THE U.S. EPA's DRAFT OVERVIEW TO THE
                   FY 2016-2017 NATIONAL PROGRAM MANAGER (NPM) GUIDANCES
I.
PURPOSE
This overview introduces the EPA's new two-year process for developing NPM Guidances. This document
should be reviewed in conjunction with the FY 2016-2017 NPM Guidances to gain understanding of the
EPA's FY 2016-2017 environmental priorities and implementation strategies.
II.
NEW TWO-YEAR NPM GUIDANCE PROCESS
Beginning with FY 2016-2017, the EPA is implementing a new two-year cycle for the NPM Guidance
process, developed collaboratively with state partners and input from the American Indian Environmental
Office to reflect tribal interests. The EPA initiated this effort to advance a New Era of State. Local Tribal, and
International Partnerships, a cross-agency strategy in the FY2014-2018 EPA Strategic Plan (see Table 1
below). The new process reflects four key changes:

    1)  Earlier and more meaningful state and tribal engagement in joint priority-setting to identify the
       most important areas of work for protecting the environment and human health;
    2)  Clear and transparent support for flexibility within the NPM Guidances, including guidelines for
       seeking approval where flexibility is requested;
    3)  Better alignment of NPM Guidances and Grant Guidances to minimize workload for regions, states
       and tribes; and
    4}  Earlier and more meaningful state and tribal engagement in commitment-setting, which is aligned
       with grant work planning to the extent possible.

By way of background, the NPM Guidances set forth the strategies and actions the EPA and its state and
tribal partners will undertake to protect human health and the environment over the next two years. The
NPM and Grant Guidances help carry out the FY2014-2018 EPA Strategic Plan and annual budget by
providing operational direction to  EPA regions, states and tribes on implementing environmental and
human health protection programs. Taken together, the NPM Guidances serve as a national framework for
the regions to use as they tailor their approaches and strategies for engaging with states and tribes through
the National Environmental Performance Partnership System (NEPPS) and grant workplan negotiations.
                           Table 1: EPA's FY2014 - 2018 EPA Strategic Plan
Strategic Goals
1. Addressing Climate Change and Improving Air
Quality
2. Protecting America's Waters
3. Cleaning Up Communities and Advancing Sustainable
Development
4. Ensuring the Safety of Chemicals and Preventing
Pollution
5. Protecting Human Health and the Environment by
Enforcing Laws and Assuring Compliance

Cross-Agency Strategies
1. Working Toward a Sustainable Future
2. Working to Make a Visible Difference in
Communities
3. Launching a New Era of State, Tribal, Local, and
International Partnerships
4. Embracing EPA as a High-Performing Organization
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III.     EARLIER AND MORE MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT WITH STATES AND TRIBES

A key change for development of the FY 2016-2017 NPM Guidances is earlier and more meaningful
engagement with states and tribes on joint priority-setting. This coordinated effort now occurs during a
consistent time frame to inform NPM Guidance development. From June - October 2014, the EPA engaged
collaboratively with states and tribes to identify the most important areas of focus for protecting the
environment and human health through in-person meetings, emails, letters, calls, and coordination among
offices. In addition, the EPA sent consultation notification letters to all federally recognized tribes providing
an opportunity to submit early input and consult on the draft FY 2016-2017 NPM Guidances. Summaries of
these efforts are available on the NPM Guidance website: http://www2.epa.gov/planandbudget/national-
program-manager-guidances.

As partof this change, the draft FY 2016-2017 NPM Guidances describe howthe results of early
engagement informed their development Each NPM Guidance addresses the early engagement effort in the
Introduction and, in some cases, provides further detail in the "Explanation of Key Changes Appendix" on
the specific changes made to national areas of focus, program-specific guidance, activities and/or measures
in response to state and tribal input. For example, the EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response
NPM Guidance added language specifying that the EPA will work with states to prioritize funding for small
and rural communities without the capacity to compete successfully or manage a competitive assessment
grant In another example, the EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention's NPM Guidance
expanded activities in the Lead Risk Reduction national area of focus to emphasize EPA, state and tribal
collaboration in Risk Reduction Program authorization.

