Detailed Information on the
Rural Water and Wastewater Grants and Loans Assessment

Program Code 10000458
Program Title Rural Water and Wastewater Grants and Loans
Department Name Department of Agriculture
Agency/Bureau Name Rural Utilities Service
Program Type(s) Credit Program
Assessment Year 2005
Assessment Rating Effective
Assessment Section Scores
Section Score
Program Purpose & Design 80%
Strategic Planning 100%
Program Management 100%
Program Results/Accountability 87%
Program Funding Level
(in millions)
FY2007 $1,521
FY2008 $1,566
FY2009 $1,599
Program funding level includes grant budget authority and the annual amount of loans awarded or guaranteed.

Ongoing Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

Developing additional efficiency measures that assess the cost effectiveness and total cost to the government (program plus administrative costs) of the program.

Action taken, but not completed The development of cost effecitve performance measurment is being evaluated by Rural Development. No further development has occured.

Completed Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

Implementing newly developed long term measures to ensure that targets are met and continue to be ambitious.

Completed Water and Waste consistently meets Targets and improves program performance.

Program Performance Measures

Term Type  
Long-term Outcome

Measure: Sustainable water systems in rural communities mesured by the percentage of borowers that meet or exceed the industry standards financial ratios in accordance with data reported by the USDA Economic Research Service (2005 will be provided when ERS publishes report).

Explanation:This measure tracks borrower financial ratios (current ratio, Debt to income ratio, O&M ratio, Debt service coverage ratio) and debt per capita to provide a gauge of borrower viability.

Year Target Actual
2004 Baseline 90%
2005 90% 58.01%
2006 90% 59.78%
2007 90% 50.15%
2010 90%
2012 90%
Annual Efficiency

Measure: Loan/Grant Ratio

Explanation:An efficiency measure used to improve the loan to grant mix so that more loan dollars are used by systems that can afford maximum debt capacity and grant funds will be used by needy systems.

Year Target Actual
2002 60/40 61/39
2003 60/40 63/37
2004 Baseline 63/37
2005 65/35 69/31
2006 67/33 74/26
2007 70/30 75/25
2008 70/30
2009 70/30
Long-term Outcome

Measure: Between FY 2006 and FY 2010, reduce rural peoples' exposure to water related health and safety hazards, i.e. waterborne illnesses, carcinogens, and potential security risks by 25%.

Explanation:Rural population according to the 2000 census was 21% of the national total or 59 million people. WEP projects have a significant impact on the health and safety of the rural population through financing improvement to water infrastructure. This measures the extent of the impact in terms of the percent of rural population served by water facility projects that correct or eliminate health and safety hazards. The goal, over the 5-year period from 2006 to 2010, is to impact 25% of the rural population at an average annual rate of 5% per year.

Year Target Actual
2002 ---- 2.5%
2003 ---- 3.7%
2004 Baseline 3.1%
2005 5% 3.5%
2006 ---- 4.78%
2007 ---- 8.95%
2010 25%
2011 30%
2012 35%
Annual Output

Measure: Referrals to commercial credit

Explanation:"This measure tracks the amount of assistance requested by applicants referred to commercial credit for funding, including interim financing as a percent of the dollar amount of loans closed. "

Year Target Actual
2005 Baseline 19.44%
2006 6% 52.44%
2007 7% 30.60%
2008 32%
2009 37%
Annual Output

Measure: Subscribers receiving new or improved service from Agency funded water facility

Explanation:This measure tracks the number of subscribers annually receiving improved service from Agency funded water systems.

Year Target Actual
2004 ---- 965,780
2005 650,000 1,300,000
2006 570,000 1,637,554
2007 557,000 1,322,063
2008 1,380,000
2009 1,418,000
Annual Output

Measure: Leveraged funds for project development

Explanation:This measure tracks the percent of total project costs from non-agency sources for Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program funded projects.

Year Target Actual
2004 NA 27.3%
2005 28% 31.83%
2006 29% 33.66%
2007 30% 30.05%
2008 30%
2009 30%

Questions/Answers (Detailed Assessment)

Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design
Number Question Answer Score

Is the program purpose clear?

