The Department of Planning and Development’s Administration of the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund Small Grants Program

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted an audit of the Department of Planning and Development’s (DPD) administration of the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund (NOF) Small Grants program. The objectives of the audit were to determine if DPD:

  1. Selects grantees based on application requirements;
  2. Monitors funded projects for compliance with program requirements; and
  3. Formally measures the NOF Small Grants program’s progress toward defined goals

OIG concluded that DPD adheres to its selection and monitoring procedures, ensuring the NOF Small Grants program awards grants to qualified applicants for approved project costs. However, the Department does not formally measure the program’s progress toward defined goals. This precludes DPD from determining whether the NOF Small Grants program has its intended effect of improving social and economic outcomes.

DPD awarded NOF small grants to eligible applicants and ensured that grantees complied with program requirements. While there is room for improvement, the Department’s grantee selection and project monitoring processes align with best practices by clearly defining program eligibility, measuring applicants against criteria, and ensuring that grantees are reimbursed only for eligible and approved costs.

However, DPD has no specific, documented program goals and does not formally measure program performance. Therefore, it cannot demonstrate whether the program achieves its intended social and economic outcomes. Nor does DPD collect contractually required quarterly reports from its program administrator, which should include performance metrics including the number of jobs retained and created, the number of start-up businesses launched, and the number of vacant commercial units occupied. NOF Small Grants program staff stated that they do not formally measure program performance because they have prioritized completing grantee projects rather than evaluating program outcomes.