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Detailed Information on the
U. S.-Mexico Border Water Infrastructure Assessment

Program Code 10002282
Program Title U. S.-Mexico Border Water Infrastructure
Department Name Environmental Protection Agy
Agency/Bureau Name Environmental Protection Agency
Program Type(s) Block/Formula Grant
Assessment Year 2004
Assessment Rating Adequate
Assessment Section Scores
Section Score
Program Purpose & Design 100%
Strategic Planning 62%
Program Management 89%
Program Results/Accountability 20%
Program Funding Level
(in millions)
FY2007 $49
FY2008 $20
FY2009 $10

Ongoing Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments
2007

Implement a new program requirement that detailed project schedules be included in future subgrant agreements.

Action taken, but not completed
2007

Implement program management controls that expedite project completions.

Action taken, but not completed

Completed Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments
2005

Develop baselines and targets for its long-term and efficiency measures.

Completed Long-term measure #1: Baseline - 17 currently exceeded water quality standards for 10 transboundary segments of U.S. surface waters (2002); Target - 50%. Measure #2: Baseline - 98,515 homes lacked access to safe drinking water (2003); Target - 25% (24,629). Measure#3: Baseline: 690,723 homes lacked access to wastewater sanitation (2003); Target - 25% (172,681) Efficiency measure: Baseline - 2300 people served (2005); Target - 2300 people served.
2005

Follow-up on the results of the business process review to help EPA implement program changes that could improve effectivess.

Completed The business process review was focused on the BECC and NADBank practices. EPA will encourage them to follow the recommendations contained in the report.

Program Performance Measures

Term Type  
Long-term Outcome

Measure: Reduce the number of currently exceeded water quality standards in impaired transboundary segments of US surface waters.


Explanation:For purposes of defining a baseline, the list of "water quality standards" is limited to those twelve parameters identified in the 2006 EPA report entitled "Development of Water Quality Analyses for the Shared Waters of the United States and Mexico." A "currently exceeded water quality standard" is any one of those twelve parameters that has also been identified in a State's Clean Water Act 305(b) report as the reason a surface water has not achieved its designated use. "Transboundary segments of U.S. surface waters" are those water segments listed on the 305(b) report that reach the border. Using these definitions, the following 2002 baseline was developed: 17 water quality exceedances in 10 transboundary segments of U.S. surface waters. Note: The program plans to revise the measure and will propose a new measure in the Fall update.

Year Target Actual
2002 Baseline 17 water qual exceed
2012 >50% Baseline
Long-term Outcome

Measure: By 2012, provide safe drinking water to 25% of homes in the U.S. Mexico Border area that lacked access to safe drinking water in 2003.


Explanation:Program success is measured in part by an increase in the number of households that are provided access to safe drinking water through first-time household connections or treatment improvements that address primary drinking water quality standards violations. The long-term (by 2012) outcome goal for the program is to provide safe drinking water to 25 percent of homes in the U.S.-Mexico border region that lacked access to drinking water in 2003. USEPA and the National Water Commission of Mexico (CONAGUA) established a year 2003 baseline of 98,515 households that lacked safe drinking water service, and a goal of 24,629 additional homes (25% of 2003 actual) that would receive safe drinking water by 2012. 2003 Baseline: 98,515 households lacked safe drinking water in the U.S.-Mexico border region.

Year Target Actual
2003 Baseline 98,515
2012 24,629
Long-term Outcome

Measure: By 2012, provide adequate wastewater sanitation to 25% of homes in the U.S. Mexico Border area that lacked access to wastewater sanitation in 2003.


Explanation:Program success is measured in part by an increase in the number of households that are provided access to adequate wastewater sanitation service through first-time household wastewater connections. The long-term (by 2012) outcome goal for the program is to provide wastewater service to 25 percent of homes in the U.S.-Mexico border region that lacked access to wastewater service in 2003. USEPA and CONAGUA established a year 2003 baseline of 690,723 households that lacked basic wastewater service, and a goal of 172,681 additional homes that would receive adequate wastewater service by 2012. 2003 Baseline: 690,723 households lacked adequate wastewater sanitation services in the U.S.-Mexico border region.

