Although this report focuses on FEMA’s homeland security grants, some of it may be of general interest. The new report (138 pp.) is titled Improving the National Preparedness System: Developing More Meaningful Grant Performance Measures. It was prepared by the National Academy for Public Administration, June 2012.
The U.S. Congress asked an expert panel of the NAPA to assist the FEMA Administrator in studying, developing, and implementing quantifiable performance measures to assess the effectiveness of homeland security preparedness grants. The Academy Panel focused the scope of this study on the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) and Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI), as these are the two largest of FEMA’s homeland security grant programs.
The Panel found that measuring the outcomes of these grants poses two challenges:
(1) the preparedness system’s greatest strength—conducting efforts in an integrated fashion that blends resources from multiple sources—is also its greatest weakness from a performance measurement standpoint; and (2) the federal government has not developed measurable standards for preparedness capabilities to guide the performance of the states and urban areas receiving these grants.
The Panel recommended a set of measures that collectively begin to address the effectiveness of the two grant programs.This measures have three parts:
Part 1: Effective and Targeted Grant Investments – These measures examine the elements that are needed to make sure that grant investments are targeted to priorities and effectively carried out.
Part 2: Context Measures – While not performance measures per se, these provide meaningful context to help understand and improve the execution of the grant programs.
Part 3: Collaboration Measures – This part discusses measures the Panel recommends that FEMA should assess preparedness collaborations to capture an important facet of grant performance.
In addition to the recommendations for performance measures, the Panel offers several recommendations to FEMA that will strengthen the performance of these grants. These include pairing quantitative with qualitative measures, starting the grant cycle earlier, communicating performance results more broadly, institutionalizing the nationwide plan review, and assessing how states and urban areas adapt to the decrease in number of federally funded UASIs and decline in funding.
To me the three types of measure seem predictable. The last paragraph mentions the all-important larger context considerations.