Explanation: The Water and Waste Disposal program mission is to provide loan, grant, and technical assistance for drinking water, sanitary sewer, solid waste disposal, and storm drainage facilities in rural areas. The program is focused on assisting small rural communities in providing safe drinking water and safe waste disposal.

Evidence: The program is authorized in Section 306 of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act, as amended (7 U.S.C. 1926).

YES 20%

Does the program address a specific and existing problem, interest, or need?

Explanation: The need for water and wastewater facilities in rural areas continues to place a heavy demand on the agency's limited resources. The EPA Clean Watersheds Needs Survey 2000 showed that small communities of under 10,000 have documented needs of $16 billion for wastewater systems. Needs for drinking water are significantly higher. The EPA 1999 drinking water survey showed $48.1 billion in needs for communities of 10,000 or less and $31.2 billion in needs for communities of 3,300 or less. GAO reported that RUS has provided local communities $4.5 billion in grants, $7.1 billion in loans, and $550 million in loan guarantees from fiscal years 1991 through 2000. However, a backlog of applications continues.

Evidence: A number of public and private organizations have documented the funding demand for water and wastewater facilities: the Environmental Protection Agency, USDA Economic Research Service, Water Infrastructure Network, American Society of Civil Engineers, and American Water Works Association. GAO issued Water Infrastructure: Information on Federal and State Financial Assistance (GAO-02-134) in November 2001.

YES 20%

Is the program designed so that it is not redundant or duplicative of any other Federal, state, local or private effort?

Explanation: The WWD Program has major commonalities with other Federal programs that provide assistance to communities for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements. The differences lie in the programmatic approaches and focus of each program in addressing safe drinking water and clean water issues. Unlike other Federal programs that offer only grants, the WWD program offers a "complete package" of direct loans, guaranteed loans, and grants exclusively to rural areas and communities. The complement of funds may finance the facilities and projects that other Federal programs cannot finance, for example, dams, water rights, or reservoirs. Financing and technical assistance are delivered directly to communities instead of through State programs as EPA, EDA, and HUD programs do.

Evidence: According to the General Accounting Office, 10 Federal agencies provide funding for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure improvements. RUS is one of four agencies that account for 98 percent of the total Federal funding. Six other agencies provide financial assistance in limited amounts. Information is found in the GAO Congressional report, Water Infrastucture: Information on Federal and State Financial Assistance, published in November 2001.

NO 0%

Is the program design free of major flaws that would limit the program's effectiveness or efficiency?

Explanation: Program effectiveness is maintained by an application rating system that gives priority to projects that are needed to correct a health deficiency or meet a health standard. Priority is also given to projects serving small, low income communities and projects that promote a regional solution to water or wastewater needs. Efficiency is achieved through judicious use of loan and grant funds for financially feasible projects that can generate sufficient revenue to meet operational expenses, pay debt service, establish adequate reserves, and still maintain reasonable user rates. Each proposal is reviewed to ensure that loan funds are utilized to the maximum extent possible, thus conserving limited grant funds.

Evidence: Program regulations codify the priority rating system and feasibility analysis (7 CFR 1780). The annual cohort data used to determine the loan subsidy documents the number of loans at the three interest rate levels. The data demonstrates that a large majority of projects serve low income communities. Management data show that over 91% of FY 2004 loan obligations went to communities with a MHI that is less than the State Non-Metro MHI. The FY 2005 Federal Credit Supplement shows the recovery rate at 99.9%. To promote program efficiency, funds were allocated to the RD State Director using a 75%-25% loan grant split in FY 2005.

YES 20%

Is the program design effectively targeted so that resources will address the program's purpose directly and will reach intended beneficiaries?

Explanation: With a considerable backlog of applications, RUS has established a priority ranking system in its regulations to target financial and technical resources to the neediest communities. Water and waste projects designated as priorities for financial assistance are those that (1) serve low population communities, (2) address health risks, and (3) serve communities with median household income less than the poverty level or the State non-metropolitan median. The National Office also has discretion to establish priorities for projects based on identified target areas, specific set asides, and reserve accounts. Projects may be given priority consideration for emergency conditions and cost overruns.