Year Target Actual
2003 Baseline 690,723
2012 172,681
Annual Outcome

Measure: Number of additional homes provided adequate safe drinking water in the Mexico Border area that lacked access to drinking water in 2003.


Explanation:Program success is measured in part by an increase in the number of homes that are provided access to safe drinking water through first-time household connections or treatment improvements that address primary drinking water quality standards violations. The annual target is based on projected project completions that year for multi-year projects that are initiated a number of years in advance of project completions. In 2006, EPA and the National Water Commission of Mexico (CONAGUA) established a 2003 baseline of 98,515 homes that lacked safe drinking water service. When considered cumulatively, this annual output measure supports attainment of the long-term outcome measure that is aligned with Border 2012. The goal of the long-term outcome measure is to provide, by 2012, drinking water service to 25% of those homes that lacked safe drinking water in 2003 (24,629 homes). The number of homes that lacked access to safe drinking water in 2003 (98,515) was considerably less than the baseline of homes that lacked access to adequate wastewater sanitation services in 2003 (690,723). This difference is reflected in the number of applications that the program receives; EPA receives fewer applications for drinking water projects than it receives for wastewater projects. Fewer drinking water projects funded results in annual targets and actuals for this measure that are less than the annual targets and actuals for the wastewater connections measure. 2003 Baseline: 98,515 homes lacked safe drinking water in the U.S.-Mexico border region.

Year Target Actual
2003 Baseline 98,515
2006 increase by 2,500 22,458
2007 increase by 1,200 1,276
2008 increase by 2,500
2009 increase by 1,500
2010 TBD
Annual Outcome

Measure: Number of additional homes provided adequate wastewater sanitation in the Mexico Border area that lacked access to wastewater sanitation in 2003.


Explanation:Program success is measured in part by an increase in the number of homes that are provided access to adequate wastewater sanitation service through first-time household wastewater connections. The annual target is based on projected project completions for that year for multi-year projects that are initiated a number of years in advance of project completions. In 2006, EPA and the National Water Commission of Mexico (CONAGUA) established a 2003 baseline of 690,723 homes that lacked basic wastewater sanitation service. When considered cumulatively, this annual output measure supports attainment of the long-term outcome measure that is aligned with Border 2012. The goal of the long-term outcome measure is to provide, by 2012, wastewater service to 25% of those homes that lacked access to wastewater service in 2003 (172,681 homes). The number of homes that lacked access to adequate wastewater sanitation service in 2003 (690,723) was considerably greater than the baseline of homes that lacked access to safe drinking water service in 2003 (98,515). This difference is reflected in the number of applications that the program receives; EPA receives more applications for wastewater projects than it does for drinking water projects. More wastewater projects funded results in annual targets and actuals for this measure that are greater than the annual targets and actuals for the drinking water connections measure. 2003 Baseline: 690,723 households lacked adequate wastewater sanitation services in the U.S.-Mexico border region.

Year Target Actual
2003 Baseline 690,723
2006 increase by 15,000 30,195
2007 increase by 70,750 73,475
2008 increase by 15,000
2009 increase by 105,500
2010 TBD
Long-term Efficiency

Measure: Additional people served per million dollars (US and Mexico).


Explanation:The program plans to revise the measure and will propose a new measure in the Fall update.

Year Target Actual
2005 Baseline 3,278
2006 3,200 4,433
2007 3,200 10,292
2008 8,000
2009 9,000

Questions/Answers (Detailed Assessment)

Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design
Number Question Answer Score
1.1

Is the program purpose clear?

Explanation: The program purpose is stated succinctly and without multiple conflicting purposes in the annual appropriation language.

