By: Helena Sims & Rich Rasa
Posted January 28, 2015 on Funding for Results
A new, online guide issued by a broad-based intergovernmental partnership provides a roadmap to improving program effectiveness and leveraging disconnected federal, state, local, and private resources. The free guide, entitled, “Blended and Braided Funding: A Guide for Policy Makers and Practitioners (Guide),” was issued by the Association of Government Accountant’s Intergovernmental Partnership in December 2014.
As public and government officials pursue greater transparency and accountability, they are also striving to ‘do more with less’ and promote better program delivery and outcomes. The AGA Guide is intended to help policy makers and practitioners use funds serving the same or similar populations with greater flexibility to bring about program efficiencies, improve outcomes, and save on costs.
Officials at all levels of government can do better in dealing with fiscal constraints by actively working together.
One way to achieve savings is through the braiding (strategic coordination of separate programs and funding streams) and blending (strategic consolidation of funding streams from separate programs in a pool allowed for through program statute) of funds. Both braided and blended funding promote the effective use of government funds by leveraging money being spent on separate programs serving similar populations. The Guide provides examples of projects allowing the braiding and/or blending of program resources, such as the EPA’s Performance Partnership Grants, the Department of Education’s Schoolwide Programs, and the new Performance Partnership pilots for Disconnected Youth. These programs are further explored in a chapter on lessons learned and recommendations gleaned from existing projects. Among the lessons learned, the Guide concludes that blended and braided funding offer:
- a greater ability to meet the public’s needs;
- the opportunity to learn by providing an opportunity to experiment;
- an increased flexibility to achieve defined outcomes;
- the capability to determine program success based on identified outcomes and measures;
- the ability to avoid program duplication, overlap, and fragmentation;
- audits focused on activities that support desired outcomes;
- an increased focus on performance and outcomes vs. compliance;
- an increased ability to focus more on program goals and less on administration; and
- greater stakeholder collaboration, coordination of services, and comprehensive project management.
Policy makers and practitioners can use the Guide’s decision framework to determine whether to blend or braid funds, or do both. Decision-makers are encouraged to identify opportunities that may previously have been overlooked when working to leverage funds and maximize program performance. Five basic questions help leaders determine whether a project is a good candidate for blending or braiding funding. The framework is equally applicable to: entities, like legislative bodies, which set program policy; fiscal leaders, such as comptrollers and chief financial officers who monitor consolidated funding; and even the oversight community, as they formulate and carry out oversight activities.
There is a path to better program performance in challenging fiscal times. By connecting programs and activities to foster better outcomes through the blending and braiding of funds, governments can leverage funds from a variety of sources to better serve the public in a more comprehensive, coordinated, and efficient manner. Find the path forward in the AGA’s guide to blending and braiding funds.
With almost 16,000 members nationwide, the Association of Government Accountants is the member organization for financial professionals in government. AGA’s Intergovernmental Partnership is comprised of high-ranking officials from the federal, state and local levels of government and higher education. Created by AGA in 2007, the Intergovernmental Partnership is charged with opening the lines of communication among governments.
Helena Sims is the Director of Intergovernmental Relations for AGA. Rich Rasa, Director, State and Local Advisory Services, Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Education, served as the liaison between the Intergovernmental Partnership’s Steering Committee and the work group that developed the guide.
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