Performance Partnership Agreements
One of the main ways that EPA and individual states implement the principles of performance partnerships on the ground is by negotiating Performance Partnership Agreements (PPAs).
Joint strategic planning is fundamental to building effective partnerships. In 2003, a work group of state and EPA senior leaders agreed to reforms designed to give all states and EPA earlier and more meaningful opportunities to plan and set priorities together.
Plans should have a strong underpinning of strategic thinking based on:
An assessment of environmental conditions and program implementation needs, and
Analysis of what approaches and tools are most likely to bring about the greatest environmental results.
PPAs should reflect the jointly developed goals and priorities and translate them into plans at the operational level.
Joint planning opportunities exist for all states, even states that do not negotiate formal PPAs with their EPA regions. In these cases, the results are articulated in grant work plans or other agreements.
Elements of Effective PPAs
The work group also defined the elements of effective PPAs. They are:
A description of environmental conditions, priorities, and strategies;
Performance measures for evaluating environmental progress;
A process for joint evaluation on the how well the PPA is working and an agreement to implement any needed improvements that are identified;
A description of the structure and process for mutual accountability; including a clear definition of the roles of each party in carrying out the PPA as well as an overview of how resources will be deployed to accomplish the work; and
A description of how the priorities in the PPA align with those in the EPA Regional Plan, EPA Strategic Plan, and the state's own strategic (or other related) plan.
Incorporating these key elements still allows for a wide range of PPAs.
A fundamental concept underlying performance partnerships is that each state is different. Each EPA-state partnership negotiation takes into account the particular capacities, needs, and interests of that state.
However, the longer-term goal is to improve the quality and value of PPAs over time so they become the most effective mechanism through which EPA and states can explain jointly-developed goals and priorities and how they will work together to achieve environmental results.
Scope and Content of PPAs
The scope and contents of PPAs varies. Individual PPAs can range from general statement about how the state and EPA will work together as partners (perhaps identifying joint priorities that will be addressed) to comprehensive, multi-program documents that detail each party's roles and responsibilities.
Some PPAs meet relevant statutory and regulatory requirements and also serve as the work plans for Performance Partnership Grants (PPGs) or other EPA grants. In a few cases, the PPA contains a more general discussion of the working relationship between EPA and the state rather than a discussion of priorities and programs.
EPA regions reported on the topics and program areas covered in the 31 state environmental agency PPAs that were in place in 2004. Of these PPAs, 23 also serve as the work plan for PPGs or other grants.
General topics. A large majority of the PPAs include priorities and strategies, a joint evaluation process, reporting requirements, output measures, a dispute resolution process, data management, and a discussion of the roles and responsibilities of each partner. Less than a third include a description of environmental conditions, a discussion of how resources will be deployed, and outcome measures.
Program areas. Nearly all of the PPAs covered air quality and water pollution control, and a large majority address enforcement, drinking water, hazardous waste, and underground storage tanks. About half cover wetlands, solid waste, toxic substances, pollution prevention, and environmental justice. Brownfields, pesticides, children's health, and Superfund are included in only about a third of the PPAs.