Transformation and Sustainability Plan

CNCS CEO Barbara Stewart Quote - Our responsibility is too great and our mission too important not to make these improvements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT THE PLAN ENTAILS

PRIORITIES OF TRANFORMATION

 

Ensure our Core Business Functions are Accountable and Effective

Accountability icon
 

What CNCS is Doing & Why are we Doing It

What’s Happening Now

 

CNCS is developing a grants, project, and member management system that will be used to modernize our existing system. CNCS’s existing grants management technology system, e-Grants, is nearly 20 years old, limited in capacity, and costly to maintain.

While there remains much work to do, CNCS is advancing the development of a new grants, projects, and member management system. We have been engaging grantee and sponsor representatives from all of CNCS’s programs that currently use e-Grants in user experience interviews to uncover user needs, identify unspoken challenges in the current system, and discover opportunities for improvements in a future system.

 

CNCS is strengthening its financial management and information technology practices to correct weaknesses identified in its FY17 and FY18 audits. It is critical that CNCS have effective and accountable core operations to support the delivery of national service programs.

CNCS developed and is implementing a detailed corrective action plan that will mitigate many of the financial management findings identified in the FY17 and FY18 Financial Statement audits.  A significant amount of work has been done within accounting in preparation for the FY19 Financial Statement audit which will commence in April 2019.

 

CNCS engaged the Department of Treasury’s Bureau of Fiscal Services to evaluate the potential use of shared services for CNCS’s procurement, travel, human resources, and accounting functions. Shared services with other federal agencies may provide better, faster, and/or more affordable alternatives for a small agency like CNCS.

CNCS is analyzing and evaluating the options that have been provided by the Bureau of Fiscal Services.

 

CNCS is creating new tools and policies to supports grantees’ and sponsors’ compliance with criminal history check requirements. Grantees report that the process for conducting legislatively-required National Service Criminal History Checks (NSCHC) is difficult and burdensome, which is reflected in unacceptable rates of technical noncompliance by grantees.

Last fall, CNCS launched new tools and policies to help grantees eliminate barriers to compliance with the NSCHC and reduce noncompliance. We have seen strong use of the new Truescreen vendor system. Additionally, in late March 2019, we announced an extension of the Exemption Period to June 30, 2019 to ensure all grantees, and subgrantees as applicable, take advantage of the opportunity to complete CHC rechecks through CNCS-contracted vendors. CNCS is encouraging grantees  who have not already taken advantage of this Exemption Period to do so.

What CNCS is Doing & Why are we Doing It

CNCS is developing a grants, project, and member management system that will be used to modernize our existing system. CNCS’s existing grants management technology system, e-Grants, is nearly 20 years old, limited in capacity, and costly to maintain.

What’s Happening Now

While there remains much work to do, CNCS is advancing the development of a new grants, projects, and member management system. We have been engaging grantee and sponsor representatives from all of CNCS’s programs that currently use e-Grants in user experience interviews to uncover user needs, identify unspoken challenges in the current system, and discover opportunities for improvements in a future system.

 

What CNCS is Doing & Why are we Doing It

CNCS is strengthening its financial management and information technology practices to correct weaknesses identified in its FY17 and FY18 audits. It is critical that CNCS have effective and accountable core operations to support the delivery of national service programs.

What’s Happening Now

CNCS developed and is implementing a detailed corrective action plan that will mitigate many of the financial management findings identified in the FY17 and FY18 Financial Statement audits.  A significant amount of work has been done within accounting in preparation for the FY19 Financial Statement audit which will commence in April 2019.

 

What CNCS is Doing & Why are we Doing It

CNCS engaged the Department of Treasury’s Bureau of Fiscal Services to evaluate the potential use of shared services for CNCS’s procurement, travel, human resources, and accounting functions. Shared services with other federal agencies may provide better, faster, and/or more affordable alternatives for a small agency like CNCS.

What’s Happening Now

CNCS is analyzing and evaluating the options that have been provided by the Bureau of Fiscal Services.

