What is GPRA and why should I care?

If you have hung out at grant developer conferences or read an RFP lately you may have heard the term GPRA bandied about. If you have any doubts about what GPRA is and why it matters to you, please read on.

What is GPRA?

GPRA is the acronym for the Government Performance Results Act passed in 1993. It requires all federal agencies to report on their accomplishments to Congress each year.

It requires that agencies create

1. a five-year strategic plan,
2. annual performance plans, and
3. report on their progress towards long and short term goals each year.

Increased accountability and open government are long sought after goals. So, what’s different about GPRA? Well, it ties results to the budget process. For the first time in history, showing real results was potentially tied to loss or
increased agency budgets.

So, why does GPRA matter to the average grant seeker

As thrilling as this sounds to the average citizen it is actually pretty interesting to grant folks.

First, it is one of the primary reasons for the increased focus on measuring outcome rather than outputs (or process)- i.e. number of people in long-term employment versus number of people who attend and employment training program.

GPRA requires that agencies set long-term goals and achieve measurable results – not just processes. That’s why we’ve seen an increased use of logic models at agencies like HUD.

Second, by requiring long term strategic planning GPRA gives us some insight into the future trends at federal agencies. Take a look at your primary funding agency’s GPRA strategic and annual plans so that you know in what direction the agency is headed. Clearly, their focus, and money, will affect your funding and experience over the next decade.

Third, RFPs routinely include the GPRA measures by which a program is measured. Know that these are your fundamental measures because if your proposed program fails to meet these targets, your program officer is one step closer to failing to meet his or her program’s targets. And that is just no fun for anyone.

Our goal as grant seekers is to create meaningful change. And, guess what? That is also the goal of each federal program officer. It’s important that we recognize our mutual collaboration in moving our society forward.

In the next article, I’ll talk about how progress is measured using PART – the Program Assessment Rating Tool.

So, next time you’re hanging out at the bar at an AAGP conference and someone mentions GPRA, you can reach for your beer content in the knowledge that you know what it means.

Heck, you could even go so far as to read the law so that the conversation can become even more thrilling! The link is below in case you are tempted.


Data Digging

The National Center for Children in Poverty based at Columbia University provides a treasure trove of qualitative and quantitative data about children’s economic status.


There are 4 data tools:

1. State Demographics Wizard that enables you to create data tables at the national, regional or state level for Income, Parental Education, Employment, Presence, and Nativity, Home Ownership, Marital Status, Child’s Age, and

2 .State Policy Wizard that enables you to create tables to compare policies at the national, regional or state level. For example, want to know which states index minimum wage to inflation – this is the place to go.

3. The Family Resource Simulator illustrates the impact of “work supports” – such as earned income tax credits and child care assistance – on the budget of a hypothetical family.

4.Income Converter allows you to enter an income and then it automatically calculates its relationship to the Federal Poverty Level or State Median Income Level.

The State Profiles enable you to create comprehensive profiles of demographics and policies affecting children.

Happy Data Digging!

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