Chapter 6: Monitoring and EvaluationAnchor: #i1005678
Section 1: OverviewAnchor: #i1005683
What Is Project Monitoring?
Traffic safety grant project monitoring is used by Project Managers and state and federal reviewers to track progress and achievement of project objectives and performance measures and compliance with procedures, laws, and regulations. Since the process is ongoing throughout the duration of the project, it serves as a management tool for project control. Project monitoring also presents a good opportunity for sharing information and technical assistance. Project monitoring includes a set of procedures and forms for project review and documentation.Anchor: #i1005698
Monitoring is required in order to:
- ensure compliance with state and federal requirements
- ensure that objectives and performance measures are being achieved.
Project monitoring also serves as a management tool for:
- detecting and preventing problems
- helping to identify needed changes (grant modifications or amendments)
- identifying training or assistance needed
- providing data necessary for daily operations, planning, and evaluation, and
- identifying exemplary projects and best practices.
Monitoring is a sound management practice to ensure compliance with project objectives and generally accepted accounting principles, which ensures that the State is receiving what it is contracting for. The TxDOT Traffic Operations Division - Traffic Safety Section (TRF-TS) expends considerable time and funds to annually develop the Highway Safety Plan (HSP) goals, objectives and strategies.
Monitoring ensures that the selected strategies are fully implemented as planned in order to achieve the best possible results. If a project fails to achieve the anticipated positive impact, one of the first things to consider should be the monitoring results to determine if a poor strategy or poor strategy execution was a factor. Based on the answer, TRF-TS should then identify what should be done differently the next time to ensure future project success.Anchor: #i1005755
Types of Monitoring
Monitoring is formal and informal, financial and operational. The most common types of monitoring are:
- ongoing contact with the subgrantee through phone calls, e-mails, correspondence, and meetings
- on-site monitoring reviews of project operations, management, and financial records and systems
- review of project Performance Reports
- review and approval of Requests for Reimbursement (RFRs) (reimbursement is addressed in Chapter 5, Section 3)
- desk review of other documents in the project-grant files for timely submission and completeness
- review of reports from the Traffic Safety Electronic Grants Management System (eGrants), and
- monitoring of division traffic safety activities and grant management and oversight practices.
Major Elements of Monitoring
The following elements are important to consider when determining the appropriate level of monitoring:
- the frequency of the monitoring
- the items to cover
- the procedures to follow
- the persons to involve
- the documentation to complete
- the evidence of present or potential problems, and
- the training and assistance provided.
Answering the questions of how often, who to involve, and how to monitor depends on the following criteria
The size and complexity of the project
The larger and more complex the project, the more frequent and formal the monitoring should be.
The capabilities and experience of the subgrantee, including relevant training attended
Lower capabilities and/or lack of experience of the subgrantee normally requires more frequent and formal monitoring.
Any indications of problems, lack of performance, or change in direction
The more problems and changes, the more frequent and formal monitoring should be.
NOTE: The grant agreement should define how and how often monitoring will occur.
Example 1 — Minimally Monitored Project: The Jovial School District has a $300 mini-grant to conduct a Project Celebration. Monitoring may consist only of reviewing the activity report that describes the Project Celebration activities and reviewing and approving the reimbursement. Monitoring might also consist of attending part or the entire Project Celebration event to ensure that the event is alcohol and drug free with a strong emphasis on safety. This attendance is not mandatory.
Example 2 — Project Needing Extensive Monitoring: The City of Sly has a $200,000 grant to conduct a community traffic safety program. Previously, the city has had difficulty in meeting deadlines for Performance Reports. The first deliverable in the grant is the completion of an assessment and then development of a detailed plan for addressing the community’s needs as identified in the assessment. The city has submitted a $20,000 RFR, but submission of the assessment and plan is one month behind schedule. In such a case of obvious non-performance or lack of meaningful activity, payment of the RFR should be withheld pending receipt of the assessment and plan. This project should be closely monitored from the beginning. The city should be advised of its responsibilities for reporting and explaining any delays. An on-site monitoring visit should be conducted as soon as possible.
Based on the above criteria, traffic safety grants requiring annual on-site formal compliance monitoring include:
- All General (non-STEP) grants
- STEP yearlong grants
- STEP Wave grants
- Impaired Driving Mobilization (IDM) grants, and
- Media vendors.
Traffic safety grants that generally do not require formal on-site monitoring include:
- STEP Click It or Ticket (CIOT) mobilizations
- Project Celebration mini-grants, and
- STEP incentive awards.