Evidence: The priority ranking system is outlined in the RUS regulation, 7 CFR 1780, section 1780.17. Each fiscal year the following programs have set-asides: EZ/EC, Emergency Community Water Assistance Grants, Section 306C grants for colonias and Native American tribes, Predevelopment Planning Grants, and Alaskan Village Grants.

YES 20%
Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design Score 80%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning
Number Question Answer Score

Does the program have a limited number of specific long-term performance measures that focus on outcomes and meaningfully reflect the purpose of the program?

Explanation: "Rural population according to the 2000 census was 21% of the national total or 59 million people. WEP projects have a significant impact on the health and safety of the rural population through financing improvement to water infrastructure. This measures the extent of the impact in terms of the percent of rural population served by water facility projects that correct or eliminate health and safety hazards. The long term performance measure is to reduce rural peoples' exposure to water related health and safety hazards; i.e. waterborne illnesses, carcinogens, and potential security risks. The goal, over the 5-year period from 2006 to 2010, is to impact 25% of the rural population at an average annual rate of 5% per year. ' "

Evidence: "Long-term performance is documented in the Water and Environmental (WEP) Annual Activity Reports, WEP Funding in Colonias reports, and the Native American and Alaskan Villages Funding reports. EPA non-compliance data will be used to identify systems that do not meet applicable health and sanitary standards. "

YES 12%

Does the program have ambitious targets and timeframes for its long-term measures?

Explanation: "The target for the period of 2006 through 2010 is 25%. The past 3-year average percent of the rural population with reduced exposure to health and safety hazards is 3.1%. At that rate we would achieve 15.5% over a 5-year period. However, we anticipate our percentage to increase due to an increased demand for improvements to remove health and safety problems. In addition project scoring gives priority to projects needed to remove health and safety hazards. To meet the goal, the agency must improve its efforts in serving the targeted population by increasing the 5-year rate from 15.5% to 25%-- overall a 61% increase. "

Evidence: "EPA's data on non-compliant systems. WEP annual activity report. Census data on rural population. "

YES 12%

Does the program have a limited number of specific annual performance measures that can demonstrate progress toward achieving the program's long-term goals?

Explanation: "Annual measures: 1 - Increase the funding participation in projects from non-USDA sources. The measure allows the agency to use its limited resources more effectively in serving rural people, thus increasing the number of rural residents that receive new or improved service (long-term goal 1). 2 - Increase the number of applicants that are referred to commercial credit sources. By utilizing commercial credit more effectively, agency resources are conserved, promoting an overall increase in the number of rural residents receiving new or improved service (long-term goal 1). Borrowers that maintain strong financial ratios are more likely to access commercial credit, thus supporting the agency's long-term goal 2. 3 - Provide new or improved service to rural residents. An annual goal is established each year based on available funding and expectations for leveraging and commercial credit participation. Increased leveraging and commercial credit support long-term goal 1 by increasing the number of projects f"

Evidence: USDA's Annual Performance Plan. Annual Staff Instruction 1780-5 issued annually requiring states to provide allocation levels and clarify priorities for the year.

YES 12%

Does the program have baselines and ambitious targets for its annual measures?

Explanation: "The baseline and targets for the annual goals are intended to measure the agency's annual performance and progress towards meeting its long-term goals. Annual measure 1 - Increase the funding participation in projects from non-USDA sources. The 2002 baseline of 21.5% has consistently improved up to 27.3% in FY 2004. The target for 2005 is 28%, increasing to 30% by 2007. The target is ambitious since most of the funds from non-USDA sources are loans or highly competitive grants. Annual measure 2 - Increase the number of applicants that are referred to commercial credit sources. The agency proposes to refer 6% of its applicants to commercial lenders in FY 2006, increasing up to 10% in 2010. This is especially aggressive since the performance in past years has been near zero. Annual measure 3 - Provide new or improved service to rural residents. With a baseline of 468,000, the goal for FY 2005 is 650,000, a 38% increase. With the program level remaining steady, this goal will require an aggressive use of"

Evidence: Results are published in the Water and Environmental Programs Annual Activity Report and the Performance Accountability Report as part of GPRA reporting.

