Detailed Information on the
Water Pollution Control Grants Assessment

Program Code 10004379
Program Title Water Pollution Control Grants
Department Name Environmental Protection Agy
Agency/Bureau Name Environmental Protection Agency
Program Type(s) Block/Formula Grant
Assessment Year 2005
Assessment Rating Adequate
Assessment Section Scores
Section Score
Program Purpose & Design 60%
Strategic Planning 75%
Program Management 89%
Program Results/Accountability 40%
Program Funding Level
(in millions)
FY2007 $222
FY2008 $218
FY2009 $222

Ongoing Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

Target additional program funding to States implementing probabilistic monitoring activities in support of the national probabilistic monitoring survey.

Action taken, but not completed EPA will ensure that program funds identified for monitoring activities are targeted to the states to support monitoring strategy implementation and probablistic monitoring surveys.

Provide incentives for States to implement or improve their permit fee programs, increasing the resources available for water quality programs.

Action taken, but not completed EPA is providng, through rulemaking, an incentive program for states to implement or improve their permit fee programs. The rule development process in underway and should be completed by December 2006.

Conduct scheduled periodic review of State allocation formula.

Action taken, but not completed

Completed Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

Require that State workplans and performance data are formatted and reported consistently and directly support specific goals in EPA's strategic plan.

Completed EPA's NPM's have integrated the template into their national program guidances and the template is part of the FY 07 workplans that will be negotiated with the states

Program Performance Measures

Term Type  
Annual Output

Measure: Number of TMDLs that are established by States and approved by EPA [State TMDLs] on schedule consistent with national policy (cumulative). A TMDL is a technical plan for reducing pollutants in order to attain water quality standards. The terms "approved" and "established" refer to the completion and approval of the TMDL.


Year Target Actual
2000 baseline 1,684
2004 10,022 10,097
2005 12,975 13,874
2006 15,428 17,682
2007 20,232 21,685
2008 28,527
2009 31,587
2010 34,647
Annual Output

Measure: Percentage of States and Territories that, within the preceding 3-year period, submitted new or revised water quality criteria acceptable to EPA that reflect new scientific information from EPA or other sources not considered in the previous standard.


Year Target Actual
2004 Baseline 70%
2005 62% 62%
2006 66% 66.1%
2007 67% 66.1%
2008 68%
2009 68%
2010 68%
Annual Output

Measure: Percentage of high priority state NPDES permits that are issued as scheduled.

Explanation:Each year States and Regions develop new lists of priority permits covering a 3 year period. (The baseline changes each year as permits are issued and additional permits expire.) From those lists, they designate a number of priority permits to be issued in the current fiscal year. If a State is able to issue permits designated for a future fiscal year ahead of schedule, they receive credit toward the current fiscal year target, which may result in an issuance rate of over 100% of the current target. It should be noted that the number of targeted priority permits has increased from 635 in 2005 to 830 in 2008.

Year Target Actual
2004 baseline 0%
2005 95% 104%
2006 95% 96.4%
2007 95% 112%
2008 95%
2009 95%
2010 95%
Long-term/Annual Outcome

Measure: Number of waterbody segments identified by States in 2002 as not attaining standards, where water quality standards are now fully attained.

Explanation:In order to capture other informative expressions of surface water protection, several measures of incremental restoration and of maintenance are being evaluated for future inclusion in the PART, in the context of our ongoing strategic planning.

Year Target Actual
2002 Baseline 0
2006 n/a 924
2007 1,166 1,409
2008 1,550
2009 1,660
2010 1,770
2012 2,250
Annual Efficiency

Measure: Cost per impaired water segment now fully attaining standards.

Explanation:Number of water segments restored divided by 106 dollars plus state match dollars.

Year Target Actual
2004 NA $1,544,998
2005 baseline $701,495
2006 $732,962 $589,455
2007 $615,694 $584,998
2008 $643,119
2009 $708,276
2010 $769,661
Annual Output

Measure: Percentage of majors in Significant Noncompliance (SNC) at any time during the fiscal year.

