Has your favorite funding program been PARTed?

In the last ezine we talked about GPRA. Now it’s time for acronym #2. PART is the Program Assessment Rating Tool developed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to measure agencies’ progress towards their GPRA goals. Phew!

WHAT IS PART?

Over time, all programs undergo the PART process on a cycle agreed upon by the agency and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The Program Assessment Rating Tool, or PART, consists of 25 questions designed to help assess the management and performance of programs. The questionnaire evaluates a program’s purpose, design, planning, management, results, and accountability to determine its overall effectiveness. It includes an assessment of program outcome, output, and efficiency measures to track their progress towards goals – those same measures that are passed on to us grantees. The questions are broken up into 4 sections which the OMB describes as:

* “The first section of questions asks whether a program’s PURPOSE IS CLEAR and whether it is well designed to achieve its objectives.

* The second section involves STRATEGIC PLANNING, and weighs whether the agency establishes valid annual and long-term goals for its programs.

* The third section rates the MANAGEMENT of an agency’s program, including financial oversight and program improvement efforts.

* The fourth section of questions focuses on RESULTS that programs can report with accuracy and consistency.”

Not all programs use the same PART. For example, there are different questions for competitive grants, block/formula grants, and research and development. You can see some sample questions at  www.whitehouse.gov

HOW ARE PROGRAMS RATED?

Each of the four sections is given a score so that weaknesses in certain areas can be
identified. This quantitative assessment is then translated into one of four qualitative ratings:

Effective
…………… 85-100 Moderately Effective
…………… 70-84 Adequate
…………… 50-69 Ineffective
…………… 0-49

However, the most ominous rating is “Results Not Demonstrated” which is given to programs that don’t have acceptable performance measures or lack baselines and performance data. Needless to say, programs are getting higher PART ratings as time goes on. In 2002, 55% of programs were “Not Performing” ie. have either an ‘ineffective’ or ‘results not demonstrated’ rating – in 2007 that figure had dropped to 22%.

WHAT DOES THE SCORE MEAN TO PROGRAMS?

So, the bottom line question – do ‘Not Performing” programs get cut? Well, not always. The OMB site tells us that sometimes programs that fall in the ‘results not demonstrated’ can see increased funding so that they can produce better results.

I did a very rough analysis of the budgets of the performing and not performing programs and found that the performing programs saw an average 1.9% increase in their 2008 budget and a proposed increase of 2.6% in 2009.

By comparison, the ‘not performing’ programs saw an average 5.25% increase in their 2008 budget and a proposed decrease of 5.5% in 2009. So, one interpretation is that programs are getting an initial boost in funding but need to correct the error of their ways or see funding cuts.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME?

First of all, it would be helpful to know the current PART rating for your funding sources. You can see the rating of all PARTed programs at  www.whitehouse.gov

And, then it will be helpful to see if they are up for reassessment this year. A list of which ones will be PARTed in 2008 is available at: www.whitehouse.gov

Then you need to ask yourself what you, as a grantee, are doing each day to help meet the program’s goals and objectives. Societal change is a team sport. We each play our part in creating lasting change – one grant at time.

Data Digging

Are you looking for statistics about the Native American population? This site was created by Gina Glaczko of the The Heard Museum and it provides links to data on total population, income, age distribution, health insurance status etc.

www.nativevillage.org

Happy Data Digging!

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