 

What CNCS is Doing & Why are we Doing It

CNCS is creating new tools and policies to supports grantees’ and sponsors’ compliance with criminal history check requirements. Grantees report that the process for conducting legislatively-required National Service Criminal History Checks (NSCHC) is difficult and burdensome, which is reflected in unacceptable rates of technical noncompliance by grantees.

What’s Happening Now

Last fall, CNCS launched new tools and policies to help grantees eliminate barriers to compliance with the NSCHC and reduce noncompliance. We have seen strong use of the new Truescreen vendor system. Additionally, in late March 2019, we announced an extension of the Exemption Period to June 30, 2019 to ensure all grantees, and subgrantees as applicable, take advantage of the opportunity to complete CHC rechecks through CNCS-contracted vendors. CNCS is encouraging grantees  who have not already taken advantage of this Exemption Period to do so.

 

 

 

Make it Easier for Organizations and Individuals to Participate in our Programs

Participation icon
 

What CNCS is Doing & Why are we Doing It

What’s Happening Now

 

CNCS continues to seek ways to simplify the application and administration processes for grants and projects. Grantees have communicated it is often difficult to navigate the application process, and they seek more flexibility to effectively administer programs.

  • AmeriCorps State & National streamlined the FY19 Notice of Funding Opportunity by eliminating criteria that was duplicative or undifferentiated. The narrative application length is now 10 pages, which is down from a high of 27 pages over the past several years.
  • Senior Corps’ finalized new regulations in 2019 that provide program sponsors with the increased flexibility in program administration and streamlined requirements that they have long been seeking. 
  • In Fall 2018, AmeriCorps VISTA launched new quarterly deadlines for Concept Papers. This provides organizations across the country more opportunity and timing certainty to apply for VISTA slots.
  • CNCS streamlined the number of performance measure choices across all of its programs from 233 to 77, which is reducing the burden on grant applicants.

 

CNCS is exploring ways to simplify and strengthen the CNCS brand to support stronger volunteer, member, and organization awareness of national service opportunities. CNCS has more than a dozen brands, sub-brands, and visual identities, which creates confusion among the public and contributes to challenges recruiting members and volunteers.

CNCS is currently conducting and evaluating market research, including stakeholder perceptions of the brands and how to enhance them.

What CNCS is Doing & Why are we Doing It

CNCS continues to seek ways to simplify the application and administration processes for grants and projects. Grantees have communicated that is often difficult to navigate the application process and they seek more flexibility to effectively administer programs.

What’s Happening Now

  • AmeriCorps State & National streamlined the FY19 Notice of Funding Opportunity by eliminating criteria that was duplicative or undifferentiated.  The narrative section is now 10 pages, which is down from 12 pages in 2018 and 15 pages in 2017. The performance measure choices were also reduced from 140 to 40 which reduced the document that applicants had to read from 200 pages to 32 pages.
  • Senior Corps’ finalized new regulations in 2019 that provide program sponsors with the increased flexibility in program administration and streamlined requirements that they have long been seeking.
  • In Fall 2018, AmeriCorps VISTA launched new quarterly deadlines for Concept Papers. This provides organizations across the country more opportunity and timing certainty to apply for VISTA slots.
  • CNCS streamlined the number of performance measure choices across all of its programs from 233 to 77, which is reducing the burden on grant applicants.

 

What CNCS is Doing & Why are we Doing It

CNCS is exploring ways to simplify and strengthen the CNCS brand to support stronger volunteer, member, and organization awareness of national service opportunities. CNCS has more than a dozen brands, sub-brands, and visual identities, which creates confusion among the public and contributes to challenges recruiting members and volunteers.

What’s Happening Now

CNCS is currently conducting and evaluating market research, including stakeholder perceptions of the brands and how to enhance them.

 

 

 

Align our Workforce and Workplaces to Better Serve our Customers,
Meet Evolving Needs, and Ensure Efficient Use of Public Funds

Workforce icon
 

What CNCS is Doing & Why are we Doing It

What’s Happening Now

 

CNCS is creating new ‘Portfolio Manager’ positions responsible for both the programmatic and financial aspects of a grant or project to support the full menu of national service programs. Under CNCS’s current operating model, programs and functions are siloed, but with the new model, grantees and sponsors will work with one person at CNCS for both the programmatic and financial aspects of their grant(s).

