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Detailed Information on the
Social Services Block Grant Assessment

Program Code 10003503
Program Title Social Services Block Grant
Department Name Dept of Health & Human Service
Agency/Bureau Name Administration for Children and Families
Program Type(s) Block/Formula Grant
Assessment Year 2005
Assessment Rating Results Not Demonstrated
Assessment Section Scores
Section Score
Program Purpose & Design 40%
Strategic Planning 12%
Program Management 56%
Program Results/Accountability 7%
Program Funding Level
(in millions)
FY2007 $1,700
FY2008 $1,700
FY2009 $940

Ongoing Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments
2006

Implementing a new efficiency measure to decrease administrative costs as a percent of total costs.

Action taken, but not completed Milestone: Review and analyze data from annual postexpenditure reports submitted by states. Milestone to be completed August 2008.
2006

Developing long-term and annual performance measures.

Action taken, but not completed Milestone: Create new measure proposal.

Completed Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

Program Performance Measures

Term Type  
Annual Efficiency

Measure: This measure identifies the sum effort of all States to reduce administrative costs in order to assure that SSBG funds, to as great an extent as possible, social services for children and adults. (Measure added, February 2007)


Explanation:

Year Target Actual
2004 Baseline 10%
2005 NA 7%
2006 NA 5%
2007 9% Oct-08
2008 9% Oct-09
2009 9% Oct-10
2010 9% Oct-11

Questions/Answers (Detailed Assessment)

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

Is the program purpose clear?

Explanation: The purpose of the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) is to increase state flexibility in using social service grants, and to assist States with the provision of social services in five broad areas: (1) achieving economic self-support; (2) achieving self-sufficiency; (3) preventing or remedying neglect, abuse, or the exploitation of children and adults and reuniting families; (4) preventing or reducing inappropriate institutionalization; and (5) securing referral for institutional care, where appropriate.

Evidence: The goals and purpose of the SSBG program may be found in Title XX, Section 2001 of the Social Security Act, as amended [42 U.S.C. 1397].

YES 20%
1.2

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

Explanation: SSBG's statutory goals represent persistent societal problems and needs: ?? Achieve economic self-sufficiency: In 2001, 3.1 percent of the US population received more than half of their total family income from TANF, food stamps and SSI. In 2002, 14.2 percent of individuals lived in families with no member in the labor force during the year. Another 14.7 percent lived in families without a full-time year-round worker; ?? Prevent or remedy neglect or abuse, and reunite families: In 2003, an estimated 906,000 children were victims of child abuse or neglect; ?? Prevent or reduce inappropriate institutionalization, or secure referral for institutional care, where appropriate: There are on-going needs for a variety of social services. For example, in 2002, 6.3 million persons aged 12 or older needed but did not receive treatment for an illicit drug problem and 17 million persons needed but did not receive treatment for an alcohol problem. An estimated 22 percent of Americans ages 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.

Evidence: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Work Experience of the Population Summary, www.bls.gov/news.release/work.nr0.htm. U.S. DHHS, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Indicators of Welfare Dependence Annual Report to Congress 2004. U.S. DHHS, Administration on Children, Youth, and Families. Child Maltreatment 2003. (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2005). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Highlights of Recent Reports on Substance Abuse and Mental Health, www.drugabusestatistics.samhsa.gov/highlights.htm#2k4Pubs. National Institute of Mental Health. Statistics, www.nimh.nih.gov/Healthinformation/statisticsmenu.cfm.

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: Many other Federal programs provide funding for services and are aimed at goals similar to SSBG, including the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), Older Americans Act (OAA), Promoting Safe and Stable Families, Foster Care, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the Community Services Block Grant. OAA's Home and Community-Based Supportive Services and TANF similarly allow states significant flexibility to set funding priorities. Other programs, such as CCDF and Foster Care, provide funding for a particular purpose and activity that substantially overlaps with SSBG-funded activities. SSBG funds are frequently merged with other Federal, state and local funding streams such that the activities funded by SSBG are indistinguishable from those funded by other sources. Sometimes, States use SSBG funds to fill gaps in services beyond what is supported by other Federal and state funds, or to serve ineligible populations or pay for activities that are not allowable under other programs.

Evidence: 2003 Social Services Block Grant Program Annual Report, Table F-4, Proportion of SSBG and Other Support for Services.

NO 0%
1.4

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

Explanation: SSBG provides maximum flexibility to States to direct their Federal grant to purposes and activities most tailored to the States needs. The program imposes minimal reporting burden on grantees. However, SSBG lacks accountability measures to ensure that the States direct the funds towards activities that achieve results.

Evidence: The goals and purpose of the SSBG program may be found in title XX of the Social Security Act, as amended [42 U.S.C. 1397 et seq.].

