Agencies aren’t evaluating results of social programs, report says

Federal agencies have virtually no idea whether most social service programs designed to help the needy actually work, according to a Bush administration report released last week. The report, "Unlevel Playing Field," documented a series of bureaucratic hurdles that prevent faith-based and community-based groups from participating in federal social service programs. The effect of their exclusion is not clear, the report argued, because most social service programs lack performance measures as required under the 1993 Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). As a result, agencies have no way of knowing if the current system of awarding social service grants to large, secular organizations is a success, the report said. "These federal programs may be doing significant good, and the grantees that routinely win renewed support may be the best available" said the report. "However, in the absence of meaningful performance reviews, agencies have no concrete basis for concluding so." While the report concluded that federal agencies are biased against collaboration with religious organizations - a finding emphasized by President Bush and White House officials - faith-based groups also suffer in a federal grants system that rewards the same organizations year after year regardless of performance, according to the report. For example, eleven large organizations routinely share the largest number of grants from the Labor Department's Senior Community Service Employment Program, according to the report. While Labor has developed performance goals for its programs, department officials cannot independently evaluate information submitted by grantees, the report found. The Education Department has had even less success with creating performance measures that program managers actually use, the report said. "At Education, most program offices were unfamiliar with their programs' GPRA objectives and could not even locate the GPRA reports," said the report. Agencies face real obstacles in developing performance measures to evaluate the success or failure of federal grants, according to experts and the report. The outcomes of social service programs are notoriously difficult to quantify, said Donald Kettl, a scholar with the University of Wisconsin's LaFollette Institute of Public Affairs in Madison. And Uncle Sam does not routinely collect performance data on organizations that receive grants - which are often selected by state and local governments - according to the report. But agencies must do a better job of evaluating how social service programs are working, the report concluded. "This record indicates the need for an across-the-board emphasis on demonstrating the actual efficiency of the programs that government funds," the report said.
Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.