Health profession training demonstration project reporting system useful, needs tweaking

Grant recipients in a demonstration project aimed at training low-income individuals to perform in-demand health care jobs relied on a mandated performance reporting system (PRS) for more than its basic purpose of tracking program outcomes for grant performance reporting, but the PRS should be enhanced. An Urban Institute study of non-tribal Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) Program grant recipients found that more recipients reported using PRS data than data from other management information systems (MISs). However, they relied more heavily on other data to identify the need for change within their projects and felt the PRS could be improved.

PRS

Section 5507(a) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) established the HPOG, which funds education and training of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients in health care occupations that both “pay well” and are expected to be in high demand or subject to labor shortages. All HPOG grantees must use the PRS to track and report performance information. According to the study, 81 percent of grantees also used other MISs, some of which predated the HPOG Program or the PRS, but most reported that PRS performance information was more useful than information from other MISs in various categories, including developing internal goals and program targets and making decisions about particular procedures and policies. Although half of all grantees used PRS data and other performance information to identify needs for program change, they were more likely to rely on other sources of information, including feedback from program staff, local employers, and program participants.

Room for improvement

HPOG grants were first issued in 2010. When asked about the progress of PRS, one grantee commented, “There were a lot of things not on PRS that are there now. . . I would love for it to be even better.” The study authors suggest that the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) develop a management information process that negates the need for grantees to maintain multiple systems, provide guidance on basic analysis of performance data, and provide guidance as to how information can be sued for performance management among staff. They also suggested providing guidance to track participants who have left the program

Methodology

To conduct the study, researchers administered a close-ended questionnaire to the directors of all 27 non-tribal HPOG grantees and received 26 responses. They then conducted 20 telephone interviews with grantee staff, including two who operated multiple programs.