantees are to contact their DEA liaison to aid in resolution of the error if necessary.

Starting with the FY 2015 household data, OLDC has extended data validations to check the consistency of the types of LIHEAP assistance reported by each state by cross checking the LIHEAP Household Report Long Form for FY 2015 with the state’s and territorial LIHEAP Model Plan for FY 2015.  Additional cross checks are also implemented to verify the data in the Household Report Long Form for FY 2015 against that reported in the Household Report Long Form for FY 2014.

Once the LIHEAP Household Report Long Form for FY 2015 has been submitted, we will notify a state or territory 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 their reports.

States and the territories are to submit actual household data for the LIHEAP Household Report Long Form for FY 2015 by December 31, 2015 (this also is the deadline for state, tribal, and territorial grantees to submit additional information to complete their block grant application/plans for FY 2016).  Actual, not estimated, state-level data are required for the LIHEAP Report to Congress for FY 2015.

A webinar will held on December 8, 2015 at 3pm Eastern Time, to highlight changes to the LIHEAP Household Report and to review data issues.The webinar will be repeated on December 10, 2015 at 3pm Eastern Time.

As with the LIHEAP Household Report for FY 2014, the LIHEAP Household Report for FY 2015 is submitted through OLDC.  Submissions via email, fax, or mail will not be accepted.

Beginning with the household data for FY 2015, states and territories are to report in Section I the following new data elements: 

  • an unduplicated count of the number of households that received  bill payment assistance. This field will remain OPTIONAL for FY 2015 reporting and will become mandaotry for FY 2016 reporting;
  • the number of households receiving nominal benefits equal to or less than $50;
  • a separate unduplicated count of the number of households that received winter crisis assistance; and
  • a separate household count of the number of households that received year-round crisis assistance.

Attachment A provides the instructions for the LIHEAP Household Report Long Form for FY 2015.  Attachment B provides the instructions for the LIHEAP Household Report Short Form for FY 2015.

INQUIRIES TO:   For questions regarding accurate completion of the LIHEAP Household Report, 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
www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/liheap/

SUBMISSION TO:  The deadline for all grantees to submit to OLDC their LIHEAP Household Report for FY 2015 is December 31, 2015.  This date may be extended for direct-grant tribal grantees if the state(s) in which the tribe is located agrees to a later date.  The date may also be extended for state or territorial grantees if  OCS agrees to a later date.  However, extensions of the December 31st deadline may not be made unless the grantee requests the extension before the deadline.

OLDC report forms can be accessed here:  https://extranet.acf.hhs.gov/ssi/.  If you have not yet created an account in OLDC, contact your LIHEAP regional liaison for assistance.  Also, for questions regarding accessing OLDC and or completing the OLDC form, contact your LIHEAP regional liaison.

ATTACHMENTS:

A. Instructions for the LIHEAP Household Report Long Form for FY 2015
B. Instructions for the LIHEAP Household Report Short Form for FY 2015

Sincerely,

/s

Jeannie Chaffin
Director
Office of Community Services

Last Reviewed: December 1, 2015