YES 12%

Do all partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, and other government partners) commit to and work toward the annual and/or long-term goals of the program?

Explanation: Through MOUs, RUS and its partners have established goals and objectives consistent with agency goals. RUS coordinates with HUD, EPA, and the Indian Health Service, for example, to develop projects and provide service to rural residents (long-term goal 1 and annual goal 3). Under MOUs with the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Delta Regional Authority, and the Economic Development Administration, RUS administers funding and provides project oversight. The increased leveraged funds support annual goal 1. Grant recipients of the Solid Waste Management Program and the Technical Assistance and Training Program provide assistance to rural communities to obtain safe drinking water and sanitary waste facilities, expanding RUS's ability to serve rural residents (long-term goal 1). Under a performance-based contract with RUS, the National Rural Water Association provides technical assistance to help communities maintain and operate water and sewer facilities.

Evidence: "Executed MOUs, contracts and grant agreements document the parties commitment to rural development and service to rural residents in providing safe drinking water and sanitary waste disposal. Each agency or organization submits progress reports and accounts to RUS as required by the MOU or MOA, grant agreement, or contract. In FY 2004, RUS administered 51 grants for ARC and DRA for a total of $14 million. Through the Circuit Rider contract, over 48,000 technical assistance calls were made in rural communities."

YES 12%

Are independent evaluations of sufficient scope and quality conducted on a regular basis or as needed to support program improvements and evaluate effectiveness and relevance to the problem, interest, or need?

Explanation: "The program's performance is routinely monitored though several types of reviews: OIG/GAO periodically review various aspects of the program. OIG reviewed homeland security and grants management in FY 2004. The agency conducts Management Control Reviews (MCR) of critical program aspects on a regular basis. Programs are evaluated against USDA and other Federal standards. WEP conducts program reviews on a 5- year cycle. Nine reviews are scheduled in FY 2005. State operations are evaluated against optimal program management standards. State Directors perform State Internal Reviews periodically to compare state operations to standard practices and guidelines to identify potential areas of improvement. "

Evidence: Agency regulations, primarily 7 CFR 1780 and 7 CFR 1951, and Agency MCR guidelines.

YES 12%

Are Budget requests explicitly tied to accomplishment of the annual and long-term performance goals, and are the resource needs presented in a complete and transparent manner in the program's budget?

Explanation: "Budget formulation and justification are based on historic program activity plus the backlog of application on hand. Historic program activity is determined by the accomplishments towards long-term goal 1 (access to modern facilities) and projections for meeting the annual goal 3 (serve rural residents). The program level is estimated to provide the necessary financing needed to meet these targets. The impact of annual goals 1 and 2 (leveraging and referrals to other credit) is also taken into account in determining the overall program level. Loan and grant amounts are based on the accomplishments towards long-term goal 2 (sustainable rural systems) and the annual efficiency goal for loan-grant ratio. The efforts to finance the applications on hand and to meet the loan-grant ratio through improved underwriting support the development of sustainable systems and the utilization of the program level funding. "

Evidence: The Federal Budget, USDA's Explanatory Notes, and the "Weekly Loan and Grant Status Report."

YES 12%

Has the program taken meaningful steps to correct its strategic planning deficiencies?

Explanation: The Office of Inspector General issued a report that showed that RUS was evaluating other credit inadequately. RUS has addressed this by implementing an Underwriting tool that analyzes data to determine the extent that commercial credit can be used. To ensure implementation, RUS has created a performance measure for referrals to other commercial credit. The underwriting program identifies applicants that have the resources and the ability to use commercial credit as part of their financing package. Leveraging RUS loans and grant with commercial credit and other non-USDA funds will support the agency's long-term goals.

