Last week, the Metro Auditor’s Office published its latest audit report on the Nature in Neighborhoods grant program. With more than $18 million in grant awards since 2006, the program has funded habitat restoration, land acquisition, education, and trails development projects in the Metro area.
The goal of the audit was to check whether the grant program has been well-managed. This is important for Metro taxpayers because, as auditors everywhere emphasize, a well-run program improves accountability and the likelihood that program goals are met.
In their review of Nature in Neighborhoods, Metro auditors found that the program follows some of the best practices for effective management in the grant-making world.
However, they also found that Nature in Neighborhoods could see improvements in some areas, including measuring results and grant monitoring. In particular, the program has assessed the performance of some grants, but does not have a fully developed performance measurement system that can allow managers to evaluate the project’s impact as a whole.
The auditors at Metro offer some great recommendations to improve the grant program. For example, they recommend establishing targets for each of the program’s goals and developing a system of indicators to measure grant outcomes. This may be easier said than done. However, a solid performance measurement system can be a valuable tool for Metro program managers to see where the program is meeting targets and having a positive impact. It can also help identify areas in need of improvement and where Metro’s efforts should be focused.
Read the full audit report on Metro’s website. And if you get tired of reading about audits and best practices for effective grant management (although, why should you be?), check out the cool videos about some of the projects sponsored by the Nature in Neighborhoods program (and watch one below!). The videos certainly inspired this auditor to get up and go for a walk in the forest!