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Has Treasury put together a list of evidence-based practices (“EBPs”) for use of CSLFRF that it affirmatively approves? How should a municipality articulate that a proposed project is an EBP and tailor an EBP to its local community and circumstances?

The U.S. Department of the Treasury (“Treasury”) issued its Final Rule on the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARP”) Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (“CSLFRF”) program on January 6, 2022,[1] and published its Compliance and Reporting Guidance on February 28, 2022.[2] EBPs are interventions with strong or moderate levels of evidence. Under the Final Rule, a recipient may use CSLFRF funds for EBPs, provided that the recipient reports on their use of the funds.[3] Treasury further notes that recipients are likely exempt from reporting on EBPs in cases where a program evaluation is being conducted in accordance with the standards under OMB M-20-12.[4] Finally, Treasury generally does not review or approve EBPs prior to implementation.[5]

Part 1: Has Treasury put together a list of EBPs for use of CSLFRF that it affirmatively approves?

Treasury has identified the following non-exhaustive list of EBPs as eligible uses of CSLFRF funding:

  • Violence Prevention Projects: Focused deterrence, street outreach, violence interrupters, and hospital-based violence intervention models, complete with wraparound services such as behavioral therapy, trauma recovery, job training, education, housing and relocation services, and financial assistance;[6]
  • Student Needs: Services to address the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of students;[7]
  • Improved Outcomes: Program evaluation and evidence resources to support building and using evidence to improve outcomes;
  • Public Health Policy-Making and Program Performance Tracking: Data analysis resources to gather, assess, and use data for effective policy-making and real-time tracking of program performance to support effective implementation of [CSLFRF]-funded programs and programs that respond to the public health emergency;
  • Government Information Technology Systems: Technology infrastructure resources to improve access to and the user-experience of government information technology systems;
  • Information Sharing: Community outreach and engagement resources to support the gathering and sharing of information in ways that improve equity and effective implementation of [CSLFRF]-funded programs and programs that respond to the public health emergency; and
  • Designing, Executing, and Evaluating Programs: Capacity building resources to support using data and evidence in designing, executing, and evaluating programs.[8]

Treasury encourages recipients that implement EBPs to use evidence clearinghouses to assist with evidence assessment. Such evidence clearinghouses include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse;
  • U.S. Department of Labor’s CLEAR;
  • U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Childcare & Early Education Research Connections and the Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness; and
  • Clearinghouses from the Administration for Children and Families.[9]

Part 2: How should a municipality articulate its position that a proposed project is an EBP?

Treasury permits, but does not require, recipients to use EBPs in CSLFRF-funded programs and/or activities. Treasury generally does not review whether a proposed project is an EBP. Instead, Treasury may require recipients to participate in a national evaluation, which would study their project along with similar projects in other jurisdictions focused on the same set of outcomes.[10]

Treasury also requires “states, territories, metropolitan cities, and counties with a population that exceeds 250,000 residents” to produce, publish, and submit a Recovery Plan Performance Report (“Recovery Plan”) that:

  • Identifies whether [CSLFRF] funds are being used for evidence-based interventions and/or if projects are being evaluated through rigorous program evaluations that are designed to build evidence;
  • Describes the goals of the project, and the evidence base for the interventions funded by the project; and
  • Identifies the dollar amount of the total project spending that is allocated towards evidence-based interventions for each project.[11]

Part 3: How can a municipality tailor an EBP to its local community and circumstances?

Recipients have flexibility to implement EBPs to support CSLFRF-funded programs. Treasury generally does not require a recipient to justify the recipient’s determination that a proposed project is an EBP. Treasury does, however, define evidence-based interventions (in particular regarding educational services) as interventions with “strong or moderate” evidence. Treasury provides the following guidance to assist recipients in determining whether their evidence is strong, moderate, or preliminary:

Strong evidence means that the evidence base can support causal conclusions for the specific program proposed by the applicant with the highest level of confidence. This consists of one or more well-designed and well-implemented experimental studies conducted on the proposed program with positive findings on one or more intended outcomes.

Moderate evidence means that there is a reasonably developed evidence base that can support causal conclusions. The evidence base consists of one or more quasi-experimental studies with positive findings on one or more intended outcomes OR two or more non-experimental studies with positive findings on one or more intended outcomes…

Preliminary evidence means that the evidence base can support conclusions about the program’s contribution to observed outcomes. The evidence base consists of at least one non-experimental study. A study that demonstrates improvement in program beneficiaries over time on one or more intended outcomes OR an implementation (process evaluation) study used to learn and improve program operations would constitute preliminary evidence.[12]

Last Updated: April 12, 2022

[1] Treas. Reg. 31 CFR Part 35, available at: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/SLFRF-Final-Rule.pdf.

[2] U.S. Department of the Treasury, Compliance and Reporting Guidance: State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (Revised February 28, 2022), available at: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/SLFRF-Compliance-and-Reporting-Guidance.pdf.

[3] Id., at 31.

[4] Id.; see also Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget, Memorandum for Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies regarding Phase 4 Implementation of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018: Program Evaluation Standards & Practices, available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/M-20-12.pdf.

[5] Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, Frequently Asked Questions (as of January 2022) – FAQ #4.5, at 20, available at: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/SLFRPFAQ.pdf.

[6] Treas. Reg. 31 CFR Part 35, at 71, available at: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/SLFRF-Final-Rule.pdf.

[7] Id., at 80.

[8] Id., at 187-189.

[9] Department of Treasury, Compliance and Reporting Guidance: State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (Revised February 28, 2022), at 31, available at: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/SLFRF-Compliance-and-Reporting-Guidance.pdf.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] Id., at 40.