There is a great deal of information available for Program Administration. You will find more detailed webpages for different administrative requirements including Administrative Guidance documents and more general resources.
The AT Act programs are formula-funded mandatory grants with unique requirements. It is important that you understand the difference between these programs and other types of discretionary grants. If you need to learn more about this, the Understanding Types of Grants and Associated Funding document provides a good overview.
As you learned when you reviewed the AT Act, there is a statutory requirement to establish an advisory council “to provide consumer-responsive, consumer-driven advice to the State for, planning of, implementation of, and evaluation of the activities carried out through the grant, including setting the measurable goals described in subsection (d)(3)”. Additional information, including FAQs, is available on the State Advisory Councils page.
- Review the composition of your program’s Advisory Council soon after you begin your tenure as director.
- Verify that the representation requirements are satisfied.
- Meet with your Advisory Council, face-to-face if possible, in your first few months of leadership.
- Learn the strengths and expertise of your individual members and Council as a whole.
Required Federal Reporting
There are two major federal reporting requirements: the State Plan for Assistive Technology and the Annual Progress report. We suggest you:
- Review the Annual AT Data and Fiscal Calendar document and enter the dates in your calendar and/or keep handy for easy reference.
- Use the Summary of AT Act Section 4 Grantee Requirements document as a reference for requirements and compliance.
State Plan for Assistive Technology (SPAT)
Once every three years, each funded program is required to develop a State Plan for Assistive Technology, updated annually when there are significant changes. The State Plan serves as the application for Section 4 AT Act formula funding and identifies which AT Act activities the grantee will conduct and how they will be implemented. The plan is reviewed by ACL to ensure it conforms to the requirements of the AT Act.
- Familiarize yourself with your program’s current approved State Plan. You can find it at the CATADA website.
- After you have read your program’s approved plan, explore the Instructions for the State Plan and the other resources found on the CATADA website.
- As you review the instructions for completing the State Plan, you will note information regarding “flexibility” and “comparability”. These terms have implications for both data collection and fiscal administration. Pay particular attention if your state claims flexibility or comparability for any state level activity.
- If needed, read the administrative guidance document on Flexibility and Comparability for a greater understanding of these options and their implications.
- Now that you have familiarized yourself with how your state carries out state level and state leadership activities and you have read your state plan, ensure that what your state is doing aligns with what is in your State Plan.
Annual Progress Report (APR)
Every state AT program is required to submit the Annual Progress Report (APR) by December 31 of each year. The APR covers the period of October 1st through September 30th of each federal fiscal year and includes all the data elements required by Section 4(f) of the AT Act for state financing, device loan, reuse, device demonstration, training, technical assistance, public awareness, information and referral, state improvement outcomes, and leveraged funding. APR data must be reported for each activity included as part of your State Plan for AT.
CATADA has developed and supports the web-based data reporting system for the Annual Progress Report (APR) called the National Assistive Technology Act Data System (NATADS). This is the data reporting system used by state AT programs to submit the required data elements of the APR in accordance with the AT Act mandates.
- Familiarize yourself with the CATADA website and available tools and resources.
- Use the CATADA data tools to run a few reports to identify trends (e.g. your state’s performance over several years, by activity). Keep in mind that comparing your data with a demographically similar state can be misleading due to differences in many variables (i.e. federal funding level, leveraged funding levels, program structure, available resources, etc.).
- Read the AT3 Center administrative guidance document Using Data for Program Improvement (word) for suggestions on using your data to analyze and gain insights into program performance and inform your planning and program delivery.
The measurable goals set by ACL for the state AT programs are referred to as performance measures. Data is collected and analyzed within the contexts of education, employment, or community living for access and acquisition activities. The percentage of goal attainment is auto-calculated in the APR. Performance measures are set by ACL in three areas: (1) AT access activities as a target percentage of individuals and entities who accessed device demonstration programs or device loan programs and made a decision about an AT device or service as a result of the assistance they received; (2) AT acquisition activities as a target percentage of individuals and entities who obtained devices or services from state financing, reutilization, or non-decision making device loan activities who would not have obtained that AT device or service absent the activity; and (3) ICT accessibility focused on obtaining an outcome/result from information and communication technology accessibility training including improvement of policies procedures or practices in the areas of website and software development and procurement.
- Review your program’s success in achieving the ACL measurable goals in the prior year’s APR.
- Review your program’s progress towards meeting the current fiscal year’s measurable goals set by ACL.
Day-to-Day Data Collection System
NATADS’ primary purpose is to serve as the official APR data collection mechanism for reporting aggregate data by the Section 4 formula funded grantees. However, NATADS also has a web-based “day-to-day” (D2D) data collection system that can optionally be used by Section 4 State AT Programs for collecting and managing data reporting for all activities included in the State Plan for AT and required by the Annual Progress Report (APR). This system covers all the required data elements for all Section 4 authorized State AT Program activities, State Financing, Reuse, Device Loan, Device Demonstration, Training, etc. The system allows for data entry by multiple people and sites in an online format with the State AT Program controlling access and includes validation rules to ensure the aggregate data will be clean for end of year reporting in the APR. Numeric aggregate data from the D2D component of NATADS will automatically populate into the APR. You will want to:
- Become familiar with whatever data collection system(s) your program uses.
- If applicable, become familiar with the method(s) by which data is reported by subcontractors or other partners.
- You may wish to discuss data collection systems with your AT3 TA provider.