Federal agencies are particularly interested in feedback about the initial design of the application process described below. Prospective applicants or members of partnerships are invited to submit letters of interest to help the Administration gauge interest and target technical assistance. Later this spring, a lead Federal agency will solicit applications on behalf of ED, DOL, HHS, CNCS, IMLS, and potentially other eligible Federal agencies (referred to under the Act as related agencies). The solicitation, which will include a small amount of start-up money (such as several hundred thousand dollars) to support pilot planning and implementation, would invite interested States, Tribes, localities, and regions to submit a preliminary application that provides sufficient information for the Administration to determine which proposals have the greatest potential to be successful. Based on an interagency review of the preliminary applications, top applicants would be invited to submit full applications in late summer. This timeline would enable the Administration to select pilots in the fall. A final time line for the selection process will be issued when pilot applications are solicited.
Optional Letter of Interest.
Any prospective applicants may, beginning now, submit a 2-3 page letter of interest that includes a summary of the proposal and a description of the governmental entities and other partners that could be involved. Prospective applicants could indicate their readiness to submit a 2014 application, or their preference to apply in 2015 if Congress extends the pilot authority into next year. Letters of interest could also comment on issues such as: the programs for which the prospective applicant might request to blend funding; additional waivers or other flexibilities the applicant may request (and why); obstacles to successfully completing a 2014 application; technical assistance that would help the applicant prepare a strong application; and other issues raised in this Consultation Paper. Letters can be submitted via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters are not considered part of the formal application process, do not affect eligibility to apply, and will not affect the review of an application.
Preliminary Application (Early Summer).
The participating Federal agencies are considering a Preliminary Application that will consist of a “concept paper” (not more than fifteen pages in length). The specific mechanism for soliciting these Preliminary Applications has yet to be determined, but it would outline the requirements for applying for a pilot and the content of the concept paper. The concept paper would likely need to include the following information:
- An overview of the proposed pilot, including target population and geographic locale.
- The objectives of the pilot and how success will be measured, including (1) key indicators of progress and outcomes for the target population and (2) key indicators of program or system performance.
- A needs assessment using existing community-level data and a discussion of how the applicant used the assessment to identify the youth population with the greatest unmet need. Where possible, data should be disaggregated by race, age, and gender. A preliminary needs assessment may be included if data remains under analysis.
- The governance structure of the pilot, including the State, local, tribal, and philanthropic partners that will provide leadership, expertise, services, and resources.
- The Federal, State, tribal, and local programs and funding streams that will be involved in the pilot, as well as the competitive grant funds that the pilot jurisdiction may seek for pilot purposes over the coming year.
- The specific waivers or other flexibility to be requested and an explanation of why the flexibility is needed and how it will result in either efficiencies from reduced burden or administrative barriers or increased access of individuals to services provided with the involved funds.
- The evidence-based and evidence-informed practices under consideration and whether organizations involved in the partnership have experience implementing these or similar practices.1
- The capacity of the jurisdiction to implement the pilot successfully, including effective leadership, a data infrastructure that can provide reliable data to measure progress and inform decision-making, a record of managing for improved performance, and a clear history of effective stewardship of Federal funds, such as no material findings from financial audits.
- Commitment to evaluate the pilot. At a minimum, this should include a commitment to identifying and obtaining relevant outcome data. Ideally, it would include participation in a rigorous evaluation of the impact of at least one major intervention or service delivery component as well as a process evaluation. (See further discussion in Section 7.)
- Assurance and evidence that blending funding (1) will not result in denying or restricting the eligibility of any individual for any of the services that (in whole or in part) are funded by the agency’s programs and Federal discretionary funds that are involved in the Pilot, and (2) will not otherwise adversely affect vulnerable populations that are the recipients of such services based on the best available information.
The Preliminary Application should demonstrate that all of the necessary State, tribal, or local program officials whose programs and/or program funds will be involved support the objectives and basic contours of the proposed pilot.
Invitation to Submit Full Proposal (Mid-Summer).
In the summer, Federal agencies intend to invite the strongest candidates, which are most prepared to implement the first round of pilots with 2014 funds, to submit full proposals with additional detail. (Other promising candidates will be encouraged to refine and resubmit their proposals next year, if Congress authorizes additional pilots as proposed by in the President’s 2015 Budget.) As part of the review process, Federal agencies may invite applicants to provide more detail on their proposals. The selection criteria that will be used in both of the application stages are still being determined. (See further discussion in Section 10.)
Once up to ten pilot sites have been selected, the relevant Federal agencies will work with each one to develop a Performance Partnership agreement. Performance Partnership agreements will formalize many of the elements that will have been submitted as part of an application but may require slight changes or additional details to ensure that all statutory requirements are met. Much of the specific content of the agreements is outlined above in Section 1. Once all necessary parties sign the agreement, that community will be able to implement its Performance Partnership Pilot.
Key questions for stakeholders:
- What are the benefits and drawbacks of the solicitation process described above?
- Does the preliminary application content include the right information to distinguish the top candidates?
- What will be the greatest challenges for communities to complete applications in this timeframe and what could be done to mitigate them? What assistance or clarification could the Federal agencies provide?
- Would selected pilot sites benefit from a developmental period before implementation begins and, if so, could pilot sites still feasibly use fiscal year 2014 funds?
1 For purposes of this document, practices are considered evidence-based if they replicate practices that have been evaluated using rigorous evaluation designs such as random controlled or high-quality quasi-experimental trials and that have demonstrated positive impacts for youth, families, and communities. Practices are considered evidence-informed if they bring together the best available research, professional expertise, and input from youth and families to identify and deliver services that have promise to achieve positive outcomes for youth, families, and communities.