CNCS is improving training and business processes. CNCS staff continue to lay the groundwork for success in our realigned organizational structure. Our Business Process Working Group is reviewing our agency’s processes, procedures, and guidance for each phase of the grant and project life cycle to ensure we have standardized, easy-to-use resources to support employees in doing their jobs and providing service to you. Meanwhile, the Training and Development Working Group is reviewing and developing new plans for how we orient staff to CNCS, onboard and train staff for the positions that play key roles in the grant and project life cycle, and continue to develop employees’ skills and experiences over the course of their careers at CNCS. These efforts will parlay into the support, training, and technical assistance we provide you.

 

Simplifying Who You Work With at CNCS

 

If you are a current or prospective grantee, who do you interact with at CNCS?
 

CNCS contact format

 

 

What CNCS is Doing & Why are we Doing It

 

 

What’s Happening Now

 

CNCS is establishing a new, centralized Office of Monitoring based at HQ to separate the duties of those who approve grants and provide day-to-day technical assistance, from those who conduct grants compliance testing. The new approach addresses long-standing concerns by the GAO and CNCS Office of Inspector General about weaknesses and potential bias in grant oversight.

CNCS plans to stand up the new office by end of FY19. CNCS has hired its first-ever Director of Monitoring, and is now hiring internally for additional staff to support the new office.

 

CNCS is transitioning from a 46-office state structure to an eight-office regional structure to position the agency with greater staffing elasticity to provide more consistent and equitable service to the entire country. Due to rising costs of supporting state office spaces – 74% of which have three or fewer people – the new structure will also enable CNCS to keep more staff resources in the field to continue serving grantees, sponsors and communities. The regional offices, with 18-23 employees per region, will also create stronger career ladders for CNCS staff who want to stay and progress their careers with the agency.

  • CNCS will transition to its new organizational roles and regional structure in three phases over the next two years with: the first three regions standing up in September 2019, next three regions standing up in February 2020, and final two regions standing up in June 2020. (See map for regional schedule.) During the transition from state offices to regional offices, organizations will continue to work with their existing program officer(s) and grant officer(s). CNCS staff will continue to support grantees, sponsors, and communities as they do today, which is predominantly by phone, email, and webinar.
  • As part of the transition to the regional structure, CNCS will begin closing its physical state office spaces in three phases between May 1 and July 1, 2019. During this time, CNCS staff in state offices will transition to full-time telework and continue to support grantees, sponsors and communities as they do today. State Program Directors are providing more detail to grantees on this transition, including changes to their contact information, approximately four weeks before each state office’s transition occurs.
  • CNCS continues to support our employees through the transition. CNCS’s transition to new grant management roles and a regional structure creates new opportunities; however, we also recognize the impact it will have on our employees. We are taking several steps to retain our talent and support employees who are impacted by these changes. This includes providing priority hiring to internal staff for 97 percent of the new positions, as well as accelerating the hiring timelines to give employees certainty as soon as possible. In fact, we began the internal hiring process in March 2019, even for regions that won’t stand up until February 2020 or June 2020. We are also offering impacted staff career transition support services. Many of our employees have dedicated their careers to CNCS, and we want to do all we can to encourage them to stay with us and also support them through this change.

 

 

CNCS Regions & Regional Offices
 

TSP - click to view map.

 

What CNCS is Doing & Why are we Doing It

CNCS is creating new ‘Portfolio Manager’ positions responsible for both the programmatic and financial aspects of a grant or project to support the full menu of national service programs. Under CNCS’s current operating model, programs and functions are siloed, but with the new model, grantees and sponsors will work with one person at CNCS for both the programmatic and financial aspects of their grant(s).

What’s Happening Now

CNCS is improving training and business processes. CNCS staff continue to lay the groundwork for success in our realigned organizational structure. Our Business Process Working Group is reviewing our agency’s processes, procedures, and guidance for each phase of the grant and project life cycle to ensure we have standardized, easy-to-use resources to support employees in doing their jobs and providing service to you. Meanwhile, the Training and Development Working Group is reviewing and developing new plans for how we orient staff to CNCS, onboard and train staff for the positions that play key roles in the grant and project life cycle, and continue to develop employees’ skills and experiences over the course of their careers at CNCS. These efforts will parlay into the support, training, and technical assistance we provide you.

