Managing Stimulus Funding Performance: A Manager's Toolkit for Meeting Current Public Sector Challenges Should Include Collaboration Tools, Electronic Payment and Processing, Multivariate Analysis, and Balanced Scorecards

Article excerpt

In this new era of responsibility and accountability, the passage of economic stimulus funding--along with demands for successful government performance--presents contemporary challenges for public managers. The challenges demand that public managers rely on collective efforts, share collective responsibility and accountability, increase cooperation and collaboration, ensure compliance, broaden communication, and encourage continuity. To meet these challenges, managers should use tools such as increased collaboration and coordination, processing of data and payments electronically, multivariate analysis to assist in planning and making choices, and balanced score-cards to account for outcomes.

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Stimulus Funding

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 is an economic stimulus package enacted by Congress in February. ARRA is intended to provide a stimulus to the U.S. economy in the wake of the economic downturn and is worth $787 billion. Basically, the stimulus includes federal tax cuts; expansion of unemployment benefits and other social welfare provisions; and domestic spending in education, healthcare, and infrastructure, including the energy sector.

Cooperation between agencies is key. However, this is not a natural process, because federal agencies must implement policy and manage budgets through discrete agency chains of command, not across the government. Federal agencies must learn how to cooperate more closely--a process that officials say is more difficult than it sounds.

Performance Management

Recently, Vince Gooden participated in the grant review paneling process to examine and rate proposals for one of the social welfare programs funded by the stimulus package. Ratings were based on how the applicants--local-level public, nonprofit, and private organizations--responded to published performance requirements, such as who is to be served, how they are to be served, who serves them, and how success and outcomes are measured.

Many successful proposals adequately described the need for services, cost effectiveness, and the extent to which they addressed performance requirements and emphasized coordination and collaboration with related services. Conversely, a number of proposals were poorly written, failed to address the proposal requirements, were not cost-effective, and showed no evidence of cooperative efforts with other service providers.

Collaboration and Coordination

The need for increased collaboration and coordination at the local level is nothing new. When surges in federal funding are made available to communities, such as in the Great Society, the need for collaborative efforts is more apparent. The Great Society was a set of domestic programs enacted in the late 1960s at the initiative of President Lyndon B. Johnson, including social reforms for eliminating poverty and racial injustice. Major ground-breaking spending programs that addressed education, medical care, urban problems, and transportation were launched during this period.

Local Human Resource Councils

In 1971, Gooden sent a letter to Elliot Richard-son, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), about the need for local human resource councils that would include the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Model Cities, county welfare agencies, and the United Way. This model group would serve as the pilot for other agencies to follow as needed or as desired. The purpose of the council was to

* plan services to the community

* coordinate services provided

* eliminate duplication of services

* provide each other assistance when applying for funds

* provide joint information about future planning.

At that time, it was suggested that the ultimate objective of the council would be greater local agency autonomy over services and more services provided as unmet needs declined. …