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Justice, Fairness, Inclusion, and Performance.

Improving the National Preparedness System: Developing More Meaningful Grant Performance Measures

The U.S. Congress asked an expert panel of the National Academy of Public Administration to assist the FEMA Administrator in studying, developing, and implementing quantifiable performance measures to assess the effectiveness of homeland security preparedness grants. The Academy Panel focused the scope of this study on the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) and Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI), as these are the two largest of FEMA’s homeland security grant programs.

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Key Findings

The Panel found that measuring the outcomes of these grants poses two challenges. First, the preparedness system’s greatest strength—conducting efforts in an integrated fashion that blends resources from multiple sources—is also its greatest weakness from a performance measurement standpoint. Second, the federal government has not developed measurable standards for preparedness capabilities to guide the performance of the states and urban areas receiving these grants.


The Panel recommends a set of measures that collectively begin to address the effectiveness of the two grant programs. The Panel underscores that this effort is only a beginning. Good measurement systems evolve over time as programs and priorities mature and new performance challenges emerge. This set of measures is presented in three parts: Part 1: Effective and Targeted Grant Investments – These measures examine the elements that are needed to make sure that grant investments are targeted to priorities and effectively carried out. Part 2: Context Measures – While not performance measures per se, these provide meaningful context to help understand and improve the execution of the grant programs. Part 3: Collaboration Measures – This part discusses measures the Panel recommends that FEMA should assess preparedness collaborations to capture an important facet of grant performance. In addition to the recommendations for performance measures, the Panel offers several recommendations to FEMA that will strengthen the performance of these grants. These include pairing quantitative with qualitative measures, starting the grant cycle earlier, communicating performance results more broadly, institutionalizing the nationwide plan review, and assessing how states and urban areas adapt to the decrease in number of federally funded UASIs and decline in funding.