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Case Study: Federal government

Federal program evaluation poised to deliver huge ROI

A large federal agency coordinates operations with states to achieve their public service mission. These state coordination programs consist of grants and contracts, under which the states function as an extension of the federal agency’s oversight authority and operate under tightly defined parameters.

With public health and safety at stake, and $100 million per year in funding at play, the agency has prioritized development of a robust process for evaluating return on investment of its contracts and grants disbursements. 

Goal

Evaluate the return on investment (ROI) on $100 million in annual funding to states to help the agency prioritize and optimize funding.

Unconventional consulting—and breakthrough results

Potential ROI for the agency’s coordination programs

Distinct federal program evaluation metrics tailored to the agency’s mission

Strategic recommendations to strengthen collaboration, coordination, and results 

Our starting point

Federal and state coordination efforts hold a prominent position within the federal agency – primarily for how it extends the agency’s capacity to achieve its mission, but also because of its uniquely complex structure. With funding flowing to multiple state and local agencies via both grants and contracts, accessing, organizing, and analyzing the program’s ROI is a monumental undertaking. 

After trying to perform a federal program evaluation in house, the agency engaged Eagle Hill for our analytic expertise. Our consulting team worked to:

Collect and review more than 1,000 datasets and documents, located across nearly 100 different sources. 

Design surveys and interviews and conduct follow-on workshops to build a solid understanding of the challenges the agency faced.

Develop robust evaluation criteria – even for hard-to-quantify intangibles – such as the value of preventing a public crisis.

Build strong partnerships and trust with stakeholders across the agency to gain their buy-in on the proposed way forward.

The roadmap to success

Eagle Hill built our evaluation criteria based on the internationally recognized program evaluation framework from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). We tailored this framework to assess the state coordination programs, with a focus on the agency’s mission to protect the public. We validated our criteria with leadership and continued to refine as we moved through the surveying and interviewing processes.

We designed two surveys to capture the insights of on-the-ground state program SMEs and higher-level agency leadership. To manage the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) requirements, we liaised with leaders of associations representing states, rather than conducting an external stakeholder survey. Based on our initial findings from these efforts, we organized focus groups and conducted interviews with approximately 215 internal and external stakeholders to explore recurring themes. 

The team also collected and analyzed data from more than 1,000 records across nearly 100 sources, including IT systems, narrative reporting, and unstructured data. We folded in our qualitative data to add context to our quantitative analysis and identify areas for additional investigation. 

Based on the quantitative and qualitative information we gathered, we conducted a solid baseline assessment of these state coordination program. This baseline included 30+ KPIs and a directional return on investment analysis that estimated current program impact to have a positive return on investment between 1.6 and 8 times the dollar-for-dollar value.

Eagle Hill identified 10 areas of improvement and 6 priority recommendations that would yield the most impact in the least time. Our final report provided a clear overview of existing pain points, example activities, and expected benefits from our recommendations with a focus on achievable goals to improve the programs efficiency and effectiveness. Most importantly, we included measures of how our recommendations would improve ROI calculations as they were implemented. 

As a result of our work, the agency has already begun implementing our recommendations, positioning them to realize an estimated return on investment of $160 – $800 million or 1.6 to 8x the $100 million in state contracts and grants.

Let’s go to where you want to be

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