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Many programs funded by national governments are implemented through projects of sub national governments. Such intergovernmental programs must provide both order and commonalties across their component projects as well as freedom for individual projects to appropriately respond to their respective, varied situations.

This paper describes an approach to developing management and accountability indicators that structure and identify commonalties across intergovernmental projects as well as variations among them. The paper describes a program initiated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), i.e., the National Extension Targeted Water Quality Program. The indicators for this intergovernmental program served to characterize commonalties across, and variations within, its projects relative to outcome targets, outputs and associated outcomes.

Emphasis is placed on developing management and accountability indicators rather than on the substance of management and assessment of the National Extension Targeted Water Quality Program. The Targeted Program supplies an example of a methodology for indicator development and use, as well as lessons to be learned.

Projects of the National Extension Targeted Water Quality Program were conducted, in 53 states or territories, in order to reduce/prevent water pollution resulting from: animal wastes; application of nitrogen fertilizer and pesticides to crops; and inadequate public policy. Projects also were conducted to protect or improve the quality of drinking water from private, domestic-use water wells.

The Targeted Program's management and accountability indicators were established by USDA, rather than through USDA collaboration with project staffs of the program. The USDA-defined indicators guided state project plans-of-work and accomplishment reports. The system for reporting plans-ofwork and accomplishments was generally consistent with the requirements of the federal Government Performance and Results Act.

Due to the magnitude of the overall assessment of the Targeted Water Quality Program, this paper focuses on only one of the program's goals, i.e., reduce/prevent water degradation from animal wastes. The case provided, i.e., projects to manage dairy cattle's wastes, illustrates the nature and logical progression of the indicators used for the entire Targeted Water Quality Program.

The paper addresses attributes of the indicators which permitted them to cost-effectively represent commonalties and diversities of the projects of the Targeted Water Quality Program.

Cost estimates are presented for developing and using the indicators. The paper evaluates both the Targeted Program's indicators and the directive approach used by USDA to develop the indicators. The paper also suggests improved ways to develop management and accountability indicators for future intergovernmental programs.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2000

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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