vvEPA
 United States
 Environmental Protection
 Agency
                                                         Office of Policy
                                                         (1807T)
November 2011
EPA-100-F-11-030
                                 Evaluation of the Region  7 Tribal Grants Programmatic
                                 Processes
  Fact  Sheet
http://www.epa.gov/evaluate
For more information on this and
other completed evaluations at
EPA or the Evaluation Support
Division, visit the above link.
Introduction

  There are nine tribal nations within the geographic boundaries of EPA Region 7,
   seven of which currently receive EPA grants.
  Region 7 tribes have expressed concerns about the programmatic grants
   processes, noting that requirements among the different media programs may be
   conflicting or inefficient and that their priorities have not been sufficiently
   recognized and addressed through programmatic grant processes.
  The Region 7 Tribal Program commissioned this evaluation to assess EPA's
   internal processes from initial communications with tribes through submittal in
   IGMS.

Evaluation Questions

1.  How can Region 7 make its tribal grant processes more efficient, consistent, and
   transparent across Regional program areas as well as tribes?
2.  How can Region 7 improve its communication and coordination with tribes
   throughout the entire grants process, from negotiation of grant applications to the
   management of activities conducted under the grants?
3.  Are there ways for the different Region 7 programs to coordinate and collaborate
   for improved (e.g., consistent) grants management and tribal relations, while still
   effectively utilizing their specific programmatic expertise?

Evaluation Methods

  Focus on four grants EPA issues to tribes: CAA 103, CWA 106, CERCLA 128(a),
   and GAP
  Review of existing EPA Headquarters and Region  7 guidance documents related
   to programmatic and administrative functioning of the tribal grant programs;
  Interviews with EPA Region 7 grants and programmatic personnel as well as
   tribal environmental staff; and
  Developed program-specific organizational charts and process maps to illustrate
   and organize information received from interviews  and guidance documents.

Key Findings

  Efficiency, Consistency, and Transparency

  For the most part, the grant programs evaluated follow the same steps in
   administering tribal grants, but there are distinctions in how the programs
   implement these steps.
  Issues that arise are generally attributable to the implementation of the steps
   rather than the steps themselves.

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Efficiency, Consistency, and Transparency (cont.)
   Overall, the biggest "sticking point" in the process occurs around workplan negotiation.
   Different program responsibilities as well as budget and staffing realities directly motivate the regional program
    offices' structures; distinctions in the organization can impact interactions internally or with the tribes.

  Communication with the Tribes and Issues Affecting Workplan Negotiation

   Many of the issues identified had a common underlying theme: communication issues and personality
    clashes between EPA and tribal personnel.
   Due to tribal environmental staff turnover, EPA staff often works with tribal staff who have limited
    experience with grants management.
   Tribal staff cited the turnover of EPA project officers as contributing to delays in the workplan
    negotiation position. Although newly-assigned EPA project officers may not be inexperienced in
    grants management, they may lack experience  in working with tribes.
   There  is a need for more face-to-face or direct communication to improve the efficiency of the review
    of workplan and QAPP submissions.
   Interviewees noted that more comprehensive and interactive training on working with tribes as
    sovereign entities would benefit EPA staff.

  Collaboration among Region 7 Programs

   There  is no systematic procedure in place to review grants across programs.  Some EPA program
    representatives indicated that their grants' workplans are cross-checked by GAP  PO, however this
    occurs only on a periodic and ad hoc basis.
   Uncertainty exists over which activities can be funded under GAP.  This is not unique to Region 7 and
    is being addressed by the Agency as a whole.

Recommendations

   Implement grant programs as consistently as practicable by adhering to Best Management Practices
    developed by the Regional and Tribal Communications Workgroup;
   Enhance transparency by sharing  clear descriptions of the  process with Tribes;
   Identify organizational design features that facilitate or hinder efficient operation of the grant program
    and collaboration among programs;
   Increase direct and face-to-face meetings with Tribes, especially early on and if workplan negotiations
    hit a snag. When not possible, use webinars and other electronic tools to facilitate communication;
   Better equip EPA staff to work effectively with Tribal staff through improved  training;
   Include an assessment of EPA staffs effectiveness in working with Tribes as part of the annual
    performance review process; and
   Formalize the internal process to review grants  among programs to ensure that activities are funded
    under the right grants and to limit duplication of effort without putting undue  strain on any program
    office.

Contact(s)

   Britta Johnson, Office of Policy, Evaluation Support Division, Johnson.britta@epa.qov
   Ashley Betts, EPA Region 7, Office of Policy and Management, betts.ashlev@epa.gov
   Heather Hamilton, EPA Region 7,  Office of Tribal Affairs, hamilton.heather@epa.gov

Report Link:  http://www.epa.gov/evaluate/reports.htm

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