Since 2008, BWSR’s Performance Review and Assistance Program (PRAP) has assessed the performance of the units of government that constitute Minnesota’s local delivery system for conservation of water and related land resources. The program goal is to assist these local government partners to be the best they can be in their management of Minnesota’s land and water resources.
PRAP Review Process
BWSR’s PRAP uses four levels of review to assess performance ranging from statewide oversight in Level I, to a focus on individual LGU performance in Levels II and III, and to remediation in Level IV.
- Level I is an annual tabulation of required plans and reports for all LGUs.
- Level II is a routine, interactive review intended to cover all LGUs at least once every 10 years. A Level II review evaluates progress on plan implementation, operational effectiveness, and partner relationships. This review includes assessing compliance with Level II performance standards.
- Level III is an in-depth assessment of an LGU’s performance problems and issues. A Level III review is initiated by BWSR or the LGU and usually involves targeted assistance to address specific performance needs.
- Level IV is for those LGUs that have significant performance deficiencies, and includes BWSR Board action to assign penalties as authorized by statute. Levels I through III are designed to avoid the need for Level IV.
PRAP grants provide financial assistance to LGUs to improve operating performance and execute planned goals and objectives. The grants can include facilitation, mediation or consulting services related to organizational improvement activities such as reorganizations/mergers, strategic planning, organizational development, benchmarking, audits, and staff and board capacity assessments. LGUs need not have been the subject of a PRAP performance review to apply for these grants, but funding priority is given to activities recommended to an LGU as part of a Level II, III or IV PRAP review.
Assistance grants are made on a cost-share, reimbursement basis with a cap of $10,000 per LGU. The application process requires basic information about the need, the proposed use of funds, a timeline, and the source of match dollars. BWSR staff will assess the LGU need as part of the application review process. Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis as long as funds are available.
For Application Information Click Here
PRAP Legislative Report
BWSR prepares an annual PRAP report for the Minnesota legislature containing the results of the previous year’s program activities as well as a general assessment of the performance of the LGUs providing land and water conservation services and programs. These reports contain Level I data regarding reporting and plan status for all LGUs, as well as summaries and findings from all Level II, III and IV reviews completed during the reporting year.
Level I PRAP Reporting
Each year BWSR tabulates required plans and the required or voluntary reports submitted to BWSR, other units of government, and the public about fiscal status, plans, programs and activities. Specific performance standards can be found on the Performance Standards Checklists.
- Level I PRAP Information by LGU
- Interactive County Water Plan Map
- Outstate Watershed Management Plan Map
- Metro Watershed Management Plan Map
Standard Level II PRAP Reviews
A Standard Level II performance review is designed to give BWSR and individual LGUs an overall assessment of the LGU’s effectiveness in both the delivery and the effects of their efforts in conservation. The review looks at the LGU’s implementation of their plan’s action items and their compliance with BWSR’s operational performance standards. Level II reviews also include surveys of board members, staff and partners to assess internal and external effectiveness of the LGU. Level II reviews are routine, and each LGU will be selected for a Level II review approximately every 10 years. Summaries to past Level II PRAP reviews can be found in the PRAP legislative reports.
As part of the Level I and II processes BWSR uses a performance standard checklist (link below) to assess four areas of operation: administration, planning, execution, and communication/coordination. The standards vary, based on LGU type and requirements, but are divided into two categories: basic and high performance.
The basic standards describe practices that are either legally required or fundamental to the LGU’s operations. The high performance standards describe practices that reflect a greater level of attention and effort from the LGU. While all LGUs should be meeting the basic standards, only the more ambitious ones will meet many high performance standards.
Watershed-based Performance Standards
From 2013-2015, BWSR conducted three watershed-based Level II reviews aimed at assessing the extent of collaboration among the LGUs operating in the same watershed and the operational effectiveness of each LGU individually. The process includes watershed-based performance standards focused on collaboration among LGUs, a survey of LGU lead staff and board members to assess their awareness of the issues of other LGUs in the watershed and the potential for more collaboration, and final reports that address both watershed-wide and individual LGU issues and needs. The results of these watershed based Level II PRAP reviews are summarized in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 reports to the Legislature.
PRAP Guiding Principles
The BWSR Board has established the following principles to guide the PRAP.
- Pre-emptive - so that problems are identified and diagnosed early.
- Systematic - thorough, consistent and expected so that local governments can be prepared.
- Constructive - recognizes uniqueness, charts a path for those needing help to improve and showcases successes.
- Transparent - allowing for greater public awareness and participation.
In addition, the PRAP should:
- Include consequences - that are proportional to the uncorrected deficiencies.
- Provide recognition - for high performance.
- Retain local ownership and autonomy - even when the State does not fully agree with decisions.
- Maintain proportionate expectations - comparisons are inevitable but need to acknowledge wide diversity of capacity and budget.
- Preserve the state/local partnership - the State provides review, training and resources as a partnership package.
- Result in effective on-the-ground conservation - must add value to conservation and clean water outcomes, not become an outcome unto itself.