Evidence: "OIG audit, "Rural Utilities Service, Water and Waste Program: Grant Eligibility, #09601-6-KC, September 2003. Version 4.0 of the Community Programs Application Processing system was released on March 15, 2005. It incorporated an underwriting program that evaluates an applicant's ability to finance the proposed project with commercial credit. Qualifying applicants are referred to commercial lenders to meet their credit need. "

YES 12%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning Score 100%
Section 3 - Program Management
Number Question Answer Score

Does the agency regularly collect timely and credible performance information, including information from key program partners, and use it to manage the program and improve performance?

Explanation: The Agency tracks obligations by the States and pools unobligated funds twice a year to ensure that funds are directed to those with the most needs. On a periodic basis, the agency measures key performance indicators such as delinquency, preauthorized debit, and electronic funds transfer. Borrower performance is tracked through quarterly management reports and annual audits. Borrower data is used to evaluate financial ratios. Periodic inspections are made of borrower's facilities to ensure proper operation and compliance with the terms of the loans and grants.

Evidence: Borrower reports required by 7 CFR 1780. Results are published in the WEP Annual Activity Report, monthly delinquency reports, and security inspection reports.

YES 11%

Are Federal managers and program partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, and other government partners) held accountable for cost, schedule and performance results?

Explanation: "Program managers' performance plans were linked to the agency's performance goals and the President's Management Agenda. State Directors and State Community Program Directors are rated, in part, on their performance in fully utilizing program funds and maintaining a loan recovery rate. Borrowers, consultants and contactors are held accountable for performance and schedule through loan/grant agreements and contract provisions. The agency monitors monthly activity to ensure key program partners are performing in accordance with the terms and conditions of the agreements and contracts."

Evidence: Employee performance appraisals document program managers' accountability for agency goals. Guidance is in 7 CFR 1780. Standard contract documents stipulate the performance and schedule accountability of the borrower and its contractors.

YES 11%

Are funds (Federal and partners') obligated in a timely manner and spent for the intended purpose?

Explanation: All appropriated funds are obligated each year. Field staff monitor the use of funds through project completion.

Evidence: "Guidance in 7 CFR 1780. WEP Weekly Obligation Report WEP Annual Activity Report State Internal Reviews and audit reviews are performed."

YES 11%

Does the program have procedures (e.g. competitive sourcing/cost comparisons, IT improvements, appropriate incentives) to measure and achieve efficiencies and cost effectiveness in program execution?

Explanation: "Loan and grant funds are allocated to the State Directors with a specific loan-grant ratio. RUS tracks their obligations to ensure that funds are utilized in accordance with the loan-grant ratio efficiency measure. Unobligated loan and grant funds are pooled twice a year to ensure they are fully utilized and the efficiency measure is achieved. Focusing on higher loan to grant ratio helps the Government to provide more assistance with the same BA or alternatively do the same amount of assistance with less BA. By keeping the loan to grant ratio in check by assessing what is an appropriate user rate for the community, the government spends less BA than they otherwise would on each project. The community typically receives a loan/grant combination. The grant is usually only around 35-45% of the project cost (it can be up to 75%) because the maximum grant approved is only the amount that would bring the user rates down to what is reasonable for the area. If each project that qualified for grants got the full 75% authorized in statute, there would be excess subsidy for each pro- ject in that the user rates would now be below market unnecessarily. By tracking the loan-grant ratio and focusing on established targets, RUS ensures the system users are paying an equitable user rate and taxpayer dollars are used efficiently."

Evidence: "Staff Instruction 1780-5, Allocation of Program Funds. WEP Weekly Loan and Grant Status Report"

YES 11%

Does the program collaborate and coordinate effectively with related programs?

