Victim Compensation - Writing a Comprehensive Annual Report
This OVC webinar provides guidance for VOCA Victim Compensation Grantees on how to use the performance measure data entered into the Performance Measurement Tool (PMT) to inform the annual report.
During the webinar, members of the OVC’s performance measurement team provide information on the annual reporting questions and explore each question and what responses should entail.
The team also highlights how a clear and concise annual report can tell the story of the qualitative data and the grant activities completed by grantees.
View the webinar presentation.
Tina Dimachkieh: Hello, everyone, and thank you for joining us for the VOCA Victim Compensation Writing a Comprehensive Annual Report Training. I'm Tina Dimachkieh. I'm a Training and Technical Assistance Specialist. I provide contractor support to OVC as part of the Performance Management team, where we provide support to all OVC grantees around performance management and performance measures.
During today's session, we will be focusing on annual reporting for Victim Compensation grantees.
During the session, we're going to discuss why annual reports are important to you as grantees and also to OVC. We will review the annual reporting process in the Performance Measurement Tool, in the PMT, and then we will spend the bulk of our time examining the annual reporting questions, each question individually, and looking at comprehensive responses and what those should look like. At the end of our session, I will provide some resources and contact information, as well.
To begin, how are annual reports used, and why are they important, and why should our grantees focus on providing a comprehensive response to OVC when producing their annual reports at the end of the year?
As a grantee, it is really important to be looking at your narrative questions throughout the entire year. The narrative questions are asked of our grantees on an annual basis at the end of the year. They are due by December 30 of every year. However, they encompass data or activity from the start of the award, start of the fiscal year, until the end of the award year, and end of the fiscal year. That is between October 1 and September 30.
So, it's really important when responding to the annual narrative questions that you think of the entire year. The best way to do that is to keep in mind these questions, not only when December comes around or that last reporting period comes around, but throughout the entire year. And just reflect as to what happened over the year and learn as you go through the different quarters what really has taken place across the data.
If there are any increases or decreases that are being seen, any number fluctuations that are being seen across the applications in the data that you are collecting, and how you can reflect on that and learn from it as you move forward into the next year. So, it's really important.
If you don't focus on the annual reports, you wouldn't be able to have any lessons learned to move into the next fiscal year and make any changes.
When focusing on annual reports, you also can analyze the data and explore any trends that you are seeing within your state around victim compensation and victim services. You can identify staffing needs. You can identify any successes and challenges and any changes that need to take place, whether it's within the program or at the state level.
And through completing and focusing on these questions that are designed for Victim Compensation grantees, you can also use that knowledge to share information with leadership, share any realizations or any new ideas with leadership and with stakeholders and also with the public, and make any changes on the programmatic level, on the administrative level, or even on the fiscal level, as well.
As for OVC and for your Grant Managers, having a comprehensive annual report is really important because it helps your Grant Managers in really understanding what's going on at the state level and at the local level, as well, around Victim Compensation services and funding. Your Grant Managers are looking at the national overview, and they're not really in the day-to-day activities of your state.
So, having an annual report that is informative and comprehensive will really assist your Grant Managers in really understanding what is happening at your state and also be able to evaluate any future needs through your state at the national level across the country and be able to form connections across states and really identify certain trends across the Nation.
Having a comprehensive annual report also helps explain the data to your Grant Managers and explain any fluctuation in the data and better be able to support your state and the data that you've provided based on the explanations you're providing. It also will help explain any challenges that you've encountered, any accomplishments, any changes that took place within your organization or within your state, and inform your Grant Managers of any decisions that are coming up at the federal level. This also will help your Grant Managers advocate for additional funding, where needed, for your state, but also for the compensation program in general at OVC.
So, as you can see, there's a lot that comes from having a comprehensive annual report, but also there's a lot that would be hindered by providing a very simple response or a basic response or a yes or a no where you should be providing additional information and elaborating on those responses.
So, the performance measure data, Victim Compensation grantees collect data on the three items that you see on the screen, here, the population demographics, performance measures, and payment statistics by crime type. This is the data that you can then translate into a narrative and you can speak to and you can use to really explain your story and your state's story for your program to OVC. You can use the numbers to focus on any successes and challenges, and speak directly to those.
