Health centers funded through grants under the Health Center Program--managed by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)--provide comprehensive primary care services for the medically underserved. HRSA provides funding for training and technical assistance (TA) cooperative agreement recipients to assist grant applicants. GAO was asked to examine (1) to what extent medically underserved areas (MUA) lacked health center sites in 2006 and 2007 and (2) HRSA's oversight of training and TA cooperative agreement recipients' assistance to grant applicants and its provision of written feedback provided to unsuccessful applicants. To do this, GAO obtained and analyzed HRSA data, grant applications, and the written feedback provided to unsuccessful grant applicants and interviewed HRSA officials.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Health Resources and Services Administration||1. To improve the Health Center Program, the Administrator of HRSA should collect and maintain readily available data on the types of services provided at each health center site to improve the agency's ability to measure access to comprehensive primary care services in MUAs.|
|Health Resources and Services Administration||2. To improve the Health Center Program, the Administrator of HRSA should develop and implement standardized performance measures for training and TA cooperative recipients that assist applicants to improve HRSA's ability to evaluate the performance of its training and TA cooperative agreements. These standardized performance measures should include a measure of the number of successful applicants a recipient assisted.|
|Health Resources and Services Administration||3. To improve the Health Center Program, the Administrator of HRSA should reevaluate its policy of requiring comprehensive on-site reviews of Health Center Program training and TA cooperative agreement recipients every 3 to 5 years and consider targeting its available resources at comprehensive on-site reviews for cooperative agreement recipients that would benefit most from such oversight.|
|Health Resources and Services Administration||4. To improve the Health Center Program, the Administrator of HRSA should identify and take appropriate action to ensure that the discussion of an applicant's strengths and weaknesses in all summary statements is clear.|