Federal Flex Updates: March 2017

March 2017

Of course, the update that’s top of mind for everyone is the Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) Non-Competing Continuation (NCC) that just came out on March 21, 2017. Please read the NCC instructions and go back and review the FY15 guidance if you need a refresher on the different core areas and activity categories in Flex. The Technical Assistance and Service Center (TASC) has the current FY17 instructions as well as the FY15 guidance and updated work plan and new data table templates posted on the Flex Grant Guidance page. 

The team at TASC and your project officers at the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) are all available to help as you finalize your future work plan and write up your performance narrative. Reach out when you have questions or want help considering different alternatives. Also, if you have questions about the NCC instructions, someone else does too—post your questions in the Flex Program Forum so others can learn from them as well. 

A few words about the data table template: I’m sure this format for presenting your outcome data feels unfamiliar because it is new. Keep in mind that this is simply a new format to better organize the outcome measures you’ve been working on for the last two years. It also clarifies that outcome measures should be tracked over time so that you have a three-year project history at the end of the project period. 

In the context of the NCC and the new data table template I’ll revisit the question, What do we mean by impact and outcomes? 

  • Impact refers to the overall effects produced by a program or intervention. What are the positive and negative effects of the project? Another way to say this is to ask, “What changed because we did _____?” 
  • Outcomes are concepts and tools to measure impact. Outcome measures are specific, well-defined questions that use data to track specific changes. Outcome measures help us meet the challenge, “Prove it.” 

At the program level, we link individual outcome measures to targets. Sometimes we undershoot our targets and sometimes we blow them out of the water, but either way, a target helps us know where to aim and lets us understand the amount of change we expect to influence.

Until next time, happy spring! Take a minute to enjoy the flowers as they bloom. 

Sarah Young

Flex Program Coordinator