Explanation:The goal for this measure is to maintain or improve the baseline of 22.5% of major dischargers in Significant Noncompliance. Major NPDES permitted facilities are designated as being in Significant Noncompliance (SNC) when: reported effluent exceedances are 20% or more above permitted levels for toxic pollutants and/or 40% or more above permitted levels of conventional pollutants; on-site inspections determine non-effluent limit violations such as unauthorized bypasses, unpermitted discharges, and pass-through of pollutants which cause water quality or health problems; permit schedule violations; non-submission or late submission of permittee self-reported Discharge Monitoring Reports; and violation of a state or federal enforcement orders. The SNC rates are calculated on a three year rolling average. The rolling average method provides good data on overall long-term trends.

Year Target Actual
2004 Baseline 22.5%
2005 maintain/Improve bas 19.7%
2006 maintain/Improve bas 20.2%
2007 maintain/improve bas 22.6%
2008 maintain/improve bas
2009 maintain/improve bas
2010 maintain/improve bas

Questions/Answers (Detailed Assessment)

Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design
Number Question Answer Score

Is the program purpose clear?

Explanation: Congress authorized EPA through the 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA) to make grants to States to carry out their Water Quality Programs that support CWA regulations and policies. Congress directed EPA to administer the CWA and explicitly stated that states were the primary implementers of the Act. States, because of their proximity to environmental problems and the regulated community, are better able to ensure restoration and protection of water quality across the country. EPA must provide the grant funds to the states in accordance with regulations promulgated on the basis of the extent of the pollution problems in the respective states. Among the activities supported are water quality program planning, monitoring, standards development, permitting and enforcement/compliance.

Evidence: CWA Legislative History Clean Water Act Sections 101(a), 101(d), 104, 303, 305, 401, 402, 502 CWA Section 101(b), CWA Section 106 40CFR Part 35.160-168, 40CFR122 EPA Strategic Plan & FY 2006 National Water Program Guidance 106 Program White Paper

YES 20%

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

Explanation: Significant water pollution problems persist throughout the country despite the effective implementation of the Clean Water Act and the substantial economic and social benefits of reducing water pollution. Nationwide, States reported in 2000 that a total of about 21,000 waterbodies do not meet clean water goals and cannot be used for their designated uses (e.g swimming, fishing). Through 106, EPA provides assistance to states to: facilitate partnerships with the states to collaborate more effectively on water quality priorities; leverage the efficiency of state program implementation; provide resources for enforcement directly or through appropriate State law enforcement officers or agencies; and ensure a minimal level of state capacity and commitment to address national water quality goals and objectives.

Evidence: National Section 303(d) List Fact Sheet Clean Water Act Section 106 State Expenditure Dollars from 17 States 106 Program White Paper National Water Program Management White Paper 40CFR35

YES 20%

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

Explanation: Section 106 Grants are the only source of annual base funding the Agency provides for all 50 states for water quality programs to assist them in developing, planning and administering programs for the prevention, reduction and elimination of water pollution. Other special purpose funds for project specific activities are available but not every state receives funds from those programs. State 106 workplans provide EPA with a mechanism for ensuring that no duplication or redundancy of effort occurs. The 106 Grant Program is the "primary" source of federal funds for the implementation of components of the State Water Quality Programs.

Evidence: CWA Sections 101, 104, 106(e), 402 Five Example State Workplans SB 181 MOAs Colorado Water Quality Control

YES 20%

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

Explanation: Requiring all States to charge NPDES permit fees would allow EPA and States to provide additional resources for other critical Clean Water Act activities. Currently, 35 States charge NPDES permit fees. Instituting fairly structured nationwide permit fees would make CWA compliance more equitable for permittees, and, if instituted properly, would lead to an increase in CWA activities. In addition, a match requirement for the program would help ensure States continue to fund CWA activities, and could protect against reductions or substitutions in States' funding if they implement NPDES fees.


NO 0%

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

Explanation: EPA uses an annual allotment formula that distributes the 106 grant funds among States according to anticipated relative workload and extent of the pollution problem. The formula supports base programs by attempting to provide a consistent level of annual funding. State workplans incorporate commitments against annual activity and outcome measures, designed in partnership between EPA and states, reflecting the gamut of CWA water quality protection and restoration responsibilities and directly related to goals identified in the Agency's Strategic Plan. However, EPA is not properly targeting additional monitoring resources provided in FY 2005 to ensure that States will begin collecting probabalistic data to support national-level water quality determinations.


