Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Audit

Temporary Assistance for
Needy Families Audit
Sandra Hilton, CPA
Jamie Ralls, CFE, ACDA
Ian Green, M.Econ, CGAP
Scott Learn, MS
Oregon Audits Division
National State Auditors Association
June 12, 2015
TANF Particulars
 TANF provides cash benefits and work supports to low income
families with children.
 We picked the topic because of:
 The program’s link to workforce and poverty issues.
 Oregon’s history of poor results .
 The timeliness for implementing improvements at the end
of the recession.
 The audit had a larger impact than we typically see.
 We believe this is because of the comprehensive approach we
Audit Approach – what we learned
 Extensive graphics helped highlight important trends and tell a
complicated story.
 Data matching identified substantial problems and
demonstrated how the program could better use data to serve
 Case reviews provided telling examples.
 More conversational writing helped draw more readers and
increase impact.
Telling a story
Highlighting comparisons
Boiling down complex points
High Wage Jobs Middle Wage Jobs Low Wage Jobs
Change In Number of Jobs
Jobs Lost
Sources of quality graphic design
 Edward Tufte
Visual Display of Quantitative Information
Envisioning Information
Visual Explanations
Beautiful Evidence
 Stephen Few
Show Me the Numbers
Now You See It
 Stephanie Evergreen
Presenting Data Effectively
Data Summary
 Data analysis uncovered problems but also
led us to solutions.
 The results of the data analysis painted a
clear picture that helped to fully develop
the findings.
 Results led us to review case notes of
populations we might not have otherwise
Bad Data, Data Overload, Data Silos
 Useful data elements
were not always
captured or updated.
 Reports had limited
 Data Sharing was
Antiquated Systems
 Computer systems were
antiquated and
 Case Managers had to wade
through hundreds of
 No dashboard or summary
 No flags or reminders
Merging the silos
Data Set 1
Data Set 2
Results / Finding
Clients without a Diploma
or GED
Clients participating in a
GED program
30% of clients have not
graduated from high
school, yet only 2% were
counted in a GED program
Clients identified as having
a disability (learning,
mental, physical, cognitive,
Clients with Case Plans and 20% of clients have some
Clients by Activity
type of disability, yet 60%
do not have an active case
plan. Of those with an
active case plan, 80% have
no activity.
Clients by Highest Grade
Level Completed
Job Readiness Level (SL1,
SL2, SL3)
Clients with less than a 6th
grade education were
classified as “Job Ready”
Persuading agency skeptics
Washington data sharing:
Writing Approach
 We tried to write more conversationally for
readers unfamiliar with TANF.
 We included reader roadmaps – telling readers why they
should care, summarizing, and putting conclusions first.
 We emphasized specifics and examples.
Conversational Strategies
 We talked with colleagues and friends about our audit.
 We wrote down the simple, concise points we made
when we were talking to each other.
 We read our writing aloud as a group, identifying boring
sentences, jargon and confusing wording.
Saying why readers should care
 The Goal: TANF is designed to help low-income parents
with young children become more self-sufficient.
 The Results: Oregon clients spend relatively few hours in
self-sufficiency activities. In our test month of June 2013,
two thirds of clients recorded no activity at all.
Putting conclusions first
 We didn’t want to force readers to muddle through a long
string of facts or data. We tried to tell them the main
point first.
 Oregon’s TANF program has a history of poor results on
work-based federal performance measures.
Focusing on specifics
TANF serves low-income families.
TANF serves thousands of the poorest
families in the state, 96% with no income at
Using telling examples and quotes
A case manager noted she “spoke frankly” with a (client)
about “her tendency to promise me things and then to
never follow through and ‘disappear.’” She told the client
to get mental health counseling and report back. After
that, however, no one contacted the client for 15 months.
 One case manager commented that “we spend way too
much time and resources chasing clients and trying to
make them accountable.”
 TANF program redesign with an “accountable, flexible
and person-centered approach.”
 Investment of $30 million in Governor’s Budget.
 Separate funding to help the program use data to
improve case management.
Questions & Contact Information
Oregon Audits Division
255 Capitol Street NE
STE 500
Salem, OR 97310
(503) 986-2255
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]