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Performance Partnership Grants

Performance Partnership Grants

EPA provides financial assistance to states to help them develop and implement environmental programs.

Under traditional environmental program grants (sometimes called "categorical" grants), states receive funds to implement the various water, air, waste, pesticides, and toxic substances programs. Environmental program grant funds can only be spent on activities that fall within the statutory and regulatory boundaries of that program.

For many years, states wanted greater flexibility in how they use and manage the grant funds they receive from EPA. In 1996, Congress responded by authorizing EPA to award Performance Partnership Grants (PPGs). States and certain interstate agencies can now choose to combine two or more environmental program grants into a single PPG.

(Note: The Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations is the lead office for state performance partnerships. Tribes may also combine funds in PPGs. The American Indian Environmental Office oversees EPA's tribal programs.)

With PPGs, states (and tribes) can:

PPGs are important tools for implementing performance partnerships. In 2004, 37 state environmental agencies and 23 state agriculture agencies combined some or all of their grants into PPGs.

Part 35 Rule and Performance Partnerships

In 2001, EPA issued revised regulations governing all state environmental program grants, including PPGs. EPA's 40 CFR Part 35 rule, which had not been updated for many years, now integrates the principles of performance partnerships into all state grants - whether or not the state negotiates a Performance Partnership Agreement or combines grant funds in a PPG.

The revised Part 35 rule:

A state does not need to negotiate a PPA in order to request its funds in a PPG. However, a PPA often serves as the strategic underpinning for a PPG (or other state grants). A PPA can itself serve as a grant work plan, but only if it meets statutory, regulatory, and other requirements for a grant work plan.

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Range of Flexibility in State Grants

States can take advantage of a range of flexibility under Part 35.

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Features of PPGs

PPGs offer savings on administrative costs as well as more flexible ways to fund priority needs and programs.

Many states have found that the PPG's single, composite match requirement is particularly valuable. States can meet the composite match from any combination of program sources rather than come up with individual matches program-by-program. This allows a state to overmatch with funds from a program that has more than adequate resources to help cover the match for a program that is strapped for resources.

Each environmental program grant can fund a specified set of activities associated with that particular program. Once combined in a PPG, the funds are not tied to the individual programs. PPG funds can be used for any activity that is eligible under at least one of the combined grants.

PPG carryover funds -- left over after a state has met all of its work plan commitments - are also not tied to a particular program. Because PPGs can fund a wide range of activities, many states have used PPGs to support projects that cut across program boundaries. Examples include upgrading data systems, carrying out geographic and sector initiatives, and conducting multi-media compliance inspections.

PPGs also allow states to adjust the relative amount of work to be performed in each program area in accord with the state's needs and priorities. The state must continue to meet all base program requirements. However, the state can negotiate a work plan that decreases lower priority activities in exchange for increases in activities that address a higher priority need. Some states have used PPG flexibility to help them respond to environmental problems stemming from emergencies, such as floods and droughts.

Click here for examples (PDF) (3 pp, 35K, About PDF) of how states have used the flexibility available through PPGs.

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Grants Eligible for PPGs

Congress specified 17 state environmental program grants to be eligible for inclusion in PPGs when it authorized the PPG program in 1996. The EPA Administrator added several new grant programs to the list in 2004. The box below shows the program grants eligible for inclusion in PPGs in FY 2006.

Environmental Program Grants Eligible for Inclusion in PPGs
(FY 2006)


Air Pollution Control - CAA 105
Radon Assessment and Mitigation -TSCA 306
Water Pollution Control - CWA 106
Water Nonpoint Source - CWA 319
Wetlands Development Grants Program - CWA 104(b)3
Water Quality Cooperative Agreements - CWA 104(b)3
Public Water System Supervision --SDWA 1443(a)
Underground Injection Control - SDWA 1443(b)
Hazardous Waste Management - SWDA 3011(a)
Brownfields Response - CERCLA 128(a)
Pesticides Program Implementation - FIFRA 23(a)
Pesticides Cooperative Enforcement - FIFRA 23(a)1
Pesticides Applicator Certification & Training 23(a)(2))
Lead-Based Paint Activities - TSCA 404(g)
Toxic Substances Compliance Monitoring - TSCA
Pollution Prevention Initiatives - PPA 6605
Environmental Information Exchange Network
Sector Program (compliance/enforcement)
Tribal Assistance Grant

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Competitive Grants in PPGs

EPA's policy is to promote competition in the award of grants. Most of the grants eligible for inclusion in PPGs are awarded to states on an allocation formula basis. However, a few of the PPG-eligible grants are awarded competitively - that is, states must compete with each other, and sometimes with other entities, to receive these grants.

Competitive grants tend to be awarded later than the other state grants. If the state's proposal is ultimately funded, the state can choose to amend its PPG to add in the new grant. The amended PPG work plan must include the commitments the state proposed in its application for the competitive grant. This requirement maintains the integrity of the competitive process.

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Accountability in PPGs and Other State Grants

All state grants - including PPGs - are subject to the same accountability and joint evaluation requirements under Part 35. Just as for any other grant, states are held accountable for achieving the outcomes and outputs in PPG work plans.

To carry out its mission, about half of EPA's budget is awarded to states, tribes, local governments, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions in grants (assistance agreements). A new environmental results order requires that each proposed grant be linked to the goals and objectives in EPA's Strategic Plan. Under this order, all grant work plans must include well defined outputs and, to the extent practicable, well-defined outcomes. The order places no additional requirements on state grants; grants meeting the work plan requirements in Part 35 are already in compliance

EPA regions assure that the work plan for each grant - environmental program grant or PPG - supports EPA's strategic plan and includes appropriate outcome and output measures.

States and EPA conduct joint evaluations of environmental program grants and PPGs. They use the results to support joint planning and priority setting. Progress and accomplishments are reported in national and regional program databases and reports.

Demonstrating environmental results is a challenge with all state grants - environmental program grants and PPGs. It is easy to determine if a state achieves the outputs (activities) set out in a grant work plan. It is more difficult to determine what effect these activities have on outcomes - such as actual improvements in the environment --because they are also affected by many external variables.

Therefore, to paint a fuller picture of results, EPA uses a range of measures - environmental results, program outcomes, and outputs.

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