Explanation: RUS coordinates funding, technical assistance, and overlapping strategic planning issues with other Federal and state programs that focus on drinking water issues and infrastructure. It often produces funding packages with other agencies such as HUD/CDBG, Indian Health Service, Appalachian Regional Commission, the Delta Regional Authority, and the Economic Development Administration. At the State level, the program plans and coordinates funding with state funding agencies, planning commissions, and non-profit organizations to develop project funding and technical assistance. Under the MOUs, RUS provides administrative and project oversight for the other agencies because of its expertise with utility financing and infrastructure management. With other agencies such as EPA and Interior, it pledges to assist in addressing environmental or water quality issues. For instance, the MOU with EPA pledges joint cooperation in assisting small water systems in meeting the arsenic rule. A MOU with the Department of Inter

Evidence: Rural Development has executed memoranda of understanding with HUD, DRA, ARC, EDA, EPA, and IHS.

YES 11%

Does the program use strong financial management practices?

Explanation: Program accounting system requirements and audit or other management reporting by borrowers have been in place for a number of years and are effective. The program is rated a low risk for the Management Control Reviews and for erroneous payments. Unliquidated obligations are reviewed quarterly with states to ensure that funds are effectively utilized.

Evidence: "Management Control Reviews document the strong financial practices used in administering the program. Erroneous payments report documents the oversight measures to monitor funds. Please ciet the RD financial audit. For this to be cited the audit must be clean with no material weaknesses. "

YES 11%

Has the program taken meaningful steps to address its management deficiencies?

Explanation: "Management deficiencies are identified through several internal and external reviews:MCR - Management Control Review conducted periodically to review policies and procedures; SIR - State Internal Reviews examine policy implementation and procedures; Program Reviews examine state operations and program delivery; OIG and GAO reviews. For each deficiency revealed through a review, a corrective action is developed and an implementation schedule established. Implementation is tracked and follow up action taken to ensure correction of deficiency. Example - Wyoming Program Review 2005: Finding - Disbursement of funds not being properly monitored. Recommendation - Loan specialists reviewing engineering invoices should be provided training on the necessary breakdown of charges and supporting documentation to track invoices against the agreement. This information should also be distributed to consulting engineers working with the Rural Development programs. Corrective Action - Training for loan specialists has been"

Evidence: "MCR, SIR and Program Review reports document results of review, recommendations and corrective actions. "

YES 11%

Is the program managed on an ongoing basis to assure credit quality remains sound, collections and disbursements are timely, and reporting requirements are fulfilled?

Explanation: The program's financial performance is monitored on an ongoing basis at the State and National Offices to ensure that funds are being obligated and disbursed appropriately, collections are made timely and management reports are being received as required. Obligations are updated overnight and tracked weekly and collections are enhanced through preauthorized debit of borrower bank accounts (59% of borrowers). Re-estimates on the loan programs are performed annually, which allows RUS to project the risk of offering this type of credit in the future.

Evidence: Guidance in 7 CFR 1780. The Federal Credit Supplement provides subsidy rates, obligations and commitments, and average loan size for direct loans and loan guarantees programs.

YES 11%

Do the program's credit models adequately provide reliable, consistent, accurate and transparent estimates of costs and the risk to the Government?

Explanation: "The Agency monitors key cohort elements on an ongoing basis and makes adjustments annually according to established procedures. The major elements are delinquencies, losses, lending rates, disbursements and collections. An annual subsidy rate is calculated using an audited cash flow model. This computes the risk of the loan program for the Federal government. The current 5 year average (99-03) subsidy rate is 11.09% and current re-estimated subsidy rate is 9.97% for the same period Most of the difference was due to interest rate variations (-0.88%) with only -0.24% due to technical assumptions. The major elements that contribute to the assumptions have held constant from 2002 to 2005. The borrower interest rates have ranged from 4.73% to 4.64% and the lifetime defaults as a percentage of disbursements range from 3.31% to 3.14%. Recoveries as a percentage of lifetime defaults ranged from 97.9% to 99.9%. "

Evidence: Guidance in 7 CFR 1780; delinquency reports. The Federal Credit Supplement.

YES 11%
Section 3 - Program Management Score 100%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability
Number Question Answer Score

Has the program demonstrated adequate progress in achieving its long-term performance goals?

