New Thinking to Resolve Old Problems: The Partnership Fund for Program Integrity Innovation
The Partnership Fund for Program Integrity Innovation was established in 2010 with a $37.5 million appropriation managed by OMB, authorized through FY 2012. The Partnership Fund fosters dialogue among States, localities, and the Federal government to identify and fund innovative pilot projects that bridge or break down the silos across programs and between levels of government to improve service and reduce costs in government benefit programs.
In the current fiscal environment, the imperative to meet greater programmatic need with fewer resources confronts all levels of government. To help meet this imperative, the Federal government must seek opportunities to eliminate duplicative or unproductive processes within and across programs, in partnership with State and local governments.
To meet this challenge, Congress has authorized the Partnership Fund for Program Integrity Innovation. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) administers the Partnership Fund. OMB transfers funds to lead Federal agencies, who work with States to implement pilots that test innovations to increase payment accuracy, streamline operations, lower costs, and improve service delivery. OMB Director Jack Lew recently discussed the program in a blog posting on OMB’s web site.
OMB is taking a number of steps to build public understanding of and participation in the Partnership Fund. OMB posts a program web site (http://www.partner4solutions.gov) and works with State interest groups, including NGA, NASCIO, NASACT, and APHSA, as part of the Collaborative Forum that has been established to develop and consult on pilot proposals that are ultimately proposed to OMB for funding (http://collaborativeforumonline.com). The Forum is an independent entity led by States, which also includes federal, local, not-for-profit, industry, and other stakeholders. In addition, the Forum hosts webinars to educate members on compelling issues and resources that could apply to pilots, including such topics as privacy, homelessness, and emerging fraud detection tools.
Beyond the current set of activities, the Partnership Fund model might be extendable to benefits programs more generally, and identify additional potential pilots around these concepts. A broader framework for modernization of benefits administration can maximize the potential benefit of the Partnership Fund, and guide pilot projects that inform wider implementation.
The March 3 Roundtable
The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), the Partnership for Public Service (PPS) and the IBM Center for The Business of Government (CBG) recently convened a Roundtable meeting to gain expert perspectives from federal executive and legislative branch stakeholders, state and local leaders, and academic, non-profit, and industry thought leaders. Specifically, this meeting helped define high-level goals for how more integrated, streamlined program administration could look in the future; how best to spur and pilot new kinds of innovations that advance these goals; and how OMB could identify other programs that might be improved through a collaboration and funding model like that of the Partnership.
Meeting participants focused on strategies to overcome barriers to progress in three areas:
- Law & Policy –Well-intentioned measures by congressional committees, Federal agencies, and state and local implementers have led to a set of laws, regulations and administrative procedures that often result in inefficient allocation of resources. For example, OMB cost allocation policy (Circular A-87) has been often cited as causing states to implement duplicative information system and other infrastructures.
- Culture & Metrics – Government agencies have little incentive to take risks for fear of negative publicity or an audit if something goes wrong, and few good ways to measure progress.
- Technology – Cloud computing, shared services, and group decision tools allow for new ways to cut across programs that should be operationally integrated for efficient and effective service delivery.
The Roundtable is intended to complement the work of the Collaborative Forum, which is more focused on generating and consulting on specific pilot project proposals. Shortly, the Center, NAPA, PPS and CBG will produce a high-level summary report to help to spread information on the Partnership Fund. The Sponsors hope that this effort will spur additional efforts to identify, develop and help implement improvements in benefits program integrity.