Simplifying Who You Work With at CNCS

 

If you are a current or prospective grantee, who do you interact with at CNCS?

CNCS current contact format

What CNCS is Doing & Why are we Doing It

CNCS is establishing a new, centralized Office of Monitoring based at HQ to separate the duties of those who approve grants and provide day-to-day technical assistance, from those who conduct grants compliance testing. The new approach addresses long-standing concerns by the GAO and CNCS Office of Inspector General about weaknesses and potential bias in grant oversight.

What’s Happening Now

CNCS plans to stand up the new office by end of FY19. CNCS has hired its first-ever Director of Monitoring, and is now hiring internally for additional staff to support the new office.

What CNCS is Doing & Why are we Doing It

CNCS is transitioning from a 46-office state structure to an eight-office regional structure to position the agency with greater staffing elasticity to provide more consistent and equitable service to the entire country. Due to rising costs of supporting state office spaces – 74% of which have three or fewer people – the new structure will also enable CNCS to keep more staff resources in the field to continue serving grantees, sponsors and communities. The regional offices, with 18-23 employees per region, will also create stronger career ladders for CNCS staff who want to stay and progress their careers with the agency.

What’s Happening Now

  • CNCS will transition to its new organizational roles and regional structure in three phases over the next two years with: the first three regions standing up in September 2019, next three regions standing up in February 2020, and final two regions standing up in June 2020. (See map for regional schedule.) During the transition from state offices to regional offices, organizations will continue to work with their existing program officer(s) and grant officer(s). CNCS staff will continue to support grantees, sponsors, and communities as they do today, which is predominantly by phone, email, and webinar.
  • As part of the transition to the regional structure, CNCS will begin closing its physical state office spaces in three phases between May 1 and July 1, 2019. During this time, CNCS staff in state offices will transition to full-time telework and continue to support grantees, sponsors and communities as they do today. State Program Directors are providing more detail to grantees on this transition, including changes to their contact information, approximately four weeks before each state office’s transition occurs.
  • CNCS continues to support our employees through the transition. CNCS’s transition to new grant management roles and a regional structure creates new opportunities; however, we also recognize the impact it will have on our employees. We are taking several steps to retain our talent and support employees who are impacted by these changes. This includes providing priority hiring to internal staff for 97 percent of the new positions, as well as accelerating the hiring timelines to give employees certainty as soon as possible. In fact, we began the internal hiring process in March 2019, even for regions that won’t stand up until February 2020 or June 2020. We are also offering impacted staff career transition support services. Many of our employees have dedicated their careers to CNCS, and we want to do all we can to encourage them to stay with us and also support them through this change.

 

CNCS Regions & Regional Offices

Small Clickable Map

 

 

 

Strengthen Our Impact in Communities by Prioritizing Evidence-based Models

Evidence Icon
 

What CNCS is Doing & Why are we Doing It

What’s Happening Now

 

Over time, CNCS seeks to expand the portion of national service interventions that are based on evidence and demonstrated success, while also continuing to support innovative approaches. It is important that CNCS support interventions that effectively utilize our national service resources.

In 2019, 41% of AmeriCorps State and National competitive grant dollars awarded are supporting programs with “strong” or “moderate” levels of evidence, up from 29% in 2017. CNCS intends to develop a long-term roadmap and strategy for helping move programs across its national service streams up the evidence curve.

What CNCS is Doing & Why are we Doing It

Over time, CNCS seeks to expand the portion of national service interventions that are based on evidence and demonstrated success, while also continuing to support innovative approaches. It is important that CNCS support interventions that effectively utilize our national service resources.

What’s Happening Now

In 2019, 41% of AmeriCorps State and National competitive grant dollars awarded are supporting programs with “strong” or “moderate” levels of evidence, up from 29% in 2017. CNCS intends to develop a long-term roadmap and strategy for helping move programs across its national service streams up the evidence curve.

 


Download PDF Version >

 

Large TSP Map

TSP organization chart

Back to Top