BH TIG Week: Hot Tip: Don’t Stop “Doing GPRA” by Terrence Tutchings

Hi, I’m Terrence (Terry) Tutchings, owner of Terrence R. Tutchings, Ph.D. & Associates, a consulting company that provides training and support of evidence-based processes, services and data for management and accountability related to substance abuse intervention and treatment, HIV interventions, and public health campaigns and inter-group relations. In this blog, I emphasize that it is critical we continue to collect and report Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) performance data.

Most of our clients are faith-based organizations and community-based organizations with federal and state grants and contracts requiring submission of GPRA performance data.  We started “doing GPRA” in 1995 with a SAMHSA Community Coalition grant in south Texas. The Coalition has been in continuous operation for 23 years and GPRA data have helped our clients focus their programs and record-keeping. GPRA data have been part of many successful applications for funding from government and philanthropic sources. GPRA data were critical components of published manuscripts and presentations at professional meetings.

Read Any Reviews Lately?

Jennifer Szalai gets right to it in the recent New York Times’ Books of the Times. In his latest book, The Fifth Risk, Michael Lewis asks “amiable civil servants” to enumerate the risks that confront government today:

“Many of the problems our government grapples with aren’t particularly ideological,” Lewis writes . . . you’ll be turning the pages as he recounts the (often surprising) . . . risks one through four (an attack by North Korea, war with Iran, etc.) before you learn that the scary-sounding “fifth risk” of the title is — brace yourself — “project management.”

Szalai summarizes: “If there are dangerous fools in this book, there are also heroes, unsung, of course. They are the linchpins of the system?those public servants whose knowledge, dedication, and proactivity keep the machinery running. Michael Lewis finds them, and he asks them what keeps them up at night.”

Why bother to “keep the machinery running?”  

In September 2017, the state of GPRA was reported in GAO’s MANAGING FOR RESULTS, Further Progress Made in Implementing the GPRA Modernization Act, but Additional Actions Needed to Address Pressing Governance Challenges.  Public servants at GAO and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) propose to keep alive the original intent and expanded scope of GPRAMA. They note:

“Full implementation of GPRAMA could facilitate efforts to reform the federal government and make it more effective. . . GPRAMA implementation has affected the federal government’s progress in resolving key governance challenges in 1) addressing cross­cutting issues, 2) ensuring performance information is useful and used, 3) aligning daily operations with results, and 4) building a more transparent and open government.”

They go on to state, “In addition to following through on plans to resume implementation of key GPRAMA provisions, GAO recommends that OMB: 1) consider . . . developing the program inventory, 2) revise . . . inventory implementation, 3) . . . expanding the use of data-driven reviews, and 4) update to explain that reporting on priority goals was suspended . . . OMB staff agreed with these recommendations.”

Summary: Updated publications addressing accountability questions for CEOs, COOs, CFOs, accountants, professional organizations – and evaluation colleagues – continue to point in the direction proposed by GAO—full implementation of GPRAMA.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Behavioral Health (BH) TIG Week with our colleagues in Behavioral Health Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our BH TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


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