Targeting Higher Skills and Healthcare Jobs: How HPOG Grantees Set and Use Performance Goals

February 7, 2019
Self-Sufficiency, Welfare & Employment
Evaluation and System Design for Career Pathways Programs: 2nd Generation of HPOG, 2014-2019 | Learn more about this project
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  • Published 2019


In 2015, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the second round of Health Profession Opportunity Grants (“HPOG 2.0”) to 32 grantees in 21 states, including five tribal organizations. The purpose of the HPOG Program is to provide education and training to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients and other low-income individuals for occupations in the healthcare field that pay well and are expected to either experience labor shortages or be in high demand.

Grantees set overall five-year and annual performance goals on several key measures as part of the HPOG 2.0 application process, including:

  1. Number of individuals enrolled in the overall HPOG program
  2. Number of TANF recipients enrolled
  3. Number of individual participants that begin basic skills education
  4. Number of individual participants that complete basic skills education
  5. Number of participants that begin any healthcare occupational training
  6. Number of participants that complete any healthcare occupational training
  7. Number of individual participants that obtain employment in a healthcare occupation

Grantees cannot subsequently change five-year performance goals but they may adjust annual goals for grant years 2 through 5 as they make progress towards their overall goal. Grantees formally report on their progress toward meeting their performance projections in semi-annual and annual Performance Progress Reports (PPRs) submitted to the Office of Family Assistance (OFA) in ACF. OFA monitors grantees’ performance, negotiates annual goals with grantees, and provides assistance to grantees in taking needed corrective actions to meet projected performance goals.

Primary Research Questions

  1. 1 How did grantees develop five-year and annual performance projections?
  2. 2 How do grantees and ACF interpret and use data regarding progress on each performance measure to develop and/or revise projections for each successive year?


By exploring how grantees develop their performance projections, this special analysis aims to:

  • Provide transparency around the process of developing and refining performance projections to help ACF better understand how applicants/grantees develop projections (e.g., what they are based on, assumptions used, etc.), in order to assess their accuracy, provide more informed guidance regarding revisions to annual projections, and better monitor performance.
  • Share insights that could help future HPOG applicants craft performance projections.

Key Findings and Highlights

The special analysis of how HPOG 2.0 grantees set and use performance goals found that:

  • Grantees considered a variety of internal and external factors and data when establishing their five-year performance projections, the most common of which were labor market demand, training provider capacity, and experience in HPOG 1.0.
  • Most grantees determined one or more of their Year 1 projections by dividing the five-year totals for these projections by five.
  • Most grantees monitored progress towards meeting their goals on a monthly basis, frequently in their monthly calls with their OFA project officers.
  • OFA uses a variety of mechanisms to assist grantees in meeting their projections, including group and individual TA, requiring grantees to report on progress more frequently, and when necessary, corrective action plans.
  • To address shortfalls across performance projections, grantees made adjustments to their programs to increase TANF recipient enrollment, increase enrollment and completion of basic skills courses, and increase the focus on short-term training. Additionally, grantees revised annual projections for future years to make up for shortfalls experienced in earlier years.


Data was collected through interviews with one respondent from each of nine current HPOG 2.0 grantees and with OFA staff, conducted in January 2018. Informal topic guide questions helped structure the conversations with grantees and OFA. Additionally, the paper used data from grantees’ Year 1 and Year 2 PPRs.


Key suggestions for future HPOG grantees include:

  • When developing initial performance goals expect delays in enrollment during program startup.
  • Use a variety of available data on local labor market conditions and demand for healthcare occupational education to assess likely participation rates and employment outcomes.
  • Develop a clear understanding of the needs of the potential HPOG participant population and the partners and stakeholders with whom they will work.
  • Be frank and open in communicating challenges in meeting goals to OFA.

Key suggestions for OFA in future HPOG iterations include:

  • Consider requiring grant applicants to develop MOUs with local TANF agencies to ensure mutual agreement over the number of TANF recipient referrals likely to apply to HPOG.
  • Inform grant applicants about likely delays in enrollment during program startup.
  • Include information in grant announcements that may be helpful to grantees in developing performance goals, such as data on mean times for HPOG participants to complete courses and the degree to which participants engage in multiple trainings to move along defined career pathways.


Sarna, Maureen, with Alan Werner. (2018). Targeting Higher Skills and Healthcare Jobs: How HPOG Grantees Set and Use Performance Goals, OPRE Report 2018-122. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Last Reviewed: February 6, 2019