Award Date

2014

Degree Type

Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)

Department

Environmental and Public Affairs

First Committee Member

Jaewon Lim

Second Committee Member

Christopher Stream

Number of Pages

88

Abstract

Background

Nevada’s competitiveness in receiving federal funding has been a serious and contentious topic that has steered recent efforts to ascertain ways the state can increase and utilize federal dollars efficiently. Nevada is positioned 53rd out of 53 U.S. states and territories in bringing federal dollars to the state, missing out on $1.5 billion annually (Gustafson, 2012). Nevada spends far less on Medicaid (per capita) than any other state. Medicaid is a key factor in improving Nevada’s position; however, there are additional non-formula funding opportunities that are missed every year.

Purpose

The purpose of this evaluation project is to identify infrastructural factors that are impacting Nevada’s performance in receiving federal funding, specifically, the lack of capacity to apply for grants and manage awarded funds.

The review of capacity includes:

  • Qualified, competent staff
  • Sustainable infrastructure
  • Collaborative partnerships
  • Appropriate evaluation plans
  • Effective data tracking systems

Methodology

In order to identify areas within the State that are contributing to Nevada’s current position, a conjunction of quantitative and qualitative research methods were used. A survey was developed to identify ways for Nevada to increase competitiveness in procurement of federal funds. In addition to the survey, interviews were conducted with key staff members within the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health to further analyze the survey results. Lastly, a benchmark study highlighted regional and turn around states (states making significant improvement in a short period of time) in order to identify their approaches that may be successfully adopted in Nevada.

Key Findings

Survey

  • Employees across the state feel that their agencies or departments are not doing enough to secure grant funding.
  • Majority of respondents (89%) want their agencies to go after more funding.
  • Majority of respondents (79%) said the state can do more to secure federal grants.
  • More than two-thirds of respondents (70%) feel some level of confidence that they will receive a grant for which they have applied.
  • Most common suggestion of respondents (36.5%) suggested adding new staff to alleviate some of the headaches of applying for and managing grants.
  • One respondent with the title of Grant Writer secured 86% of the grants he submitted.
  • Survey respondents shared concern that a lack of infrastructure is currently holding back the grant application and management process.
  • The processes to apply for and manage grants can be overwhelming, especially for some of the smaller offices without proper personnel.

Interviews

  • Restructuring of DPBH led to a loss of staff and resources that limits grant applications and grant management capabilities.
  • Limited resources and staff is the biggest roadblock to maximizing federal funding.
  • Writing the grant does have its challenges, but the greater challenge is implementing the grant.
  • Partnerships with community agencies increase grant applications and improve the grant management process within Mental Health.
  • The lengthy process at the department level to process paperwork and receive approvals to fulfill grant requirements has a negative impact on the outcome of the grant.

State Comparison

  • Organization structure and the distribution of resources to support grant application activities vary by state.
  • Limited correlation was found between the strategy used to organize capacity resources and federal funding performance due to limited data availability on federal funding received excluding Medicaid awards at state level.
  • The state with the most useful tools and resources to support the procurement of Federal funds is the State of Maryland with its Governor’s Grants Office (GGO).

Recommendations

Policy

  • Establish policies that facilitate the completion of grant applications by one person or one agency to minimize the time and resources utilized.
  • Establish a Southern Nevada Regional Grants Procurement, Coordination and Management office, to complement the Northern Nevada Grants Procurement, Coordination and Management Office to further increase its reach and capacity in assisting all Nevada agencies and higher education/research institutions. With this expansion, the regional offices should also establish a cooperative partnership with the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE).
  • Provide the necessary resources to agencies to meet the requirement (NRS 232.225): Inform the Grant Management Office of the intent to submit a grant; provide the application after submission; and provide a copy of the Notice of Grant Award (NOGA) or denial of funding.
  • Clearly define ‘intent’ and establish date expectations after submission and for proof of award or denial.
  • Implement accountability standards to ensure consistent reporting from all state agencies.
  • Mandate the selection and use of data tracking systems within each agency.
  • Leverage expertise housed within the NSHE to increase the production of competitive grant applications in a collaborative fashion to include those experts from various research disciplines.

Future Evaluation

  • Conduct a study comparing centralized state driven grant offices versus states utilizing alternative methods. Analyze the federal dollar amounts secured by state over a long-term period.
  • Analyze policies in other states that minimize requirements and approvals which exist at the division level to reduce additional delays that negatively impact grants application, management and performance.
  • Evaluate the long-term value of grant writers at the state level (Grant Management Office) versus additional staff at the division level.

The ideal amount of federal funding per state is debatable, but clearly Nevada’s current position in federal funding is concerning. The first step to increasing Nevada’s competitiveness is to establish policies that provide infrastructure and performance tracking capabilities. Prior to the implementation of policies to increase grant applications, the state should focus on improving strategies to manage current grant programs. Policy transitions to increase competitiveness should minimize the potential negative impact on employee work performance as much as possible to reduce the loss of historical knowledge, staff turnover and established infrastructure within divisions to prepare and monitor grants.

Keywords

Federal aid; Grants-in-aid; Medicaid; Mental health; Mental health services; Nevada; Public administration; Public health

Disciplines

Health Policy | Public Administration | Public Affairs | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration

Language

English


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