In addition to engagement on joint priority-setting, the EPA also will seek earlier and more meaningful
dialogue with states and tribes on establishing annual commitments for tracking achievement of
environmental results. Beginning in March 2015, the EPA will engage with states and tribes to solicit their
input to inform development of draft FY 2016 regional commitments. Draft regional commitments should
reflect input from states and tribes, as appropriate, and form the basis for negotiations with the program
offices. To  the extent possible, the EPA will align the early engagement on commitment-setting with grant
workplan negotiations. Engagement with states and tribes will continue through the summer to reach
agreement on final performance commitments.
IV.     PURSUING FLEXIBILITY WITHIN THE NPM GUIDANCES

Complementing the early engagement with states and tribes, this overview and the FY 2016-2017 NPM
Guidances affirm support for the EPA, states, and tribes to pursue flexibilities that advance the most
important environmental and human health work, as appropriate, and to the extent possible. The EPA
recognizes the importance of working collaboratively with states and tribes to streamline workload and
leverage resources to meet efficiently and effectively the collective mission to protect human health and the
environment. In that regard, the NPM Guidances reflect the following:

    ^  Language affirming and articulating the intent to address flexibility issues within identified
       parameters and using available agency processes (e.g., Grant Guidances; NEPPS, including
       PPAs/PPGs; etc.).
    ^  General language that refers to program-specific flexibilities found in the NPM Guidances (e.g.,
       Introduction, sections on National Areas of Focus and Program-Specific Guidance).
    >  General guidelines for seeking approval for flexibilities (including how to address situations where
       NPM-specific policies/strategies impact grant negotiations) and elevating issues, as needed, as well
       as references to more specific information in each of the NPM Guidances on approaches to seek
       approval for flexibilities and elevate issues, as needed.
    ^  Examples of NPM-specific flexibilities, as appropriate.

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Each NPM Guidance affirms and articulates the support for states and tribes to address flexibility issues as
they relate to work planning and describes the general process for addressing issues or concerns. For
example, the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation NPM Guidance encourages flexibility and tailoring of work
expectations and resource allocations to address local issue areas. In addition, the EPA's Office of
Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) NPM Guidance provides the general guidelines and
process that states and tribes should pursue if resources are insufficient to implement fully its activities.
OECA's NPM Guidance also highlights its compliance monitoring strategies, an expanded set of tools for
addressing local pollution and compliance, which were revised in FY 2014 to provide increased flexibility
to the EPA and state agencies. The EPA's Office of Water NPM Guidance also describes its work with each
state to evaluate and set programmatic and performance goals to maximize water quality improvement
and achieve state and EPA regional priorities across Clean Water Act programs.
V.     CONSIDERATIONS FOR GRANTS MANAGEMENT

   A.  Pursuing Flexibilities through the National Environmental Performance Partnership System

       The National Environmental Performance Partnership System (NEPPS), now in its 20th year,
       supports strong and effective working relationships with states and tribes through a partnership
       model centered on achieving programmatic, financial, and management flexibility. Coupled with
       strong accountability mechanisms, NEPPS jointly strives to ensure achievement of environmental
       and human health outcomes. NEPPS provides a process and tools for states and tribes to pursue
       both programmatic and administrative flexibilities in identifying and implementing environmental
       priorities through state grant agreements with the EPA. Longer-term planning documents, such as
       Performance Partnership Agreements (PPAs), Tribal Environmental Agreements (TEAs), and EPA-
       Tribal Environmental Plans (ETEPSs), can serve as strategic negotiated plans under NEPPS -
       articulating joint goals and priorities, key activities, roles, and responsibilities. PPAs are often
       combined with and provide the strategic umbrella for Performance Partnership Grants (PPGs),
       which enable states and tribes to combine up to 19 categorical environmental program grants into
       a single blended grant agreement with one consolidated workplan and budget. PPGs offer savings
       on administrative costs as well as the ability to shift resources to address priorities and cross-
       cutting efforts that may be challenging to support through individual categorical grants.