Evidence: The authorizing language is, as it has been since 1996, in the EPA appropriation under the section entitled State and Tribal Assistance Grants. It says: "[amount] shall be for architectural, engineering, planning, design, construction and related activities in connection with the construction of high priority water and wastewater facilities in the area of the United States-Mexico border, after consultation with the appropriate border commission;"

YES 20%
1.2

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

Explanation: The program's purpose is to serve the border area population with drinking water, wastewater collection, and wastewater treatment services. On the Mexican side alone, at least 25 percent of the year 2000 population is unserved by wastewater collection and treatment.

Evidence: Unserved population data from BXXI Progress Report. Health effects table.

YES 20%
1.3

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

Explanation: The program was designed to deal with the U.S.-Mexico border area water infrastructure needs as stated in the EPA appropriation language. That is, it provides financial and technical assistance for facilities that have an impact on the quality of binational waters. The only other U.S. and Mexican agencies that have jurisdiction are the U.S. and Mexican sections of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC). However, both federal governments have provided the water infrastructure grants to EPA and its Mexican counterpart, the Secretariat for Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT). No other organizations with borderwide jurisdiction exist. These two agencies coordinate with the IBWC and when appropriate have utilized that Commission as a project manager. An IBWC Minute was created to record the binational joint funding agreement.

Evidence: LA Paz Agreement, Appropriations history, IBWC Minute 304.

YES 20%
1.4

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

Explanation: Since November 1993, when a supplemental agreement to the North American Free Trade Agreement created two binational organizations to implement border water infrastrucure, EPA and SEMARNAT have formed a team and directed resources to make those organizations the focus of infrastructure development. One, the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC), is responsible for project development and with EPA resources and technical assistance manages a binational project planning grant program modeled after the planning step of the old EPA domestic construction grants program. The other, the North American Development Bank (NADBank), provides financial advice and funding package assistance for projects certified by the BECC as suitable for construction. EPA and SEMARNAT provide funding for the grant portion of these funding packages and the NADBank organizes the debt component. The Departments of State and Treasury worked in cooperation with EPA in the creation of these two organizations.

Evidence: NAFTA supplemental agreement, PDAP and BEIF agreements with EPA.

YES 20%
1.5

Is the program effectively targeted, so that resources will reach intended beneficiaries and/or otherwise address the program's purpose directly?

Explanation: BECC projects managers go into the served border-area U.S. and Mexican communities to assist in starting the communites needs evaluation and demonstration process, taking EPA, SEMARNAT and NADBank specialists with them where necessary. EPA and SEMARNAT perform the NEPA, or NEPA-like in Mexico, review of the proposed alternatives and recommended alternative for suitability. Cost-effectiveness of alternativies is addressed in preparation of certification applications. Both EPA and SEMARNAT have developed affordability guidelines which establish what the minimum community participation must be before outside assistance would be considered.

Evidence: EPA affordability guidelines for Mexico Border

YES 20%
Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design Score 100%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning
Number Question Answer Score
2.1

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: The program has a long-term performance measure that focuses on the outcome of improved water quality from wastewater treatment. During the upcoming year, the program should focus on developing a long-term, health-based performance measure that assesses progress related to drinking water.

Evidence: See measures tab.

YES 12%
2.2

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

Explanation: Baselines are under development.

Evidence: See measures tab.

NO 0%
2.3

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: The program's current annual measure tracks the increase in homes connected to potable water supply and wastewater collection treatment systems. However, over the next year, EPA should work to develop measures that track compliance with NPDES and drinking water standards. The program also has an annual output efficiency measure that tracks the additional people served per million dollars.

Evidence: See measures tab.

YES 12%
2.4

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

Explanation: Baselines and targets are under development.

Evidence: See measures tab.

NO 0%
2.5

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: All partners have committed to and are working toward the annual and long term goals, as evidenced by the Border 2012 agreement between EPA, SEMARNAT, and border states and tribes.

