MAY 15, 2006
TO: National Water Program Managers and Staff
FROM: Michael H. Shapiro Deputy Assistant Administrator
SUBJECT: National Water Program Guidance: FY2007
The National Water Program is making good progress toward the environmental and public health goals described in the EPA Strategic Plan. The National Water Program Guidance: FY2007 outlines how EPA, States, Tribes, and others are continuing the important work of assuring that the Nation's waters are clean and safe and is available at: www.epa.gov/water/waterplan/.
Priorities for the water program in FY2007 are summarized in the Executive Summary of the Guidance and reflect the priorities identified by Assistant Administrator Benjamin Grumbles this Spring. These priorities include increased attention to developing sustainable solutions for water infrastructure financing and management, restoring and protecting wetlands and watersheds (including key efforts related to water quality trading, watershed permitting, and wetlands mitigation), improving monitoring and measuring for clean, safe, and secure water, and advancing regional collaborations to protect critical ecosystems such as the Great Lakes, the Gulf of Mexico, and Chesapeake Bay(see www.epa.gov/water/actionplan/ for more information).
The National Water Program Guidance: FY2007 is modeled on the guidance for FY 2006, but includes some important differences.
The number of Program Activity Measures (PAMs) reported on by EPA, States, and Tribes is reduced from 88 in 2006 to 79 in 2007. Of these 79 measures, 49 involve data reported by Regions and25 of these have "targets" for FY 2007. Other measures are reported by Headquarters or by Great Waterbody Offices.
The water quality strategy is revised in several key ways. The strategy emphasizes the importance of waterbody restoration, including the use of core program tools to implement TMDLs. Restoration and protection of water quality on a watershed basis continues to be a top priority and measures related to watershed management are revised and grouped together to illustrate the interconnectedness of this work.
New initiatives by the Agency to focus grant resources on accomplishment of environmental results described in the Strategic Plan are explained, including newly developed grant "templates" to be used for selected program grants.
In the demanding budget environment we all work in, a strong planning process linked to environmental results is critical. I am confident that the annual planning that EPA, States, and Tribes do in conjunction with the development of grant work plans is increasingly focused on key environmental outcomes. We also need to be able to show progress toward the environmental and public health goals we have identified and the program activity commitments we have established. This work will help us document progress under the Program Assessment and Rating Tool (PART) developed by OMB and now applied to most water programs. Finally, we need to be able to demonstrate that we use the feedback we get concerning our progress to make prompt management decisions that reinforce success and address poor performance.
In order to strengthen the "feedback loop" that follows the annual planning process, the National Water Program needs to continue efforts to strengthen the management system described in Part III of this Guidance, including the following key elements:
reporting of progress toward environmental and public health goal and program commitments at the mid-year and at the end of the year;
continued efforts to share program perspectives among Regional and HQ program managers through HQ visits to Regional offices and continued collaboration to reflect "Eco-Region" and EPA Regional Plans in national strategies;
cooperation with the other agencies, such as the OMB, EPA Inspector General, Government Accountability Office, and National Academy of Sciences, to consider conclusions of evaluation studies of water programs and adopt recommended"best practices" where appropriate; and
development of mid-year and end-of-year reports consolidating all information concerning National Water Program performance and making recommendations for management actions to strengthen performance.
If we can reinforce a strong annual planning process with an equally effective performance assessment effort, the National Water Program will be well prepared to continue its strong performance in the years ahead.
Thank you for the outstanding work you have done to continue over thirty years of progress toward cleaner and safer water for all Americans. I look forward to working with you as we continue with this important mission.
- National Water Program Guidance: FY2007
cc: Lyons Gray, Chief Financial Officer; Office of the Chief Financial Officer Benjamin Grumbles; Assistant Administrator for Water