You can speak about new initiatives, and projects, and deliverables, and resources that have taken place throughout the year, and back these projects up with this data that you've been collecting over the four quarters. And as I said before, focus on any increases or decreases that you've seen across the quarters with the numbers. And then also provide highlights that your Grant Manager and OVC would not have access to if you hadn't shared from your community or across your state.
So, in order to have an impactful annual report and in order to be able to really paint a story for your Grant Manager, you should be describing adverse conditions that have affected the goals and objectives of your award throughout the year. You should also be describing any significant outreach efforts and how you've been able to publicize to the communities in your state and at the local level and raise awareness around victim services and available services within your compensation program.
You can also indicate the status of your goals and objectives and really share and be transparent with OVC and explain if there are any unmet needs, if you are on track or not fiscally and programmatically to complete your goals, and if you need any assistance from OVC.
You can also highlight any collaborative work that you've done, the work you've done with your multidisciplinary partners or any success stories across your organization and other partners, and also, again, highlighting the increases and decreases in services as it relates to the numbers that you've collected at the quarterly level.
So, let's talk a little bit about some tips and tricks in the PMT system.
And before we dive right into tips and tricks, I do want to let you know that we have connected with Grant Managers to really get their feedback around the narrative responses that they've received, whether it's issues or challenges that they've seen in the responses and how they can really relay that information to you so you can provide a comprehensive response. And these are the different tips and tricks that we put together based on their feedback.
So, the annual report, as I said, covers grant activity for the entire federal funding year or federal fiscal year. That is starting October 1 and ending on September 30. So, there are four quarters, quarter 1 through quarter 4.
When you're writing out your responses for your narrative, you should be as descriptive as possible. So, if there is a certain quarter that you are referring to, include that quarter. Don't speak for the entire year, but focus on that quarter. Focus on the data. If you're doing any comparisons between prior years, be sure to identify what years they are.
If you're referring to an organization that you've worked with in partnerships or collaboration, be sure to list out who those organizations are.
So, language is very important, and being descriptive is very important to help your Grant Manager understand the work that you're doing and understand the story that you are trying to tell. As you see in the example, here, "In Fiscal Year 2022, quarters 3 and 4, organization X completed..." This is the language that we're looking for.
You can certainly abbreviate. I will speak to the character limit in a moment, but you can put, "FY22." For quarter, you can list it as, "Q3, Q4," to try and save some space within your response.
Be sure to avoid using first-person pronouns. You are speaking on behalf of your organization, and you're speaking on behalf of the work that your organization has done for your OVC award. You are not writing from the first-person's point of view as one staff member.
These reports should be completed at the organization level, and there should be a team that's completing these reports together. It should never fall on one team member to complete these reports. So, saying, "I or we," we highly discourage grantees from doing that, and focusing on the organization and the work that you're doing while avoiding the first-person pronouns.
Again, be specific and concrete with your examples in pulling from the PMT data. And reference specific questions and specific responses and quarters. To speak to the character limit, your responses have to be 5,000 characters. That's the answer field in the PMT. This is the character limit that's in the system. This includes spaces as well, so be mindful of that.
We encourage grantees to start a Word document and type out your responses in the Word document in plain text. And then when you're ready to finalize your response, and you've had it reviewed by your team members, and people have contributed to the response, then you can finalize it and copy and paste it directly into the answer field. And making sure that you are adhering to the 5,000 character limit.
Having the Word document, a running Word document throughout the year, and responding to the questions throughout the year or at least making some bullet points and some notes about what's going on in the year will be very helpful instead of trying to remember everything that took place when December comes around. So, do try that out.
Have a document started and add to it as you see any highlights or if you hear stories from your staff members, things that you think would be important to include in the narrative responses.
If you are working directly in the PMT, be sure to frequently save your responses. The system times out after 30 minutes of inactivity. So, if you were to, you're working on a response, and you go into a different program to get some additional information, and you go back without saving your responses, you could lose all the data and the responses that you've already entered into the system. Or if you move across tabs in the system without saving, you will lose your response. Every question needs an answer. The system will not let you submit your annual report without providing a response to every question.
So, yes, you need to complete the entire report in order to be able to submit. And no, N/A, or none, or not applicable are not an acceptable answer. These 12 questions for our compensation grantees have been designed specifically for our compensation grantees. So, no question should be not applicable to your program, or to your state, and your organization. And you should be able to provide a response to all the questions.