Evidence: Border 2012

YES 12%
2.6

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: While the BECC and the NADBank are curently undergoing a Business Process Review performed by an independent contractor, this review does not appear to address the program's outcomes. However, the review does appear to exmaine other important aspects of the program, such as duplication of effort and efficiencies, and should be helpful in making beneficial changes.

Evidence: Outline of the Business Process Review.

NO 0%
2.7

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: The Agency estimates and budgets for the full annual costs of operating its programs, taking into consideration any changes in funding, policy and legislative changes. All spending categories and the resource levels and activities associated with them are included in the annual Congressional Justification. Performance data are considered at every step in EPA's planning and budgeting process (i.e. developing the OMB submission, Congressional Justification, and annual Operating Plan and reporting our results in the Annual Report). EPA managers use up-to-date financial, policy, and regulatory information to make decisions on program management and performance. The Agency's financial information is integrated with performance and other program data to support day-to-day decision making of managers and executives.

Evidence: Annual Congressional Justification, Budget Automation System (BAS) reports. (EPA was selected as a government-wide finalist for the 2002 President's Quality Award in the area of budget and performance integration.)

YES 12%
2.8

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

Explanation: The program takes meaningful steps to correct strategic planning deficiencies. For example, as the Business Process Review mentioned in question 2.6 is completed, EPA and the Department of the Treasury stand ready to assist in implementation of any recommendations that improve program operations and/or efficiencies. Also, a prioritization scheme is being developed by the BECC, NADBank and both governments now that project volume has begun to exceed available resources.

Evidence: Draft prioritization proposal Outline of the Business Process Review

YES 12%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning Score 62%
Section 3 - Program Management
Number Question Answer Score
3.1

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: EPA regularly collects timely and credible performance information and uses it to manage the program and improve performance. As mentioned in question 2.5, the partners meet at least quarterly to disseminate, review and react to a series of detailed management reports covering the financial and construction status of every project, from the start of consideration to when it's operational.

Evidence: US-Mexico Border Infrastructure Coordinating Committee status reports

YES 11%
3.2

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: The federal managers and program partners are held accountable for cost, schedule and performance results as reported at the quarterly joint staff and management meetings mentioned in question 3.1. Examples of the types of issues that may be aired are the schedule of projects being prepared for certification, the certification schedule, construction start schedule, construction completion and facility start-up, status of funds availability, delays in any of the foregoing, policy issues that impact program objectives or schedules. Each session closes with agreement on a series of action items with timelines. Additionally, the Office Director's performance standards include grants management activities specified in the personnel evaluation.

Evidence: US-Mexico Border Infrastructure Coordinating Committee status reports EPA Office Director performance standards

YES 11%
3.3

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

Explanation: Evaulations have found some delays in fund obligation, as well as minor problems with improper awards.

Evidence: EPA BECC/PDAP program evaluation reports

NO 0%
3.4

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: The program has procedures to achieve efficiencies and cost effectiveness. Both the NADBank and BECC criteria include competitive sourcing and least-cost solutions provisions. Project planning commissioned by the BECC is performed by consulting engineers competitively procured under Brooks Bill procedures. If project scope, appropriateness, technology or other factors that produce a project that is outside the norm of cost per capita efficiencies, the work is given additional review and revisions may be called for. Detailed design and construction are procured by the NADBank under Brooks Bill and open competiitive procedures.

Evidence: BECC and NADBank operating procedures.

YES 11%
3.5

Does the program collaborate and coordinate effectively with related programs?

Explanation: Where financial, technical or other resources are available, EPA has collaborated and coordinated with related programs. An example is where the project deal sheets include EPA State Revolving Fund participation in the U.S.-side projects from State resources. Another is specifically where the State of Texas funds and participates in technical oversight of the detailed design of border area projects within its jurisdiction. Projects in the Mexican side of the border area are, as previously pointed out, cost-shared with EPA and the other partners. Finally, the first project accomplished by the Border Program, the international wastewater treatment plant at San Diego/Tijuana, was completed by EPA, the IBWC, the State of California and the City of San Diego. The IBWC and City acted as project managers on various components of the projects, based on their particular expertise.