NO 0%
Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design Score 60%
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: The 106 program managers rely on one long-term outcome measure to assess program performance - progress in restoring impaired waters. This goal is stated as the objective of the Clean Water Act in section 101(a) and is part of EPA's Strategic Plan. Annual measures that track progress toward this goal are included in the EPA Strategic Plan and explained in Question 2.3.

Evidence: FY '05 National Water Program Guidance Clean Water Act EPA's Strategic Plan

YES 12%

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

Explanation: The program's target and timeframe for its long-term measure is ambitious given the time it takes many water quality programs to see measurable results.

Evidence: FY '05 National Water Program Guidance EPA's Strategic Plan

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: Program activity measures in five areas address elements of the 106 program that are critical to accomplishment of the long term outcome measure--water quality standard attainment, total maximum daily load development, permitting, water quality standard development, and compliance.

Evidence: FY '05 National Water Program Guidance Clean Water Act EPA's Strategic Plan Federal/State 106 Budget Document Permitting for Environmental Results (PER) White Paper OECA Watch List Program Measures White Paper (including a glossary of terms)

YES 12%

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

Explanation: The program's baselines and targets for its annual measures are ambitious, with the exception of its compliance measure. EPA is working to develop a revised, more ambitious target for compliance.

Evidence: FY '05 National Water Program Guidance EPA's Strategic Plan Federal/State 106 Budget Document PER White Paper OECA Watch List Program Measures White Paper

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: Most States' workplans do not directly link their proposed activities to EPA's Strategic Plan or annual performance measures.


NO 0%

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 EPA's Inspector General is conducting reviews of its core clean water programs, including the 106 Program, EPA needs to augment and improve its own internal processes for evaluation.

Evidence: Office of Inspector General's Two Year Plan Oct 2004-September 2006 IG Report: EPA Needs to Reinforce Its National Pretreatment Program IG Report: Water Enforcement - State Enforcement of Clean Water Act Dischargers Can be More Effective IG Report: Proactive Approach Would Improve EPA's Water Quality Standards GAO Report: Water Quality - Improved EPA Guidance and Support Can Help States Develop Standards that Better Target Cleanup Efforts GAO Report: Water Quality - Inconsistent State Approaches Complicate Nation's Efforts to Identify its Most Polluted Waters

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: EPA's budget request for this program does not demonstrate how funding, policy, or legislative decisions may affect performance, nor does it provide evidence that the requested funding will enable the program to achieve its performance goals.


NO 0%

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

Explanation: EPA has taken steps to strengthen and align states' management and use of the 106 water quality grants program to be consistent with the EPA Strategic Plan and National Water Program Guidance. Specifically, beginning in FY 05, EPA has directed its grants recipients through national guidance to target grant funds toward achieving the Agency's performance goals. To better focus state efforts on priority performance goals and reduce the level of reporting burden, EPA targeted the goals toward a subset of seven specific program activity measures from a broader set of thirty five. However, EPA needs to improve the link between State workplans and its own strategic plan and program activity measures.

Evidence: FY '05 106 Program Guidance National Water Program Management White Paper

YES 12%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning Score 75%
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: EPA lacks statistically valid national water quality data. This lack of data hinders the ability of EPA to make informed decisions regarding program priorities, resource allocations, and general program management. EPA is currently working with States to generate better water quality data. EPA does use performance information from States to manage the program and improve performance. However, because State workplans generally do not directly link to EPA's Strategic Plan or annual performance measures, the connection between reported data and management actions is not transparent.

Evidence: Region 6 correspondence with LA and TX Region 9 letter to California and spreadsheet enclosure communicating resource allocation for FY 2006 PER database

NO 0%

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: EPA has designated 106 program managers in all regional offices and at the national level. The 106 staff and managers have responsibilities that are specified under performance standards through personnel performance agreement and related appraisals. Additionally, Federal regional grant project officers are held accountable for ensuring that all policies and procedures of the EPA Grants Administration Division are followed. While State workplans do not directly link to EPA's strategic plan or annual performance measures, EPA works closely with States to ensure they are meeting performance targets for various high priority activities. EPA Regions' review state performance annually, and delegated authority of EPA water programs can be revoked if the program does not meet the performance requirements of the Clean Water Act.

