Municipal Alliance Grant

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Robert Roe
Municipal Alliance Grant
What’s On Your Mind?: 

The reporting and paper work required for Municipal Alliance grants has increased greatly in the past few years. By careful planning, the time needed to accomplish this reporting can be reduced, although it is still a time consuming job.

As part of the Local Performance Management Initiative (brought to you by NJDOH Office of Local Public Health and Rutgers Office of Continuing Professional Education), the Maplewood Department of Health used Rutgers’ practical QI approach to improve the way it applies for and manages the annual Municipal Alliance Program grant.

Maplewood is a small health department and the burden of most paperwork tasks falls on the health officer. The Municipal Alliance Program is the responsibility of the health department here. It requiresa lot of paperwork, both as part of the application process and to document how the funds are spent. All this work is very time consuming (taking a few hours of the department’s time each week, on average), which takes time away from other public health work.

The Municipal Alliance Program provides grants for many worthwhile programs, including First Night, Project Graduation and some after school programs. Without its funds, some of these might have to cease. By figuring out ways to automate at least some of this work, we hope to be able to continue to participate in the program but also free up time to work on higher-value public health tasks, including inspections, education, and clinics.

We created a detailed checklist of all the forms and information needed for the required quarterly reports, and we are now using this checklist each quarter to keep track of all the information and documents needed, making the gathering of information easier and making the preparation of these reports less stressful. We also started saving electronic copies of all sections of the grant application and quarterly reports and is using these as templates for filling out future reports, at times being able to cut-paste-edit information from one report to another (rather than starting from scratch), saving time. Finally, we’re keeping track of how much time we spend on Municipal Alliance paperwork, so we can perform a cost benefit analysis to determine if continued participation in the program, given the amount of time the paperwork takes, is worthwhile.

Be realistic in determining the amount of time a task like the Municipal Alliance Program takes. Don’t assume paperwork can be done quickly. Make sure you recognize how much personnel time it is taking you to meet all the requirements (it might be much more than you think!).