2016 Federal Index


Use of Evidence in 5 Largest Non-Competitive Grant Programs

Did the agency use evidence of effectiveness when allocating funds from its 5 largest non- competitive grant programs in FY16? (Note: Meeting this criteria requires both Agency and Congressional action.)

Score
7
Administration for Children and Families (HHS)
  • In FY17, ACF’s 5 largest non-competitive grant programs are: 1) Temporary Assistance for Needy Families ($17.3 billion); 2) Child Care and Development Fund (Block Grant and Entitlement to States combined) ($5.8 billion); 3) Foster Care ($5.3 billion); 4) Child Support Enforcement Payments to States ($4.2 billion); and 5) Low Income Home Energy Assistance ($3.4 billion).
  • ACF’s Foster Care program ($5.3 billion in FY16) has approved over 30 jurisdictions to develop and implement child welfare waiver demonstration projects to improve outcomes for children in foster care or at risk for entry or re-entry into foster care. Through these demonstrations, ACF waives provisions of law to allow flexible use of funding normally limited to foster care for other child welfare services. Many participating jurisdictions are implementing evidence-based or evidence-informed interventions and all demonstration projects are required to have a rigorous evaluation conducted by a third-party evaluator. Although ACF does not currently have statutory authority to grant new waivers, current projects are expected to continue through September 30, 2019. General information on this program, including a fact sheet and summary of relevant legislation/policy, is available at the Children’s Bureau portal.
Score
7
Corporation for National and Community Service
  • CNCS operates one formula grant program, the AmeriCorps State formula grants program ($154 million in FY17). CNCS also operates four direct grant programs in FY17: 1) National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) ($30 million in FY17), 2) VISTA ($92 million in FY17), 3) Senior Corps Foster Grandparents ($108 million in FY17), and 4) Senior Corps Senior Companion Program ($46 million in FY17).
  • In FY17, the Senior Corps Foster Grandparents and Senior Companion programs embedded evidence into their grant renewal processes by offering supplemental funding (“augmentation grants”) to grantees interested in deploying volunteers to serve in evidence-based programs (see pp. 2-4) and providing evaluation data on implementation fidelity, including outcomes. A total of $500,000.00 (.01% of total program funds) is allocated for the RSVP grantees to augment their baseline award to implement an evidence based program. For the Foster Grandparents program $400,000.00 (.004% of total program funds) has been allocated in FY17. A total of $300,000.00 is allocated for the Senior Companion program in FY17, or .007% of total program funds.
  • VISTA finalized its theory of change and a learning agenda/evaluation plan to guide them in FY17 that makes explicit the link between the work that the volunteers perform, the design of a sponsor’s project to address community needs, and the evidence to support this activity. This effort will impact several management aspects including project approval, volunteer assignment descriptions, member activity, data collection, and the role of evidence in the design and implementation of projects.
Score
N/A
Millennium Challenge Corporation
  • MCC does not administer non-competitive grant programs.
Score
8
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • The following represents SAMHSA’s largest non-competitive grant programs for which funds were appropriated in FY17: 1) Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant Program ($1.8 billion); 2) Mental Health Block Grant Program ($562 million); 3) Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) Program ($64.6 million); and 4) Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Program ($36.1 million).
  • In FY17, SAMHSA’s Mental Health Grant Block maintained a 10% set-aside for evidence-based programs (see p. 4) to address early serious mental illness (ESMI) (including psychosis) among individuals. In FY18-19 grant applications, states must describe how they will utilize the 10% set aside to align with coordinated specialty care models such as that which is grounded in the National Institute of Mental Health’s RAISE (Recovery after an Initial Schizophrenic Episode) work, or other approved evidence-based approaches. A key assumption of the block grant applications that grantees must meet is that, “state authorities use evidence of improved performance and outcomes to support their funding and purchasing decisions” (p. 8). In addition, a quality improvement plan is requested from all grantees, which is based on the principles of Continuous Quality Improvement/Total Quality Management (CQI/TQM). Grantees are also required to comply with performance requirements, which include assessing how funds are used via data and performance management systems and other tracking approaches.
Score
N/A
U.S. Agency for International Development
  • USAID does not administer non-competitive grant programs.
