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North Carolina Should Focus on Early Childhood Learning in Order to Raise Achievement in Predominantly Disadvantaged School Districts (May 2019) 2019-06

Using a national dataset of average test scores for school districts from 2009–2015, the Program Evaluation Division (PED) identified characteristics of predominantly disadvantaged districts that demonstrate average or better performance on standardized state tests; PED subsequently completed case studies of 12 such districts. PED found that the gap in achievement between predominantly disadvantaged districts and more advantaged districts is already present by third grade and that the small group of high-performing predominantly disadvantaged districts are already achieving these average or better test results in third grade. Thereafter, these districts maintain similar rates of student growth compared to other disadvantaged districts. PED found that high-achieving predominantly disadvantaged districts share several characteristics including focusing on early education; increasing or maximizing student learning time; attracting, developing, and retaining high-quality teachers; using data and coaching to improve instruction; seeking additional outside resources; and promoting a local school board focus on policy and academic achievement. The General Assembly should require districts that the State Board of Education identifies as low-performing to create an early childhood learning improvement plan as a component of their required plans for improvement, and should require an assessment of early childhood learning as part of the Department of Public Instruction’s comprehensive needs assessment process for certain low-performing districts.

Final Report

Executive Summary

Recommendations

Presentation

Administrative Missteps and Lack of Expertise Led to Delays and $3.7 Million in Unnecessary State Spending for Hurricane Matthew Recovery (May 2019) 2019-05

Hurricane Matthew delivered significant damage to 50 North Carolina counties in October 2016. In its aftermath, the General Assembly appropriated $300.9 million for disaster recovery across two acts. Additionally, the State received significant federal assistance, which included Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds. However, as of December 2018, the State had only spent 1% ($3.4 million) of its total CDBG-DR award ($236.5 million). Several issues delayed distribution of these funds, including non-compliant contracts (which resulted in the State spending approximately $3.7 million unnecessarily), limited institutional knowledge within state government, and program design issues and changes in implementation strategies. CDBG-DR funds can also be used as the non-federal share for various disaster recovery funds that require a state match when states demonstrate a need. However, General Assembly appropriations demonstrated the State could meet this need, thereby preventing it from using CDBG-DR funds to fulfill match requirements. The Program Evaluation Division also found information reported to the General Assembly on disaster recovery efforts is not performance-oriented and does not allow for comparison and identification of areas needing improvement. In response to these findings, the General Assembly should require DPS to establish mechanisms to ensure future CDBG-DR contracts are HUD-compliant, develop standardized performance metrics, and notify various entities when CDBG-DR might be used for matching purposes; consider a core number of DPS staff as permanent employees; and modify DPS’s statutory reporting requirements.

Final Report

Executive Summary

Recommendations

Presentation

Stream Restoration Projects Receive Duplicative State Funding and Inadequate Performance Management (March 2019) 2019-04

The Program Evaluation Division (PED) evaluated the efficiency and effectiveness of the grant application process for stream restorations administered by the Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ’s) Division of Water Resources under the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (NRCS-EQIP).The Western Stream Initiative (WSI) is the source of federal NRCS-EQIP funds used for stream restoration projects within 31 of the western counties in North Carolina. PED found that state funding for WSI projects has been duplicative, which occurred when two state sources—the Water Resources Development Grant (WRDG) program and the Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF)—provided funding for identical work activities within a single project. Additionally, PED found that data necessary to demonstrate the grant program’s efficiency and effectiveness are not being tracked or reported, and of the data that are tracked, performance trends show diminishing returns. Lastly, WRDG-EQIP grant award calculations do not rely on historical project cost data, which results in imprecise awards and potential overawarding of funding. The General Assembly should consolidate grant resources with either WRDG-EQIP or the CWMTF; direct the WSI grant administrator to improve performance management; and direct the State Auditor to perform an audit of state funds for WSI projects managed by Resource Institute.

Final Report

Executive Summary

Recommendations

Presentation

Handouts

Changing How North Carolina Controls Liquor Sales Has Operational, Regulatory, and Financial Ramifications (February 2019) 2019-03

Changing how North Carolina regulates liquor sales would require major adjustments. Ending government control of retail liquor sales would require decisions related to dissolving local alcohol beverage control (ABC) boards and closing ABC stores, determining regulatory requirements for private retail businesses to sell liquor, and developing an implementation schedule. Ending government control of wholesale liquor sales would further require establishing requirements for a private liquor warehouse and distribution system. The Program Evaluation Division identified three options that assumed local ABC boards would be abolished and local governments would no longer be responsible for operating local ABC stores. Pursuing any of these options would affect the ABC Commission, state and local government revenues, and liquor suppliers and consumers. In lieu of a complete overhaul, the State could choose to further modernize the current system to increase efficiency and profitability. If the General Assembly wishes to change North Carolina’s system for regulating liquor, it should appoint a joint legislative commission to determine how state and local government roles would change. If it wishes to modernize the current system, the General Assembly should direct local ABC boards located in counties with multiple boards to form merged ABC boards; eliminate the purchase-transportation permit for liquor; monitor the selection of a new ABC warehouse contract; and provide local ABC boards with more flexibility to charge delivery fees, serve special order customers, open ABC stores on Sundays, and offer in-store tastings of liquor products.

Final Report

Executive Summary

Recommendations

Presentation

Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina Should Increase Private Funding and Improve Formal Coordination with Department of Commerce (January 2019) 2019-02

The Department of Commerce created the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (the EDPNC) in 2014 to serve as North Carolina’s sales and marketing arm. The EDPNC is one variation of a public-private partnership, which involves a government entity contracting with a non-government entity to provide a public good or service. The Program Evaluation Division (PED) found that the EDPNC’s ability to allocate resources to vital activities is limited by restricted state appropriations and by private fundraising totals that are lower than those of comparable organizations in other states. Further, the EDPNC and the Department of Commerce lack effective coordination. Other issues noted by PED include the tourism division having minimal synergy with the rest of the EDPNC and the EDPNC operating without a strategic plan. To address these findings, the General Assembly should direct the EDPNC to increase private funding to $2 million per year and provide a matching incentive; charge the EDPNC and the Department of Commerce with engaging a facilitator; create a legislative commission to consider the best way to organize and manage the tourism division; and modify existing state law to specify that the EDPNC Board of Directors is responsible for creating an organizational strategic plan.

Final Report

Executive Summary

Recommendations

Opportunities Exist to Improve the Erosion and Sedimentation Control Program and Recover $1.7 Million in Annual Costs (January 2019) 2019-01

North Carolina’s Erosion and Sedimentation Control (E&SC) program is designed to allow development by minimizing erosion at construction sites and preventing off-site pollution from sedimentation. The Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee directed the Program Evaluation Division (PED) to examine the effectiveness and efficiency of the E&SC program and determine whether duplication exists between it and the federal National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program. PED found that the E&SC program fulfills requirements of the NPDES program and thus no duplication exists; additionally, it is not advantageous to merge oversight of the programs. PED also found that the E&SC program is not self-supporting; program fees cover less than 50% of expenditures and state appropriations help support program operations. Further, PED found that insufficient information management practices challenge continuous improvement. Based on these findings, the General Assembly should modify state law to outline reporting requirements for delegated programs and increase fees; direct the development of rules for inspections and amendment of Memorandums of Agreement with delegated local programs; and direct the Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources to improve its information management practices.

Final Report

Executive Summary

Recommendations

Program Evaluation Division, North Carolina General Assembly
Legislative Office Building, Suite 100
300 North Salisbury Street , Raleigh, NC 27603-5925
919-301-1404