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Niche growing for nursing education project and program evaluation.

Growing pressures for public accountability have prompted federal agencies to show that funding priorities are evidence based. A July 29, 2010 memo from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) (Memo M-10-32), instructed agencies to provide plans for how both project and program evaluations demonstrate or validate impact and are used to support budget priorities ( The OMB directive to develop and conduct "rigorous, independent program evaluations" will correct problems that kept previous assessment systems from creating real improvement in government performance. These targeted project and program evaluation data promise to generate facts that will be meaningful in defending important nursing programs, such as the Title VIII--Nursing Workforce Development and Title VII--Health Professions programs at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

In the past six months, HRSA's Bureau of Health Professions (BHPr) has published two clearance requests seeking approval from OMB for performance data collection of its 2011-2012 Titles VIII and VII grantees. Specifically, the October 14, 2011 Federal Register notice proposes revisions to the BHPr Performance Report for Grants and Cooperative Agreements (PRGCA) (

Grantees are familiar with the PRGCA, a data management tool used to ensure compliance with legislative requirements and to report to OMB and other decision makers on grantee success in achieving project objectives and cross-cutting programmatic goals. The BHPr performance measurement system reflects the goal of strengthening the health care workforce. The proposed 2011-2012 PRGCA outlines the following BHPr performance goals:

* Develop diverse well trained health care practitioners--Supply

* Enhance the quality of training--Quality

* Diversify the health professions pipeline--Diversity

* Influence practice location of health practitioners--Distribution

* Build capacity with training infrastructure support--Infrastructure

The new requested BHPr performance measurement system includes three levels of measurement: individual trainee, program, and program cluster. The individual trainee-level data collection is a novel element in the 2011-2012 PRGCA, supporting the goal of assessing workforce recruitment, training activities, retention, intended practice location, and trainee characteristics, such as disadvantaged background, and race and ethnic diversity. The program-level measures will provide information unique to the grant objectives for new and ongoing programs. The program cluster-level measures will help determine progress towards meeting BHPr goals by assessing programs that offer similar activities and have similar performance outcome measures. As with previous PRGCAs, the manual will detail what data each Title VIII and Title VII program grantee is required to submit and how to submit the performance data.

It is anticipated that OMB approval will occur within the next few months. In the near future, HRSA BHPr grantees will receive a notice for a conference call covering the 2011-2012 final reporting requirements. The NLN's Public Policy Committee has been following the HRSA BHPr data collection revision effort.

For more details, individuals may email to request copies of the HRSA BHPr information collection instruments, supporting statements, and supplemental documents, referred to as "OMB No. 0915-0061."

Prepared by Terri L. Nally, Senior Public Policy Specialist, NLN
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Author:Nally, Terri L.
Publication:Nursing Education Policy Newsletter
Date:Nov 1, 2011
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