We will talk in greater detail when you look at these questions about where or when there is no response, or you don't have the right response to provide, and what to do in that case. Be sure not to include any personally identifiable information in your report. These reports are going to OVC, and when they do include a great deal of detail and then when they are comprehensive, we want to make sure that we are not exposing anyone's identity when reading or producing a report.
So, personally identifiable information does not only mean a name and a Social Security number. It could be a list of other information that you could provide that could be compiled to identify an individual. So, please be mindful of that. If you are telling a client's story or a success story, be sure to redact any information that could identify a specific individual. Be sure that your narrative responses do not exceed the character limit. This is one thing that we have seen a lot, where if you copy and paste from a Word document, like that tip I gave you in the previous slide, and you don't adhere to the character limit, the system will not include your entire response.
So, let's say you have 6,000 characters in your response, and it's a wonderful response. It's very informative, and you know your Grant Manager will appreciate it, but you paste it in the answer field, and now half of it is cut off. And your Grant Manager does not get the information you're trying to share with them. The system will not notify you that you've exceeded the limit, and you would just be submitting a report that's really incomplete and missing half of the paragraph that you've tried to write. So, be sure to check on that character limit before you submit and make sure that you've adhered to it. Be sure not to include any hyperlinks to news or media articles. These do expire and sometimes require registration or subscriptions to be able to open and view them. Instead you can just summarize the article that you're referring to. Make sure that you list where it can be found. And then your Grant Manager, if they do need to look it up, they can do so based on the information you provided and not a link that may expire.
So, let's talk a little bit about a few things to consider when developing your responses and producing an annual report. Be sure to focus on major accomplishments that were achieved over the entire past year. So, again, having a notebook or having a Word document running throughout the different quarters of the fiscal year will be very helpful so you don't forget what happened over the entire year that you need to speak to.
Talk about any areas of opportunity that you've identified based on the data or based on your work within your program that you can speak to and share with OVC. Think of any areas of opportunities where you think at the federal level OVC can assist you, as well, and provide technical assistance. Any changes that occurred in your organization, any changes that have occurred in your state or at the local level for any of your communities that would affect the Victim Compensation program and award deliverables should also be mentioned.
You should also be thinking of that quantitative piece, the performance measures. Those are also designed to Victim Compensation or for Victim Compensation grantees. So, those are something that you can pull from when you are not sure where to start with your narrative response and how to make it more comprehensive. Start with the data. Start with reviewing the different quarters and seeing where does the data look either like it went up, or it went down, or even if it stayed the same. There's sometimes reasons for why certain numbers are not moving up or down for a good reason or a bad reason.
Being honest and transparent and sharing that information will go a long way. And then if there are any significant changes that took place regarding the application process, that is something that you need to highlight for OVC, as well. All right, so we are going to dive into the annual reporting questions.
We're, again, going to go through all the questions, 1 through 12. I have grouped them into different topics, so we will be looking at them through different topics as we go through. And then I will be providing some examples, and we'll talk through those examples, recycle those examples, or learn from them, or understand what is comprehensive about them, or not comprehensive, in some cases. So, the first topic is around the quantitative data, and that is for questions 1 and 2.
Question 1 asks the grantee to explain any significant change in the number of applications received during the reporting period. And then number 2 asks for the average length of time to process an application for claim eligibility for compensation.
Question 2 does have two sub-questions within it, one asking the grantee to count the days from the time of receipt of application to decision day, and then to explain the state's procedure for processing an application from time of receipt to decision. Looking at question 1, explaining any significant change in the number of applications.
So, this is where you are going back. You're going back throughout the entire year and looking at the different quarters, 1 through 4. But you're also going back to prior years where your Victim Compensation program submitted data for. And you're seeing, you're looking for any significant changes, whether they're increases or decreases across the different years.
Grantees should ensure that their response includes quantitative information about the changes in the applications received, whether it's around the number of applications, the different crime types that have shifted around, or the victim population that they've collected demographics on, and any causes that are driving these changes. Whether there's a certain crime in the state that has gone up or whether there's a certain population that has experienced anything notable over the past year that led to an increase in applications within that specific demographic.