  • USAID does contribute funding to multilateral institutions known as Public International Organizations (PIOs), which are listed here, and include the World Bank, UN, and multi-donor funds such as the Global Fund. A Public International Organization (PIO) is an international organization composed principally of countries. In these specific cases, USAID funds are part of overall US Government funding for these partner institutions. These funds become subject to the monitoring and evaluation requirements of the organization that receives them. For example, the Global Fund has a performance-based funding system, which bases funding decisions on a transparent assessment of results against time-bound targets. USAID’s ADS chapter 308 provides more information on how PIOs are defined and includes guidance related to due diligence required prior to awarding grants to PIOs.
Score
8
U.S. Department of Education
  • ED’s 5 largest non-competitive grant programs in FY17 included: 1) Title I Grants to LEAs ($15.4 billion); 2) IDEA Grants to States ($12.0 billion); 3) Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants ($2.2 billion); 4) Impact Aid Payments to Federally Connected Children ($1.3 billion); and 5) 21st Century Community Learning Centers ($1.2 billion).
  • ED worked with Congress in FY16 to ensure that evidence played a major role in ED’s large non-competitive grant programs in the reauthorized education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). As a result, section 1003 of ESEA requires states to set aside at least 7% of their Title I, Part A funds ($14.9 billion in FY16) for a range of activities to help school districts improve low-performing schools. School districts and individual schools are required to create action plans that include “evidence-based” interventions that demonstrate strong, moderate, or promising levels of evidence.
  • Section 4108 of ESEA authorizes school districts to invest “safe and healthy students” funds in Pay for Success initiatives. Section 1424 of ESEA authorizes school districts to invest their Title I, Part D funds (Prevention and Intervention Programs for Children and Youth Who are Neglected, Delinquent, or At-Risk) in Pay For Success initiatives.
  • ED is working to align its diverse technical assistance to best serve state, school districts, and schools as they use evidence to drive improvements in education outcomes.
Score
7
U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development
  • HUD’s budget contains 3 large formula grant programs for public housing authorities (PHAs): 1) the Public Housing Operating Fund ($4.4 billion in FY17), 2) the Public Housing Capital Grants ($1.9 billion in FY17), and 3) Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Administrative Fees ($1.7 billion in FY17). Another 3 formula grant programs serve cities or tribes: 1) Community Development Block Grant Entitlement/Non-Entitlement ($3.0 billion in FY17), 2) HOME Investment Partnerships ($1.0 billion in FY17), and 3) Native American Housing Block Grants ($0.7 billion in FY17).
  • Although the funding formulas are prescribed in statute, evaluation-based evidence is central to each program. HUD used evidence from a 2015 Administrative Fee study of the costs that high-performing PHAs incur in administering a HCV program to propose a new FY17 approach for funding Administrative Fees while strengthening PHA incentives to improve HCV outcomes by providing tenant mobility counseling.
  • HUD’s funding of public housing is being radically shifted through the evidence-based Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), which enables accessing private capital to address the $26 billion backlog of capital needs funding. Based on demonstrated success of RAD, for FY18 HUD proposed removing the cap on the number of public housing developments to be converted to Section 8 contracts. HUD is also conducting a Rent Reform demonstration and a Moving To Work (MTW) demonstration to test efficiencies of changing rent rules.
  • HUD conducted an extensive assessment of Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian housing needs to strengthen the evidence base for the formula programs.
Score
7
U.S. Department of Labor
  • In FY16, the 5 largest non-competitive grant programs at DOL are in the Employment and Training Administration, all of which allocate funding, by statute, and all include performance metrics (e.g., unemployment insurance payment integrity, WIOA common measures) tracked quarterly: 1) the Unemployment Insurance State grants ($2.6 billion in FY 2016); 2) the Employment Security program state grants ($680 million in FY 2016); and 3) three authorized programs under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The 3 WIOA-authorized grants are: 1) Youth Workforce Investment program ($873 million in FY 2016), 2) Adult Employment and Training program ($816 million in FY 2016), and 3) Dislocated Workers Employment and Training program ($1.2 billion in FY 2016).
  • WIOA includes evidence and performance provisions beginning in Program Year 2016 which: (1) increase the amount of WIOA funds states can set aside and distribute directly from 5-10% to 15% and authorize them to invest these funds in Pay for Performance initiatives; (2) authorize states to invest their own workforce development funds, as well as non-federal resources, in Pay for Performance initiatives; (3) authorize local workforce investment boards to invest up to 10% of their WIOA funds in Pay for Performance initiatives; and (4) authorize States and local workforce investment boards to award Pay for Performance contracts to intermediaries, community based organizations, and community colleges.
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