NO 0%
1.5

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

Explanation: SSBG contains measures to ensure that States serve the intended beneficiaries. States are required to identify the categories of individuals to be served in the State plan, which is reviewed by HHS. At the end of the year, States report the amount of funds directed toward each service and the number of recipients served. However, SSBG funds are not protected against supplantation. States may transfer up to 10 percent of their Temporary Assistance for Needy Families grant into SSBG which has more flexible funding rules and could allow a State to supplant State spending with Federal TANF funds.

Evidence: The SSBG program provides guidance to States to report on the intended use of SSBG funds. This guidance can be found under title XX of the Social Security Act, as amended [42 U.S.C. 1397]. Division F, Title II of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005 (PL 108-447) allows States to transfer up to 10 percent of their TANF grant to SSBG.

NO 0%
Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design Score 40%
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: HHS is exploring the possibility of creating long-term performance measures. These measures may rely on States setting State-specific goals against which their performance would be measured. Previously, SSBG had nationwide program goals for maintaining or increasing the number of recipients of several service categories??child day care, home-based services, special services for individuals with disabilities, child protective services, and information and referral services. However, these performance measures have been discontinued because they inadequately reflect the extent to which States establish program priorities.

Evidence: FY 2006 Congressional Justification - Supplementary Performance Information.

NO 0%
2.2

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

Explanation: See question 2.1.

Evidence:  

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: HHS is exploring the possibility of creating annual performance measures. As with the long-term goals under consideration, annual performance measures may be based on States setting State-specific goals against which their performance would be measured.

Evidence:  

NO 0%
2.4

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

Explanation: See question 2.3.

Evidence:  

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: SSBG does not have annual or long-term performance measures. HHS is exploring the possibility of creating long-term performance measures that may rely on States setting State-specific goals against which their performance would be measured.

Evidence:  

NO 0%
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: Evaluations of SSBG-funded activities and programs may occur incidentally in some States for some programs as part of studies conducted for other Federal or state programs. However, HHS does not have evidence that these evaluations are of sufficient scope to provide a comprehensive view of the effectiveness of all or most of the activities funded by SSBG.

Evidence:  

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: SSBG does not have an integrated budget and performance presentation that directly links SSBG funding to the achievement of program-specific, agency or Department level goals. SSBG does not report all direct and indirect costs needed to attain performance results.

Evidence: ACF Strategic Goals and Objectives. HHS Strategic Goals and Objectives FY 2004-2008 Strategic Plan. ACF Congressional Justification, pp. M18-M21.

NO 0%
2.8

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

Explanation: HHS is exploring the possibility of establishing annual and long-term performance measures. In recent years, the agency has significantly improved the quality of State administrative data, which ultimately can facilitate program planning at the State and Federal levels.

Evidence: 2003 Social Services Block Grant Program Annual Report.

YES 12%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning Score 12%
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: HHS collects and validates program and participant data from the States on an annual basis. However, the program lacks a national system or performance measures against which program performance can be measured and improvements can be sought. Some states evaluate their own program performance and produce annual reports on their achievements, including goals, objectives and performance measures. However, HHS does not have evidence that demonstrates that such efforts occur in the majority of grantees or for the majority of program funding.

Evidence: SSBG Annual Report 2003. Virginia Department of Social Services Child and Family Services Plan. Connecticut Department of Social Services Annual Report.

NO 0%
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 SSBG Federal manager does not have clearly defined or quantifiable performance standards. Furthermore, there are no measures within SSBG for holding States accountable for achieving performance results. SSBG funds are often merged with funding in other Federal, state or local programs, and may be subject to accountability measures under those other programs. For example, in 2003, HHS estimates that States spent as much as 50 percent of their SSBG funds on child welfare services. Under Titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act, child welfare services, whether funded by IV-B, IV-E or other sources (including SSBG) must be provided in accordance with Federal child welfare regulations, which include a results-oriented approach to federal monitoring. However, there is no evidence that all or most of SSBG funds are subject to accountability measures in other programs. States are responsible for monitoring sub-grantees, but they are not required to hold them accountable for achieving performance results.

Evidence: Federal manager's Employee Performance Management Plan and Rating; 2003 Social Services Block Grant Program Annual Report; 45 CFR Parts 1355, 1356 and 1357, Title IV -E Foster Care Eligibility Reviews and Child and Family Services State Plan Reviews; Final Rule; CFSR reports for all States are available at: www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/cwrp/staterpt/index.htm. Scarcella, C.A., Bess, R., Zielewski, E.H., Warner, L., Geen, R. (2004). "The cost of protecting vulnerable children IV: How child welfare funding fared during the recession." (Washington, DC: The Urban Institute). www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/411115_VulnerableChildrenIV.pdf In accordance with OMB Circular A-133 States are responsible for monitoring sub-grantees.

