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LIHEAP Dear Colleague Notice on Grantee Training and Technical Assistance

Published: July 8, 2016
Audience:
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Category:
Guidance, Policies, Procedures, Dear Colleague Notices

 

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Dear Colleague Letter

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
Office of Community Services
Division of Energy Assistance
330 C Street, S.W., 5th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20201
www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/programs/liheap

Re: Grantee Training and Technical Assistance

Date: July 8, 2016

Dear Colleagues:

The Office of Community Services (OCS), Division of Energy Assistance (DEA), has engaged our partners and stakeholders in conversations about grantee training and technical assistance (T/TA) needs at several forums such as the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association (NEADA) Annual Meetings, LIHEAP Program Integrity Work Group (PIWG) meetings, LIHEAP Performance Measures Implementation Work Group (PMIWG) meetings, the FY 2015 Annual Grantee Training Conference, DEA Regional Conference Calls, and during OCS onsite and desk monitoring reviews.

Comments received from these various forums confirm a broad range of T/TA needs within the LIHEAP community. While there is a resource gap in providing T/TA to over 200 directly-funded LIHEAP grantees, OCS believes that many of the needs identified by grantees can be addressed by leveraging federal staff and strategically using the LIHEAP T/TA resources appropriated by Congress.

OCS is addressing grantee T/TA needs using a multi-pronged strategic approach to maximize the return on investment for the approximately $3 million in training and technical assistance funds received each year as part of the LIHEAP appropriation. Among ongoing efforts, OCS is continuing to enhance the functionality of the LIHEAP Clearinghouse website, which serves as the central repository for LIHEAP information, and the LIHEAP Performance Management website designed to assist grantees in meeting requirements for collecting and reporting performance information. For the last few years, OCS also supplemented grantee compliance monitoring and on-site technical assistance services through two separate support contracts funded out of the LIHEAP T/TA allocation. These contracts helped OCS to increase capacity and to provide grantees with access to expert interpretation of LIHEAP statutes and assurances covering many programmatic and fiscal areas. In addition, OCS has used a combination of other strategies to address grantees training and technical assistance needs including:

  • Webinars hosted by DEA staff and contractors;
  • Annual and Regional Grantee Training Meetings;
  • Peer-to-Peer assistance;
  • OCS presentations at national conferences and meetings; and
  • One-on-one consultation and quarterly conference calls hosted by DEA staff.

Table 1 provides a compiled summary of the input received on grantee T/TA topics along with the relative rating of the need, and the T/TA delivery methods available from OCS.

Table 1: Analysis of Grantee Training and Technical Assistance Needs, Past and Future Delivery Methods.

Training and Technical Assistance Topics

Significance of Need

Past and Future Delivery Method

Topics specific to new LIHEAP Coordinators.

Very Important

Annual Meeting; Virtual Meeting; Websites

Eligibility verification of home energy burden. Vendor and subgrantee training in account verification processes using examples of automated interfaces between LIHEAP agencies and home energy vendors.

Very Important

Webinar/Grantee Meetings; TA visit

Oversight including subgrantee monitoring process using examples of monitoring tools, contracts, policies and procedures, contracts and agreements, systems, confidentiality, security procedures, and prioritization tools.

Very Important

Webinar/Grantee Meetings; TA visit; Websites

Fiscal management through vendor monitoring using examples of vendor agreements, monitoring procedures, payment tracking, data mining, policy and procedures manuals.

Very Important

Webinar/Grantee Meetings; TA visit; Websites

Promising LIHEAP practices.

Very Important

Information Memo; Websites

Information about open source systems.

Very Important

Information Memo; Websites; one-on-one T/TA

Eligibility verification of applicant identity using examples of secure client databases, software, data exchange agreements covering third party verification of income and through categorically eligible programs, such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).

Important

Webinar/Grantee Meetings; TA visit

Eligibility verification of client address using examples of normalization software and other methods for cross-checking addresses and other checks to prevent duplication of benefits.

Important

Webinar/Grantee Meetings; TA visit

Tool development for program integrity using examples of step-by-step guidelines for intake personnel operating in tribal communities.

Important

Grantee meetings; T/TA visits; virtual meetings; Websites

Tracking and reporting of LIHEAP Vendor Refunds.

Important

Grantee meetings; T/TA visits

Monitoring of LIHEAP-Weatherization program/office by LIHEAP grantees.

Important

Grantee meetings; T/TA visits

Federal LIHEAP Assurances.

Important

Webinars; Websites; Grantee meetings

Uniform Federal Guidelines.

Important

Webinars; Websites; Grantee meetings

Information about existing grantee LIHEAP Information Technology (IT) systems/software.

Important

Information Memo; Websites

Information for tribes or tribal organizations on sharing data among tribally administered public assistance programs.

Important

Grantee meetings; Information Memo; Websites; one-on-one T/TA

Note: Significance of Need is based on 3-point scale: very important, important, and not important. This table does not reflect topics rated “not important”.

If there are any additional training and technical assistance topics that you would like OCS to consider for Fiscal Year 2017 and beyond, please contact your assigned Division of Energy Assistance liaison by August 31, 2016 and share your ideas. To view their contact information on our website, please click here. If you cannot reach your assigned liaison, please feel free to contact: Akm Rahman, Operations Branch Chief, at akm.rahman@acf.hhs.gov or (202) 401-5306.

Sincerely,

/s/
Jeannie L. Chaffin
Director
Office of Community Services

/s/
Lauren Christopher
Director
Division of Energy Assistance

Last Reviewed: August 6, 2016