So, in addition to listing out the changes that you've seen in the data, explaining to OVC what you think the root causes are for those changes, because again, you are the one working in your state, and your Grant Manager may be unfamiliar with certain things that have taken place in your state. And sharing that and explaining to OVC that information will help them identify future needs for assistance or assistance needs. Also, you should ensure that the response describes the cause behind these increases and decreases in the length of service or in the length of time to process the claim. That's important as well, and that could be a success or also an opportunity for improvement in that length of time. Here's an example, a comprehensive example that includes a lot of information and a lot of data.
So, as you see, the grantee, here, explains that they experienced a percentage of increase in the number of new applications. They compare the different fiscal years. They go back three fiscal years. So, they're looking at FY 2021, 2020, and 2019. They also then explain that the increase during the year that they're reporting on was due to COVID-19 and related to stay-at-home orders being lifted. And then they also try to explain why they saw that or why they saw that increase, but for what reason. And specifically it was due to a specific crime, which is homicides, that had increased in the fiscal year they're reporting on compared to the year prior. So, again, this example does check off all the comprehensive boxes where it speaks to the data. It shows a percentage of whether the data went up or down. It compares data across different fiscal years. And then it explains why the grantee believes that shift in the data took place. And it also explains if there was any certain crimes that have shifted or increased or decreased that they have been able to speak to within their state.
Now, question 2. For question 2, which is around the average length of time for the process and also explaining the process for application. Grantees should ensure that their response provides enough information for the reader to have a general understanding of the program's claims process. For this specifically, I do want to highlight that copying and pasting from last year's annual report or a previous annual report is not, should not be acceptable. So, please try not to copy and paste.
And yes, I do understand that some grantees can argue that, well, the process has not changed much. We've been doing it this way for a couple of years now, and this response will remain the same. I challenge you to look at that response and see how you can make it more informative or how you can explain to your Grant Manager in different words how that process has changed or has remained the same and why.
Copying and pasting responses over the year, or over the years, for your program is not, isn't really a great tool to be using because there has to be something that's changed, or there has to be a reason why things have stayed the same. And it is worth noting to OVC that information. You should also ensure that you summarize the process for receipt of applications.
Summarize information gathering, coordination with other partners, and eligibility determination, expense payments, and recovery efforts. You really should touch on all of those items and anything else that your state does for the Victim Compensation applications and that process.
Here's an example of a grantee that provided information on the process from start to finish. And that really, as you see, is from the start of receiving an application, going through the amount of days that their process requires, and then what happens after those days have elapsed, all the way to the final decision explaining to OVC from start to finish how their process looks. And then your Grant Manager can ask questions about certain stages in that process if they need to, but they can also make connections and link the dots between your state and other states and see if any other state needs any support or would benefit from learning about your process and connecting you with other Victim Compensation programs so you can work together. So, the second topic is surveys and outreach.
Those are for question 3 and 10. Question 3 is straightforward. It asks if your state has a, or if your state has a victim satisfaction survey. The response is a yes or no. If you select no, then you would just move on to the next question. If you select yes, you have to answer B through D. And B through D are just numerical responses, asking about the number of satisfaction surveys distributed, the number of surveys completed, and then the number of surveys that indicated satisfaction with the program.
So, let's move on to number 10. Number 10 asks to explain any public outreach efforts to improve awareness of your program. So, for question 10, grantees are encouraged to fully describe the topic, the format, and the frequency of the efforts. So, describing the topic, whether the topic was around a specific crime, targeting a specific demographic, targeting a specific community, or speaking to a specific service within your Victim Compensation program.
The format being, was it a flyer that you used to provide outreach and raise awareness? Was it a billboard? Was it an advertisement on the radio? Was it within schools? Sending out a trainer? And the frequency of the effort, how many flyers were distributed? How many times did the commercial run on whether it's on local television or on the radio? Explaining all this information is really helpful, and it's very easy to not include this.
So, let's say a grantee wants to answer this question, and the question says, "Please explain any public outreach efforts to improve awareness for your program." You can say, "We provided flyers." Yes, you did answer the question. However, that is not a comprehensive response, and that does not provide OVC with the necessary information to understand the work that you did and to really show the incredible work that you are doing and the awareness that you are raising. Here are a few examples of responses that we have received. So, these responses speak to training provided, and they speak to the need, or the lack of providing in-person resources, and how there was a need for online training.