       As described earlier, the FY 2016-2017 NPM Guidances include new features that support
       Performance Partnerships with states and tribes, such as identifying areas where flexibilities can be
       sought and providing additional guidance for seeking approval; instituting a process for early
       engagement among partners around issues that are NPM-specific and across programs; and
       establishing alignment with the EPA's various programmatic Grant Guidances.


   B.  Utilization of Multi-Year Grant Workplans

       The EPA is making the use of multi-year grant workplans an agency priority to achieve better
       alignment with NPM and programmatic Grant Guidances and increase administrative efficiency.
       Multi-year grant wo rkplans have been used in varying degrees by EPA regions, states, and tribes
       and provide additional benefits over annual workplans for managing continuing environmental
       program grants and, in particular, those with a project component Multi-year grant workplans
       broaden the planning horizon and allow for better alignment with the new two-year NPM
       Guidances, thus providing a greater ability to plan strategically and address and respond to
       changing conditions during the term of the grant. In addition, longer project periods increase
       administrative efficiency by reducing the number of grant applications required and help ensure


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       financial stability during periods of federal and state budget uncertainty, especially when using
       multi-year PPGs, which include funds for multiple years and grant programs.

       The State Grants Subgroup of the ECOS-EPA Partnership and Performance Workgroup will review
       and address implementation considerations around multi-year grant workplans, and the Office of
       Grants and Debarment will provide additional guidance, as needed, during the second quarter of FY
       2015.
   C.  Alignment of NPM and Grant Guidances

       Better alignment of the NPM and Grant Guidances helps streamline and facilitate the grant work
       planning process and potentially reduces workload for EPA regions, states, and tribes. The EPA is
       now issuing select Grant Guidances on a two-year cycle to coincide with the FY 2016-2017 NPM
       Guidances (see Table 2 below).
Table 2: Grant Guidances Identified for Alignment
NPM
OAR
OAR
OAR
OAR
OW
OW
OW
OW
OCSPP
OECA
OCSPP/OECA
Grant Guidance
State/Local Air Grant Program (CAA Sec. 103, 105, 106)
Tribal Air Grant Program (CAA Sec. 103, 105)
State Indoor Radon Grant Program (TSCA Sec. 10 and 306)
Diesel Emission Reduction Act Program (DERA)
Water Pollution Control (CWA Sec. 106)
Public Water System Supervision (PWSS) (SDWA Sec. 1443 (a))
Underground Injection Control (SDWA 1443 (b))
Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF)
TSCA Section 404(g) Lead-Based Paint Programs State, Territory,
District of Columbia, Tribal and Federal Grant Guidance
Toxic Substances Compliance Monitoring Cooperative Agreement
Program Grant Guidance (TSCA Sec. 28 & 404)
Joint OPP/OECA FIFRA Cooperative Agreement Guidance (FIFRA
Sec. 23(a)(l) and (2) (which was already issued for FY 2015-2017)
       OSWER is also working to organize and coordinate the issuance of draft and final programmatic
       guidance, including Grants Guidances, to coincide to the extent possible with state, tribal, and
       regional planning processes.
   D.  Ensuring Compliance with Title VI

       Ensuring compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is an agency priority. NPMs
       coordinated with the Office of Administration and Resources Management, the Office of Civil Rights
       (OCR), and the Office of General Counsel to assign tasks to EPA regions to ensure all applicants for,
       and recipients of, the EPA's financial assistance are in compliance and do not take actions involving
       either discriminatory treatment or that have discriminatory effects. In addition, the EPA is
       collaborating with states to prioritize specific areas of mutual interest with respect to civil rights
       laws and engaging with states to learn their best practices in complying with civil rights laws. This
       work will be included in a "Compliance Toolkit for EPA Recipients" being developed by OCR.
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