NO 0%
3.3

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

Explanation: States obligate SSBG funds in a timely manner, consistent with the overall SSBG program plan. SSBG funds are spent for their intended purpose. State postexpenditure reports are required to describe the extent to which they spent their funds in a manner consistent with their preexpenditure report. HHS reviews States' postexpenditure reports to determine whether they are consistent with the plan laid out in the States preexpenditure reports.

Evidence: 2003 SSBG Annual Report.

YES 11%
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: While SSBG has improved the efficiency of the Federal administration of the program, the program does not have efficiency or cost effectiveness tools for the SSBG grants to States. SSBG has neither regular procedures in place to achieve efficiencies and cost effectiveness nor efficiency or cost effectiveness measures that capture improvements in program outcomes or outputs for a given level of resources.

Evidence:  

NO 0%
3.5

Does the program collaborate and coordinate effectively with related programs?

Explanation: At the State level, SSBG funds are frequently coordinated with programs funded by other Federal, State, and local sources. SSBG funds are often used for programs not already supported by other Federal, State, local, or private efforts, or for programs which do not receive sufficient funding.

Evidence: In Arizona, State-funded services for disabled adults serve individuals over age 60 and SSBG-funded services fund younger adults. In Delaware, individuals who qualify for Medicaid-funded skilled nursing services can use the Elderly and Disabled Home and Community-Based Waiver Program to obtain home-based services. SSBG funds are used to serve persons ineligible for the waiver. For example, SSBG funds services for clients requiring light house-keeping--not skilled nursing--to live independently.

YES 11%
3.6

Does the program use strong financial management practices?

Explanation: Each State must audit its SSBG expenditures (including TANF transfers) at least every two years, and submit a copy of the audit to the State legislature and to HHS. Each State must repay funds that have been used improperly or HHS may offset the amounts against future SSBG allotments. ACF managers are required to attest annually whether internal controls are in place and functioning as intended, as part of the Federal Managers Financial Integrity Act (FMFIA). If internal controls are not in place, managers are required to prepare an action plan and track progress until the issue has been resolved. Including four years in which ACF had a stand-alone audit and two years being audited as part of the HHS financial statement audit process, ACF has received six consecutive unqualified audit opinions.

Evidence: Audit regulations may be found in Title XX of the Social Security Act, as amended [42 U.S.C. 1397e]

YES 11%
3.7

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

Explanation: SSBG does not have a routine system for identifying and correcting program management deficiencies in a timely manner.

Evidence:  

NO 0%
3.BF1

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

Explanation: Each State is required to submit a pre-expenditure report each year describing how it intends to use the SSBG funds, the type of activities to be supported and the categories and characteristics of individuals to be served. The report is transmitted to HHS and made public within the State. The State is required to revise the report throughout the year as necessary to reflect substantial changes. After the end of the fiscal year, each State must submit a postexpenditure report, describing the activities actually carried out, and explaining the extent to which funds were spent in a manner consistent with the preexpenditure report.

Evidence: A copy of the post-expenditure reporting from can be found on the ACF website at www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/ocs/ssbg/docs/mema.htm; 2003 SSBG Annual Report.

YES 11%
3.BF2

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 States submit annual data to the Office of Community Services. Aggregate and state-level data are posted on a website and published in an Annual Report after being confirmed as accurate.

Evidence: 2003 SSBG Annual Report.

YES 11%
Section 3 - Program Management Score 56%
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: See question 2.1.

Evidence:  

NO 0%
4.2

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

Explanation: See question 2.3.

Evidence:  

NO 0%
4.3

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

Explanation: SSBG has neither regular procedures in place to achieve efficiencies and cost effectiveness nor efficiency or cost effectiveness measures that capture improvements in program outcomes or outputs for a given level of resources.

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: Compared to other federally funded programs with similar purposes and goals such as TANF and Home and Community-Based Supportive Services, SSBG provides more state flexibility and imposes fewer reporting burdens. States can more easily use SSBG funds to fill gaps in services than other federal funding streams. However, the program generally contains fewer accountability measures, such as performance measures and maintenance of effort spending requirements. As a result, it is less able to demonstrate program results than categorical programs and other block grant programs.

Evidence: Title IV-A of the Social Security Act describes state maintenance of effort and work requirements in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant. Titles IV-B and Title IV-E of the Social Security Act describe state requirements under the Foster and Promoting Safe and Stable Families Programs. Information on the Home and Community-Based Supportive Services can be found at: www.os.dhhs.gov/budget/06budget/aoa.htm.

SMALL EXTENT 7%
4.5

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

Explanation: Evaluations of SSBG-funded activities and programs may occur incidentally in some States for some programs as part of studies conducted for other Federal or state programs. However, HHS does not have evidence that these evaluations are of sufficient scope to provide a comprehensive view of the effectiveness of all or most of the activities funded by SSBG.

Evidence:  

NO 0%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability Score 7%


Last updated: 09062008.2005SPR