What I like about the first response, example 1, is that the grantee does speak to the, responds to the question, but also provides information about what's coming in the next year. They say, if you see at the last sentence, here, they say, "We are also getting ready to send out our first quarterly newsletter to all advocates." I love that they've included this in here. This is a highlight that they wanted to share. This is something that their Grant Manager would be excited to hear more about when that comes out and would be excited to get a copy of, if possible, when that comes out. So, they really are just highlighting the work that they're doing or that they are doing and ensuring that their Grant Manager hears of this work.
The second response is also one that I appreciated, and mostly I appreciated it for a specific, aside from it being comprehensive, there is one specific thing I wanted to highlight, and that was also the last sentence, for example 2, saying, "The announcement was."
I'll read the one before it first, "The State Compensation program issued a public service announcement about the Victim Compensation program to coincide with National Crime Victims' Rights Week. The announcement was issued in English and in Spanish for distribution to radio stations throughout the state."
This is fantastic. They did not need to provide this level of detail, but this is what a comprehensive response looks like. They explained that they provided, or the announcement was issued in two languages. They explained where exactly it was issued, and they just provided a greater level of detail to their Grant Manager. So, as you can see, they could have just said, "Yes, we provided announcements on the radio." That's a response, and they answered the question, but that's not as informative and as exciting as sharing their work and their hard work with their Grant Manager and explaining what they're doing within their program.
The next topic is around impact, and this focuses on questions 4 and 8. Question 4 asks the grantee to describe any emerging major issues or notable trends that were encountered in your state that had an impact on your program's ability to meet the needs of crime victims during the reporting period. And then the next one asks if there were any laws, initiatives, or policy changes in your state regarding victim compensation during the reporting period, and if yes, please briefly describe them and their impact.
So, for question 8, I wanted to highlight a notable trend that, an example of a notable trend that was provided. And I really do like this example, as well, because it really is comprehensive. It speaks to the data, where it highlights the number of applications, and then it compares data across fiscal years.
As you see, here, during the reporting period, state compensation program received an additional X amount of applications from compensation or for compensation compared to FY 2020. It also explains why they believe that the number of applications received or referred by the community-based victim services programs increased. And then they speak to their own work and how they were able to assist in this increase by providing training and outreach to the service providers and showing that as a result, the increase in applications took place from the specific service providers or the program clients.
So, that's really fantastic because they really are painting a picture to OVC of what exactly happened and why these numbers went up and specifically what program did the increase come from. So, they really are looking at the data, and they are analyzing their data to speak to notable trends. For this question, I do also want to make sure that our grantees know that notable trends are great. They could be good or bad. It could be a trend that presents some challenges in the state. That's okay.
These questions are not meant to be just highlighting and bragging the great work. They also should be transparent in explaining the challenges and the issues, And specifically this question, it asks about major issues. If there are issues within the program, issues within the organization that are causing some problems for application processes or issues at the state level that you think are impacting your program's ability to meet the needs of crime victims during the reporting period, you should be speaking to that.
This report, these annual reports are not, they're not meant to just showcase incredible work. They're meant to really just be honest with OVC in explaining what's going on, so OVC can be aware, and so OVC can assist grantees where they can, and provide additional assistance to help prevent any major issues from continuing, or figuring out how to connect them with certain states to work together in focusing on certain issues.
So, let's look at question 8. This is the one asking about laws, initiatives, and policies changes, and if there were any, if they had any impact on the Victim Compensation program. Again, saying no or not applicable or there were no changes, even though yes, you are answering the question, that should never be the response. There are so many different things that you can speak to within this question. And you can also speak to the lack of any changes instead of just saying yes or no. Grantees should ensure that this response summarizes any laws, initiatives, or policy changes.
You should not be copying and pasting the legal language directly from the law or the initiative or the change that took place. You should be summarizing so your Grant Managers can really understand what this change means to your state and additional information about it, like the timeframe that it took place in and what that does moving forward and any implications that it'll have in the future. It's important to include the effective dates and specific citations so that the law or regulation can be reviewed or found by your Grant Manager if they need to learn more or find out more about the specific change that you're referring to.
