Fenty Admin Outlines Success and ongoing work to Improve HIV/AIDS for district Resident
Fenty Administration Outlines Successes and Ongoing Work to Improve HIV/AIDS Programs for District Residents
Today, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Department of Health (DOH) officials outlined some of the long standing issues and inefficiencies within in the HIV/AIDS Hepatitis STD and Tuberculosis Administration (HAHSTA), formerly known as the HIV/AIDS Administration, (HAA), programs before the start of the Fenty Administration. Joined by DOH Director Pierre Vigilance and HAHSTA Director Shannon Hader, the mayor further highlighted steps the health department has undertaken in its effort to successfully reform HAHSTA.
“This administration will not tolerate any kind of waste, fraud or abuse of government resources, particularly the resources that are intended for our more vulnerable populations,” said Fenty. “HAHSTA has taken important steps over the past two years to ensure the accountability of public funding to provide services and will continue to improve the way we serve our residents living with HIV and AIDS.”
An Inherited History of Disorganization and Poor Oversight
Prior to the installation of new leadership at the top of DOH and within HAHSTA, a number of serious organizational problems prevented funding from being used efficiently and effectively. A lack of strategy and proper accounting of funds had created a culture within the agency where grant recipients were not consistently held accountable for their work, making ensuring that essential services were reaching residents in need more difficult to track.
These organizational problems include:
Incomplete and non-standardized methods for tracking grant funding.
No standard training and consistent processes for grant staff preventing a standard method for evaluating the success of a grant.
Poorly defined and irregularly measured goals for grant recipients, which created a lack of accountability during the grant evaluation process.
Confusing processes for clients that made finding a full spectrum of resources more difficult.
Housing assistance funds were not being used for housing assistance programs.
Lack of outreach to residents in need of housing assistance.
Not paying HIV/AIDS organizations on time even, though the funding existed.
“Assuring our residents living with HIV and AIDS have access to high-quality care provided by agencies that are being held accountable is paramount to the success of our work,” said Vigilance. “Residents depend on us to connect them with the services they need to lead healthy and productive lives and we will continue to work to improve the way those services are provided and funded.”
Two Years of Steady Improvement
Starting in 2007, the Fenty Administration began making significant improvements to the way the government handles HIV/AIDS grants and programs. These improvements allow HAHSTA to ensure that funds are being used well and for their intended purpose. HAHSTA has also worked to simplify the way residents interact with HAHSTA-funded programs and access resources. HAHSTA has also continued to only give obligated funds to organizations with proof that services have actually been provided.
Systematic improvements to funding allocations and services include:
Funding for organizations is now contingent on fiscal and program performance reviews and is no longer guaranteed to organizations without oversight.
Changing agency leadership personnel to approach systemic issues from a new perspective and a newly named housing manager who brings critical skills and experience.
Standardizing the grant process through uniform training of staff, a new Corrective Action Plan process with specific timelines, a new grant monitoring manual and a competitive Request For Application process driven by data.
The creation of an Agency Capacity Assessment to rate basic operations of grantees.
Establishing a single point of payment (down from 11 different organizations) for rental assistance, improving service and understanding for residents and allowing more funds to go directly to housing.
Clients are now able to directly apply for programs.
Enhancing and proactively utilizing a wait list for housing assistance with a new tracking system for emergency and long-term housing requests.
HAHSTA now conducts outreach to residents on the waiting list so they can be connected to other support services regardless of voucher status.
Nearly all federal housing funds are now used for rent and emergency housing instead of capital improvements, job training or day programs.
90% of all invoices are now paid within 30 days.
“In the last two years, we have made great improvements to the way we serve District residents,” said Hader. “Our system for delivering services and funding organizations cannot be called perfect, but we continue to work diligently to build upon the improvements we’ve already made.”
Raising the Bar: Continuing Improvements
HAHSTA is still working to improve methods for holding organizations accountable and ensuring that services are delivered to residents as planned.
Among the many steps being taken to improve its systems, HAHSTA is:
Developing more detailed quality assurance measures at the client level for routine monitoring.
Building a new data system to allow HAHSTA to make strategic decisions about funding and respond rapidly to changes in client needs.
Working with HIV/AIDS organizations to leverage additional funding not specifically related to HIV/AIDS. This allows organizations to expand services without relying solely on limited federal HIV/AIDS funds.
Working to improve customer service at all levels of providers including housing and healthcare.
Continuing to improve communications with residents about available housing to help set expectations and eliminate confusion.
Strengthening capacity-building programs within community organizations, such as the Effi Barry Program and providing technical assistance for housing agencies.
Leveraging additional housing resources, such as Housing First, coordinating and streamlining housing listings through DHCD Recovery Act funds for homeless housing.
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For more info: http://doh.dc.gov/doh/cwp/view,a,1370,q,604320.asp