July 6, 2015Policy Report

Invest in What Works: Performance Partnership Pilots

Federal/ 2015/

The Performance Partnership Pilots (P3) are designed to help improve outcomes for disconnected youth by giving states and communities additional flexibility in using discretionary funds through multiple federal programs. Pilot sites may also seek waivers from specific program requirements that hamper effective services. This flexibility will be granted to up to ten high-performing jurisdictions that will then be held accountable to a set of cross-agency, data-driven outcomes, with the expectation that they also build the evidence base about what works for vulnerable youth. Pilots must focus on improving education, employment, or other key goals, such as health or criminal justice, and must include a plan to track outcomes and measure impact.[i]


P3 does not entail or require new federal funding. Instead, state, local, and tribal jurisdictions are allowed to blend existing federal funding, namely competitive and formula grant funds from the U.S. Departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services, as well as the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Institute for Museum and Library Science. As the official request for proposals indicated, successful pilots will use cost-effective strategies to increase the success of disconnected youth.

“Through a combination of careful implementation of evidence-based and promising practices, effective administrative structures, alignment of outcomes and performance measures, and more efficient and integrated data systems, P3 may produce better outcomes per dollar by focusing resources on what works, rather than on compliance with multiple Federal program requirements that may not best support outcomes.”[ii]

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) plays a central role in coordinating the implementation of the P3 initiative across participating agencies, helping them design an approach that could potentially be applied to other departments and program areas if it is successful. Existing Design, Development, and Implementation (DDI) funds may be used to contribute to a national evaluation of how P3 spurs governance and systems changes at the state and local level, which could inform any future efforts to expand performance partnership authority.[iii]

On November 24, 2014, the U.S. Department of Education issued a notice in the Federal Register, inviting interested parties to apply for a P3 award. Pilot sites will receive start-up grants—drawn from existing, not new discretionary accounts—to support “planning, streamlined governance, strengthened data infrastructure, improved coordination, and related activities to help pilots improve outcomes for disconnected youth.”[iv] As part of their agreements, pilot sites must specify the following information:

  • Populations to be served and outcomes to be achieved;
  • Federal programs and services and discretionary funds being used;
  • Any non-federal funds and state, local or tribal programs involved;
  • Cost-effective federal, state, local and tribal oversight procedures;
  • Appropriate, reliable and objective outcome-measurement methodology;
  • Statutory, regulatory or administrative requirements to be waived; and
  • Length of the agreement (up to Sept. 30, 2018).[v]

State and Local Demand Spurs Federal Action

For years, states, localities, and community-based organizations have sought greater flexibility in the use of federal funds to address local needs. The idea for P3 was generated and requested by the field. Congress first granted authority for P3 in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, allowing up to ten pilot sites to improve outcomes for disconnected youth by receiving funding flexibility from the Departments of Education, Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 authorized a second round of up to ten pilots, and expanded authority to include an additional agency (the Institute of Museum and Library Science). The Administration’s FY16 budget request seeks authority for a third round of ten pilots, and asks to include the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Congressional action on the FY16 budget is pending. In the meantime, federal agencies are currently reviewing applications for the first round of P3, with awards to be announced in 2015.

Additional Information

For further information, visit the official P3 website: http://youth.gov/youth-topics/reconnecting-youth/performance-partnership-pilots

[i] This information comes from U.S. Department of Education, “Performance Partnerships for Disconnected Youth,” accessed at http://www.ed.gov/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/2014-PPPs-Fact-Sheet.pdf.

[ii] See “Notice of Applications for New Awards; Performance Partnership Pilots,” Federal Register Volume 79, Number 226 (24 November 2014), p. 70034.

[iii] This information comes from Office of Management and Budget, “Fiscal Year 2016 Budget,” accessed at https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/organization/fy2016_omb_budget.pdf.

[iv] “Notice of Applications for New Awards; Performance Partnership Pilots,” Federal Register Volume 79, Number 226 (24 November 2014), p. 70034.

[v] This information comes from Forum for Youth Investment, “Performance Partnership Pilots: A New Way to Tackle Policy Barriers to Effective Collaboration,” accessed at http://forumfyi.org/files/performance_partnership_pilot.pdf.