You should also describe any agency efforts to inform the victims or the field about the changes to, or the new laws or changes in policies. This example, here, really does focus on explaining what changes took place. There are two different changes that took place, one for this grantee. One pertains to sexual assault and human trafficking, and the other one pertains to domestic violence. And so they explained both of them. They explained what was happening previously, and then what happened moving forward when these changes were put into effect and how that affects their Victim Compensation program. Again, it looks lengthy, but it does have a lot of information. And you can see how much more this type of response is appreciated versus saying, "Yes, we had two initiatives. One was sexual assault, and one was VC, and those were the changes." Now looking at the next topic, which is improvements, that one focuses on questions 6 and 7.
Question 6 asks the grantee to describe any notable activities during the reporting period that improve the process of Victim Compensation services.
And then question 7 asks to describe in great detail or in detail ways in which your state used VOCA Administrative funds and the impact of these funds on the state's ability to improve Victim Compensation services during the reporting period.
And these two questions are pretty straightforward in what they're asking, but I will also say it's important to also respond to them even if there was no notable activity and even if there was no state, or no VOCA administrative funds, used that impacted the compensation program. So, when you're thinking of these questions, and when you're trying to produce a response, you should be thinking of, okay, if my response is no, I need to explain why that, or if my response is N/A, or not applicable, or does not pertain to my program right now, then you should be able to provide a reason as to why there is a no.
You should be honest in your response, and you should be transparent in explaining there were no notable activities. We are having staffing issues. We are having organizational internal issues. Or something's happening in our state, where we could not focus on any specific activities, and we were just trying to get through applications. Or we are having some difficulty connecting with our VOCA administrators or Victim Assistance VOCA SAAs. And we're having some challenges in our partnership with them. You should be explaining all that information to OVC. Having N/A for either of these questions or saying none or not at this time is not an acceptable response. So, here's an example for question 6 for notable activities.
And I like this example because it says that, it speaks to what the program has done in the past, "Continues to improve the online submission and applications for victims and their family members. As indicated in past reports, victims are able to submit their application online. Those applications are received within minutes," and then go on to explaining what has happened in the past. Again, do not copy and paste.
You should be able to speak to anything new that is happening. So, if notable activities happened in 2019, they should not be the same responses in 2020, and 2021, and 2022. But what I like about this response is that they summarize what has happened in the past, and they summarize what they're working on. But then at the bottom, you'll see, "Additionally, the program is getting ready to release its first newsletter." This is similar to where they've provided this information for a different question. But again, they are sharing additional information that has not taken place yet but that they are excited about. And they want to show their Grant Manager the work that they're doing, and now their Grant Manager can reach out and ask for some more information down the road when those newsletters become available.
For question 7, here, is an example that explains that the VOCA Administrative funds pay for a portion of staff salaries. They also explain that they use the funds to send staff to training throughout the state and to conferences and other summits. They also explain why they're sending their staff to these trainings, and they speak to what the trainings are for. As you see at the bottom, "Expands staff knowledge of victimization, trauma-informed victim services, and victim advocacy."
Again, these are great responses, but if there is, if a state was unable to use any VOCA Administrative funds, or if there were any barriers or issues presented, you should be able to provide an explanation to those in this response, as well. None of the questions in the report are only intended for successes and highlights and improvements. If there are any challenges or opportunities or barriers, those should be highlighted to OVC, as well.
The next one is coordination efforts, and this is question 9, only. There's only one question around coordination, and it asks the grantee to describe system coordination efforts with prosecutors, law enforcement, courts, U.S. attorneys' offices, Tribal systems, state VOCA victim assistance coordinator, and other key personnel within the criminal justice system in your state to reduce barriers to victims who may apply to receive victim compensation. For this question, grantees, or for this response, grantees you should make sure that the response focuses on specific activities that were initiated or conducted during the reporting period.
Do not speak only of general collaborative efforts. This can include specific presentations, or resource tools developed, and any working groups that have been created. I want to highlight not speaking to any general collaborative efforts. It is very easy to respond to this question saying, "Yes, we continue to promote our MOU with our law enforcement agency that was signed in 2018." That is not a collaborative effort. That is not something that you coordinated on. That is an MOU that was signed, and that is great. However, that does not speak to any efforts that took place within the reporting period, so over the specific year you are speaking to or speaking about, and that does not specify a specific item that happened that took place.