Evidence: Sample deal sheet, BECC record showing Texas SWRB participation, IWTP construction management team organization documentation, US-Mexico Border Infrastructure Coordinating Committee status reports.

YES 11%
3.6

Does the program use strong financial management practices?

Explanation: The program follows EPA's financial management guidelines for committing obligating, reprogramming, and reconciling appropriated funds. Agency officials have a system of controls and accountability, based on GAO and other principles, to ensure that improper payments are not made. At each step in the process, the propriety of the payment is reviewed. EPA trains individuals to ensure that they understand their roles and responsibilities for invoice review and for carrying out the financial aspect of program objectives. EPA received an unqualified audit opinion on its FY02 financial statements and had no materials weaknesses associated with the audit. EPA is taking steps to meet the new accelerated due dates for financial statements.

Evidence: Annual Congressional Justification, Budget Automation System (BAS) reports, unqualified audit opinion on EPA FY02 financial statements, Fiscal Year 2002 Advice of Allowance Letter, 2002 Integrity Act Report, resource policies at: http://intrasearch.epa.gov/ocfo/policies

YES 11%
3.7

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

Explanation: The program has a functioning system to address management deficiencies. As described in question 3.2, the federal managers and program partners are held accountable for cost, schedule and performance results as reported at the quarterly joint staff and management meetings mentioned in question 3.1. Examples of the types of issues that may be aired are the schedule of projects being prepared for certification, the certification schedule, construction start schedule, construction completion and facility start-up, status of funds availability, delays in any of the foregoing, policy issues that impact program objectives or schedules. Each session closes with agreement on a series of action items with timelines. A major action in this regard is the Business Process Review now being completed by an independent contractor for the BECC and NADBank.

Evidence: Business Process Review outline.

YES 11%
3.B1

Does the program have oversight practices that provide sufficient knowledge of grantee activities?

Explanation: The UIC Program, under the authority of Section 1422 of SDWA and codified at 40 CFR part 144.8, requires grantees to submit information on the various activities they have undertaken over that year. In addition, Regions collect and review annual reports and conduct annual performance reviews of primacy state programs

Evidence: Examples of Regional Reviews.Performance Evaluation Reports (PERs).7520 Federal Report form.

YES 11%
3.B2

Does the program collect grantee performance data on an annual basis and make it available to the public in a transparent and meaningful manner?

Explanation: The annual performance information for the UIC program is available to the public through the GPRA reporting process, Envirofacts and Agency enforcement compliance reporting.

Evidence: GPRA reports; Envirofacts (www.epa.gov/enviro); Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) Compliance Reports; EPA Regional Office Web-sites.

YES 11%
Section 3 - Program Management Score 89%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability
Number Question Answer Score
4.1

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

Explanation: The baselines and targets for the LT measure are under development, so progress has not yet been assessed.

Evidence:  

NO 0%
4.2

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

Explanation: EPA has demonstrated progress toward the annual goal it will use through FY 2005.

Evidence: See measures tab.

SMALL EXTENT 7%
4.3

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

Explanation: The program has agreed to a new efficiency measure and is in the process of developing a baseline and targets.

Evidence:  

NO 0%
4.4

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

Explanation: While there are no other binational water infrastructure grant programs, the performance of this program compares favorably with other EPA specialized water infrastructure grant programs, such as Alaska Native Villages and the Indian Set-Asides in the SRFs. This program has developed a long-term, outcome-based goal for the program that will allow the program to clearly demonstrate its impact on the environment. It also regularly collects and evaluates data that affect program performance.

Evidence: Status reports, BECC and NADBank Coordinating Committee meeting summaries.

LARGE EXTENT 13%
4.5

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

Explanation: No independent evaulations have been conducted for this program. However, the program is currently undergoing a Business Process Review which may be helpful in determining the program's effectiveness.

Evidence:  

NO 0%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability Score 20%


Last updated: 09062008.2004SPR