Explanation: " Based on historic data for the past 3 years, projects that reduced exposure to water related health and safety hazards served a population of 5.5 million or about 9.3% of the rural population. The population served and the annual rate towards the goal has been: 2002 - 1.5 million population served - 2.5% 2003 - 2.2 million population served - 3.7% 2004 - 1.8 million population served - 3.1% To meet the long-term goal, we must serve 2.95 million people annually over the 5 year period of FY 2006 through 2010. Currently we are 62% towards meeting our goal's annual rate of population served. "

Evidence: "Rural Development Quarterly Performance Report WEP Annual Activity Report EPA's data on non-compliant system Community Programs Application Processing System Version 4.0 "


Does the program (including program partners) achieve its annual performance goals?

Explanation: "The agency continues to make progress in meeting its annual performance goals: Annual measure 1 - Increase the funding participation in projects from non-USDA sources. The amount of leveraged funds has steadily increased from 21.5% in 2002 to 27.3% in 2004. We expect to reach 28% in 2005 and 29% in 2006. Increased leveraged funds supports the agency's long-term goal of providing service to rural residents. Annual measure 2 - Increase the number of applicants that are referred to commercial credit sources. The target for 2006 is 6% of applicants. Borrowers that maintain strong financial ratios are more likely to access commercial credit, thus supporting both of the agency's long-term goals that more people are served and systems will be sustainable. Annual measure 3 - Provide new or improved service to rural residents. The agency has effectively implemented and exceeded the target. In FY 2004 the target was 650,000 but the agency achieved 965,780 subscribers. This goal directly supports the long-term "

Evidence: "Data has been published in the: USDA FY 2004 Performance and Accountability Report, 2003 Rural Utilities Service Annual Report, WEP Annual Activity Report for Fiscal Years 2002, 2003, and 2004. ""Large Extent"" is given because some the measures lack prior year targets and actuals. "


Does the program demonstrate improved efficiencies or cost effectiveness in achieving program goals each year?

Explanation: Financial assistance is provided by long-term loans and grants with a maximum grant of 75 percent of project costs. In FY 2002, the loan to grant split was 56/44 percent. In FY 2004 the ratio was improved to 63/37 percent. Midway through FY 2005 the ratio improved further to 66/33 percent. FY 2005 loan and grant funds were allocated to the state directors with an ambitious ratio of 75/25 percent. To help reach the goal RUS has implemented a new underwriting program to evaluate the need for long-term financing and grants. Early indications are that the automated underwriting program and application processing system have increased use of loan funds and reduced the time to process applications by 10 percent.

Evidence: "The WEP Annual Activity Reports for Fiscal Years 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 provide data for loan to grant percentages. Additionally, the reports summarize average loan and grant amounts that are generated from data in the management information system. The WEP program regulations at 7 CFR 1780 limit grant amounts as well as other Federal credit program rules and laws."

YES 20%

Does the performance of this program compare favorably to other programs, including government, private, etc., with similar purpose and goals?

Explanation: In 2003, OMB developed common performance measures for federal programs involved in the construction and financing of rural water systems. The agency's rural water program was measured against EPA, Indian Health Service, and the Bureau of Reclamation. Of the four categories, the agency's rural water program compared favorably with other programs with the best score in three categories and the second best score in one category.

Evidence: "GAO report discussing the patchwork of programs that serve the needs for rural water infrastructure. OMB's 2003 Common Measure for rural water."

YES 20%

Do independent evaluations of sufficient scope and quality indicate that the program is effective and achieving results?

Explanation: The National Rural Water Association, GAO and independent groups have all assessed the program and concluded that it serves a vital purpose by meeting the needs of targeted low-income communities that would otherwise have limited access to financing for water and waste disposal systems.

Evidence: "Grassroots Environmental Protection, 2002 Report to Congress," National Rural Water Association, 2002. "USDA's Approach to Funding Water and Sewer Projects," GAO, September 1995, GAO/RCED-95-258. Water and Wastewater Systems in Rural Low-income Communities: An Analysis of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service's Water and Environmental Program's Loan and Grant Program for Fiscal Years 1995 to 2000, by Robert A. Rapoza Associates, January 2001.

YES 20%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability Score 87%

Last updated: 09062008.2005SPR