Another example not to include would be quarterly meetings. Let's say there's been an understanding where quarterly meetings happen across partners within your community, and you attend those meetings every quarter, but there's only one person that shows up. And this is just what you do, and then you send a thank-you email afterwards. That's not a coordination effort. That is not something that you should be highlighting here.
What you could highlight is the barriers you're having around that coordination effort and saying, "We are not having a high attendance. We are having issues. We are trying to produce some resources. Maybe that will help raise awareness and raise attendance at our quarterly partnership meetings." That should be what your response should look like. Another thing that should be included in a response is any feedback from coordination efforts and how they've impacted your agency's process.
So, if you've received feedback from a partner around the way a specific application was handled, whether it was great feedback or room for improvement, you should be including that and including what took place after that feedback was received and what you did, what efforts were done to either continue something that was done well or look for some improvements in something that presented a challenge.
Here are two responses, two examples to this question. And again, the first one is actually highlighting what not to do. So, as you see, here, "The State Compensation program has excellent working relationships with all the above mentioned partners. The program is consistently offering education and assistance to our partners," and just goes on about the wonderful work that they are consistently doing.
That is not helpful because that just looks great on paper, but is that really accurate? Is that transparent and honest of a response that you're providing to OVC? Or is it just making sure that everything looks perfect at the surface? The next one includes more information, talks about working closely with their partners and getting crime information when necessary and talking about court proceedings and just working together. But also I feel like this one, there's a lot of room for improvement.
So, you should see, here, at the bottom it says, "that the staff also teaches a 4-hour program at municipal and state police department training academies." What could make this a lot more comprehensive is including what trainings took place during the fiscal year or, yes, during the annual reporting period. So, that's great that you provide training. However, you could list that the program provided four different trainings during these months, and this many people attended, and this was the outcome. We provided surveys, or we shared this flyer as a resource. And here is a specific story of a police officer that received that flyer and was able to direct a victim to our services based on the flyer that they received. That's a fantastic success story that you could share about a coordination effort that took place, where it was informative. You included information. You provided details about the different trainings that have taken place.
And OVC has all the information that they need that they can reach back out to you to ask you to speak to that success story some more or ask for additional information around that. So, now we are approaching the last set of, or the last, yeah, set of questions. They don't have a topic associated with them because they're each an independent question, but I've listed them all under additional questions. Those are questions 5, 11, and 12. Question 5 asks to describe in detail efforts taken to serve victims of federal crime during the reporting period. And we will speak to that in a moment.
Question 11 asks grantees to list any other outcome measures that are reported to the governor, legislature, or other state entity that has not been reported in this submission. Provide actual measures. Data may be reported separately in your progress reports. And then we have question 12, which just asks for additional comments that may be helpful to improve the Victim Compensation program at the state or federal level. So, we will look at question 5, and this is the one that asks about efforts taken to serve victims of federal crime. This response, though it's a good response, it could be a lot more comprehensive.
This response also could seem like it was copied and pasted across years. I will read it. It states that, "the program has had an exceptional working relationship with the FBI, victim specialists, and U.S. attorneys' office victim specialists for several years." "If the compensation program receives an application that indicates a federal crime, staff will contact the victim advocate," and just goes on about explaining how the process works, which is great. It's important to include that information. However, it doesn't speak to specific efforts that took place during this reporting period.
A better example would be, or a better response would be, if you provided, if you spoke to a specific case, again, redacting any information that could identify the victim or the client and just speaking in general to what happened in that case. There was a case where our staff identified that the victim was a victim of a federal crime and connected with the FBI special agents in charge to speak to the victim advocates that were working with the victim and/or victim specialists at the federal level. And this was the outcome, and this is how we were able to work together to assist this victim of a federal crime.
So, that success story would be fantastic to include for your Grant Managers, and they would love to hear that. On the contrary, if there was a not so great working relationship where you were presented with a victim of a federal crime, and there was no great collaboration at the federal level, you can speak to that, as well.
If something took place that should not have taken place, and you've learned from that, and you can better it for the next time, or you've had a meeting to ensure that everybody knows of the program and of the process and how things are done, you can speak to that in this question, as well.