Evidence: February 18, 2004 Morris Winn Memo Linking Performance Standards for Managers & Supervisors to EPA's Strategic Goals and Mission OARM Guidance Memo Performance Standards for HQ Water Program Managers & 106 Coordinator, Regional Water Program Managers and 106 Coordinators Performance Standards for State Water Program Managers and 106 Coordinators 40CFRPart 35 (EPA Grant Regulations) EPA Grants Management Plan EPA Costs Review Policy 00-05 EPA Order 5700.7 on Environmental Results 40CFRPart 31.40, 41, 43 & 40CFR30.51, 52 & 63 Description of Accountability through Grants Requirements Regional examples of grantees held accountable for 106 grant performance, including 106 money in PPGs

YES 11%

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

Explanation: The 106 Program's fund obligation rate was approximately 97% in both FY 2003 and FY 2004. Each program office and grants management office conducts post-award monitoring of assistance agreements, including monitoring the draw-down of funds against grantee progress on workplan tasks and deliverables. All grantees are required to submit annual or more frequent financial status reports. Obligations and expenditures are tracked in the Agency's Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) against the Operating Plan. However, it appears EPA does not always have full knowledge of how grantees use the funds.

Evidence: FY2003/2004 Financial Data Warehouse Reports for 106 funds Annual Office of Budget Advice of Allowance Memo Weekly Statement of Work Status of Funds Report Quarterly SRO Report Agency Financial Statements Audit Report EPA Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) Automated Standard Application for Payments System (ASAP)

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: The Agency provides State and local agencies the use of a National procurement contract for water quality service resulting in cost savings and efficiency to the Federal government and State partners. Federal Regulation and OMB circulars require grantees to have procurement procedures in place at least as stringent as Federal Regulations. EPA also has developed an efficiency measure that tracks the cost per water segment restored.

Evidence: EPA's National Procurement Contract Procurement Regulations for Grantees, OMB Circulars A-87 106 Program Efficiency Measures Regional/State Examples of Internal Efficiencies (IT, permit review, TMDL tracking, enforcement tracking, grants management) Examples of State Corrective Actions taken as a result of PER

YES 11%

Does the program collaborate and coordinate effectively with related programs?

Explanation: Program collaboration and coordination are accomplished via inter-agency and intra-state relationships and formal agreements. Through 106 grants, EPA works with and provides funding to States to support partnerships that accomplish improved environmental quality across the country. In addition, interstate organizations receive Section 106 funds to support regionally based water quality efforts and to promote collaboration and coordination among the states. Further, EPA and State collaboration is a continuous process, covering a broad scope of activities on an annual basis.

Evidence: 106 Program Outcome Structure State/EPA Collaboration White Paper Regional/State Examples including MOAs, MOUs, contract agreements for monitoring, sharing of water quality data, NPDES permitting & enforcement

YES 11%

Does the program use strong financial management practices?

Explanation: The 106 program follows EPA's financial management guidelines for committing, obligating, reprogramming, and reconciling appropriated funds. At each step in the process, the propriety of the obligation and subsequent payment is reviewed. The Agency has a system of controls and accountability in place, based on GAO and other principles, to ensure that improper payments are not made. For the 106 grants, the EPA project officer ensures that the grant workplan properly reflects activities and commitments commensurate with the funding level of the grant. EPA obligates the funds to the grantee when the workplan is approved. During the performance period, the project officer performs a review of the status of the grantee's progress in implementing the workplan, including the amount of the grant funds which the State has drawn down. During grant close-out, the PO will review progress achieved against funds used and reconcile any remaining discrepancies.

