Strengthening marriages and relationships in low-income families has emerged as a national strategy for enhancing the well-being of children. The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) appropriated $150 million in discretionary grants each year from 2006 through 2010 to implement the Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Initiative. To provide insight into how these programs are being implemented and monitored, GAO is reporting on (1) how the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded grants and the types of organizations that received funding; (2) what activities and services grantees are providing, including those for domestic violence victims; (3) how HHS monitors and assesses program implementation and use of funds; and (4) how program impact is measured. GAO surveyed grantees, interviewed HHS staff, reviewed HHS records and policy, and visited several programs.
GAO recommends that HHS employ a risk-based approach to monitoring grantees and conducting grantee site visits, using its planned management information system and information from both progress reports and performance indicators to help identify those grantees at risk of not meeting performance goals or not in compliance with grant requirements. HHS also should create clear, consistent guidance and policy for monitoring Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood grantees. HHS is in the process of developing a risk-based approach to monitoring, but disagreed that they lacked clear, consistent monitoring guidance. GAO believes that its recommendations remain valid. (Author abstract)
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