CSBG Spotlight: Kansas Teamwork Improves Data Collection and Validation Process

Over the course of the last year, the Kansas Housing Resource Corporation (KHRC) partnered with the Kansas Association of Community Action Programs (KACAP) to improve their data collection and validation processes. Recognizing the challenges put forth by the Obama administration for performance measurement, they both saw the value in improving CSBG sub-grantee program planning and reporting. The KHRC and KACAP representatives collectively planned project approaches and KHRC deployed CSBG discretionary resources, in the form of grants to the Association, to support KACAP staff involvement.  The grants allowed KACAP to conduct on-site data validation visits at each Kansas CSBG sub-grantee administrative office.

During the visits, KACAP’s KanDo! ROMA Coordinator reviewed the structure and use of the statewide data collection software program, CAPTAIN. The Coordinator also discussed how each agency collected and retained information that supported the collected data and how the sub-grantees’ program progress and outcome reports were generated.  When changes were recommended, most were made immediately during the KanDo! ROMA Coordinator’s visit and all findings and recommendations were recorded in written reports provided within 30 days of the visit by KACAP to both the agency and the KHRC CSBG Program Manager.  Due to the success of this approach, on-site data validation visits are now slated to occur annually.

The KHRC CSBG Program Manager also helped plan and support a detailed review and analysis of each CSBG sub-grantee’s quarterly outcome and demographic reports submitted to the State. Building on the existing strong relationship with KACAP and drawing on the KACAP KanDo! Coordinator’s expertise in ROMA, Kansas CSBG reporting, and the CAPTAIN database system, KHRC provided CSBG discretionary resources to KACAP that enabled KACAP staff to conduct in-depth reviews of the quarterly reports submitted by CSBG sub-grantees.  Reported program outcomes were compared to targeted outcomes as well as to similar or identical outcomes from each CAA in the previous year. Pertinent questions and recommendations were brought to the attention of CAA staff, including the CAA Executive Director, and also shared with the KHRC CSBG Program Manager.

The detailed analysis has helped the CSBG Program Manager in monitoring CAA performance and resulted in improved reporting and program planning by individual CSBG sub-grantees.  The KanDo! ROMA Coordinator discovered that most issues addressed in the quarterly report analysis projects did not resurface in information provided by CSBG sub-grantees for the annual CSBG IS Report, pointing to an immediate, statewide improvement in reporting and accountability as a result of the project.

During the recent data improvement process, several CSBG sub-grantees expressed, through their participation in the statewide KanDo! Taskforce, the need for an improved data collection and reporting system for CSBG.   In response, KHRC financially supported and participated in a comprehensive review and comparison of available CSBG data collection and reporting software products.  This involved identifying systems, presenting options to Kansas CSBG network representatives, and planning and coordinating statewide meetings. The comprehensive review has required the dedication of time and resources of KHRC staff, as well as support of the strong partnership between the KHRC and the KACAP.

The project demonstrates responsiveness to changing federal requirements as well as to local agency needs. The unified effort of the Kansas Housing Resource Corporation, the Kansas Association of Community Action Programs, and the local Community Action Agencies tells a powerful message about how they are stronger as a network. They can address the President’s concerns and tackle issues together.

Source: Kansas FY 2010 CSBG IS Survey

Edited by Mark Schmeissing