Evidence: Regional Pre Award Reviews EPA's Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) EPA's Integrated Grants Management System (IGMS) Automated Standard Application for Payments (ASAP) System EPA's Financial Statements Audit Report

YES 11%

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

Explanation: The 106 Program is implementing the various elements of the Agency's 5-year Grants Management Plan affecting grants targeted for water quality implementation. This includes new requirements and related guidance and training affecting project officers and recipients on: a) the appropriateness of grant competition, b) reasonable cost and price review, c) EPA determination of management capabilities of non-profit entities prior to award, and d) the clear articulation and documentation of programmatic and environmental results from grants. EPA is also taking steps to better align the priorities in its strategic plan, budget and annual 106 program guidance with resources, improved measures of performance and reported results. The program also has implemented the Permitting for Environmental Results to help reduce the NPDES permit backlog, an agency weakness. EPA needs to better link its strategic plan and State workplans to improve accountability and performance tracking.

Evidence: 2005-2007 National Program Manager Guidance EPA Grants Management Plan: 2003-2008 EPA's Cost Review Policy 00-05 EPA Order 5700.7 on Environmental Results FY '05 106 Program Guidance FMFIA Permitting for Environmental Results

YES 11%

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

Explanation: Under EPA Order 5700.6 - Policy on Compliance, Review and Monitoring, EPA is required to provide post-award monitoring for the purpose of effective oversight of recipient performance and management on every grant. The 106 Program, under the authority of Section 106 of CWA and codified in 40 CFR 35 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, including on-site visits of delegated state water quality programs. Regions maintain databases which allow them to schedule and track completion of annual evaluations. The IGMS post award monitoring database is used for tracking post award grants management activities such as site visits, technical/ financial/programmatic assistance provided, and documenting the identification of issues and how issues are resolved.

Evidence: EPA Order 5700.6A1 on Compliance, Review and Monitoring 40CFR35 Description of Regional Oversight IGMS Baseline Monitoring & Advanced Monitoring Checklists for Project Officers End of Year & Mid Year Status Reports Examples of Regional & State Databases Region 8 Uniform Oversight System for 106

YES 11%

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: EPA collects States' water quality program performance data through its Permitting for Environmental Results initiative, and makes this information available on the EPA website. EPA also plans to begin publishing each States performance on PART measures soon. However, EPA could improve transparency by linking State workplans to EPA's strategic plan and annual performance measures, and reporting performance data in the context of those commitments.

Evidence: WATERS Envirofacts EPA's National Water Program Management System EPA FY 2003 & FY 2004 Annual Reports PER Profiles National Water Quality Inventory Reports EPA's TMDL website Examples of performance information made available on State and Regional websites

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

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

Explanation: The program has made progress on an annualized version of its long-term measure.

Evidence: FY '05 National Water Program Assessment Performance Report Permit Compliance System (PCS) National Water Program Management White Paper


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

Explanation: The program achieved its annual goals for which it has ambitious targets and baselines.

Evidence: FY '05 National Water Program Assessment Performance Report Permit Compliance System (PCS) National Water Program Management White Paper


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

Explanation: The program just developed a baseline for its efficiency measure iin 2005. However, it appears that the cost per water segment restored declined from previous years.

Evidence: FY '05 National Water Program Assessment Performance Report Federal/State 106 Budget Document Efficiency Measure White Paper for the 106 Program


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

Explanation: The 106 program compares favorably to State water quality programs in that it is attempting to improve accountability and emphasize performance and results.

Evidence: Clean Water Action Sections 101, 104, 106(e), 303, 402 106 Program Outcome Structure


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

Explanation: Independent evaluations conducted by the EPA's Office of Inspector General and the Government Accounting Office (GAO) indicate that key components of the National Water Program are effective but further improvements are needed. The GAO has conducted several studies over the past decade that indicate EPA is making progress at the state level but more work needs to be done to collect better monitoring data and develop more effective performance measures.

Evidence: OIG's Multi-Year Plan March 2003- October 2005 (EPA-350-R-03-002) OIG's Two Year Plan Oct 2004-September 2006 IG Report: EPA Needs to Reinforce Its National Pretreatment Program IG Report: Water Enforcement - State Enforcement of Clean Water Act Dischargers Can be More Effective IG Report: Proactive Approach Would Improve EPA's Water Quality Standards GAO Report: Water Quality - Improved EPA Guidance and Support Can Help States Develop Standards that Better Target Cleanup Efforts GAO Report: Water Quality - Inconsistent State Approaches Complicate Nation's Efforts to Identify its Most Polluted Waters

Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability Score 40%

Last updated: 09062008.2005SPR