So, just I challenge you to really dig into the data over the year or the efforts that have taken place and focus on what you usually wouldn't share only because you're either rushing through the report, or you just want to provide the perfect response that is just positive on all fronts. That is not what we're looking for. We're looking for accuracy and transparency in these responses, and that is why explaining success stories, and barriers, and issues, and stories where things could have been done differently would be considered a better response than just providing a process of a response that remains the same year after year.
So, the last question that we are looking at is question 11. And this is the one that will ask the grantee to list any other outcome measures that are reported to the governor or really any other measures that you've collected for your program that are not within your PMT report. This is a great question, and if your response is not applicable, or we don't have any measures, or none at this time, then I challenge you to think about why don't you have any measures. Why are you not collecting additional data, and why do you think this question exists? Is it because there should be additional measures that you collect? There is something that you would like to collect that would give your organization some insight around your program that you think you would like some, to start exploring in the next year. Be sure to think about that instead of just saying N/A or this doesn't apply. And you can say, we do not have anything to collect at this time.
However, we would love to learn more from other states and what they're doing." And then connect with your Grant Manager and really start working on how else can we manage our grant and collect additional measures that would benefit our organization and benefit our program that may not be listed in the PMT. This specific example speaks to the percentage of compensation determination made within 90 days of receipt of a compensation application. And this grantee explains that the number, the target goal is 98, and the program only achieved 90 percent during the last reporting period. They also explain why they think they could not meet their goals, and for the factor being that there are new staff that are being hired. And it usually takes about 6 months for the staff to be able to complete the process properly.
So, this is great. And then your Grant Manager can reach out and ask for additional information or just really try to understand why this is a measure for the state and what additional information they're able to share about it. And you can see this is a much better response than saying, "We don't have any additional measures," or "We don't collect anything additional."
All right, so these are all 12 questions. I hope this was helpful. I do want to go through a quick summary and then provide some resources and ask for your feedback. But please just go through the questions. Go through your responses over the last few years and see where can I improve my response, where can I change my response for this upcoming reporting period, and provide more, whether it's stories or more information that would benefit my Grant Manager and OVC.
To summarize, responses should be powerful and effective. They should include more information. They shouldn't be one-sentence responses or yes-and-no responses. You are speaking to an entire year of work, and saying yes or no does not really equate to the incredible work that you're doing every day and wouldn't really show OVC the work that you're doing every day on the compensation program.
Be sure to respond as a team. Ask your staff members if they would like to contribute, if they have any portion of the report that they feel like they can provide strong answers for or speak to a story or any barriers that they are seeing when they are completing the applications. You'd be surprised at how many responses you would get if you were to ask for assistance in completing these reports. Also be specific and use evidence from the PMT. This evidence will be a great starting point for you to provide a comprehensive response. Just speaking to the data and just the changes in the data is a great place to start.
I also invite you to explore our OVC online resources to learn more about how you can better respond to these questions. And also ask your team to look at the resources, as well, and learn the performance measures and understand them so you can complete these reports properly but also so you can hold each other accountable for these responses and ensuring that you are analyzing the data, and you are understanding what your program reporting requirements are and how they would benefit you and your organization and not only OVC. So again, there are the resources on the webpage, so do you explore those. We have the list of performance measures. We have a user guide for the PMT. We have the OVC dictionary and terminology resource.
And we also have other pre-recorded webinars just like this one that you can explore. But if you need any additional information, we invite you to schedule a session with us around whether it's a Welcome to Performance Management or it's a specific session to speak to a measure or to really bounce off ideas about your narrative responses or any upcoming items that you'd like to chat about.
We are more than happy to connect with you. Our sessions run between 30 minutes to an hour, but we are more than flexible to work around your time, as well. You would contact the helpdesk through email or call, and we'd be able to get back to you and schedule those sessions or assist you if you have a specific question. I've included both contact information for our OVC PMT Helpdesk and the JustGrants Helpdesk. I do want to let you know that these annual narrative reports are due, you complete them in the PMT, but then they are due in the JustGrants system. So, if you have any issues doing so, here's the contact information for JustGrants to reach out to them directly. And other than that, I just want to thank you for your time during this session.
I know it was a lot of information. Please do reflect back on the information that I shared with you today and look at previous responses as you work on the upcoming annual narrative responses and see where you can provide more information. And thank you all.
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