Applicants for EPA grants are required to submit a plan for tracking and measuring the expected outputs and outcomes identified their workplans or proposals.
Defining Outputs and Outcomes
Outputs: Outputs are the activities or deliverables that are to be accomplished as a result of a grant. Outputs are generally described as deliverables or milestones in a workplan or timeline. EPA project officers track the completion of outputs to monitor the progress of a grant. Outputs include things like number of workshops held, number of volunteers trained, field work completed, study completed, watershed management plan completed, etc.
Outcomes: Outcomes are the measurable impacts or results of the work of the grant. While outputs are accomplished during the life of the grant, outcomes generally occur after the completion of the grant. It is useful to categorize outcomes as short, medium, and long-term. Measuring environmental outcomes can be challenging, especially for small grants.
- Medium and long-term outcomes can be costly, especially if monitoring, sampling and analysis are involved. In addition, it can take many years for the long-term impact of a grant to have a measurable effect on the environment. For small grants, we tend to focus on short and medium-term outcomes, but we want to see the grant in the context of long term goals and objectives.
- Short-term outcomes may include things like: increased knowledge, active stewardship program.
- Medium-term outcomes might include: widespread adoption of best management practices, documented reduction of pesticide use (3 of pounds of pesticides per acre no longer being used on 2000 acres).
- Long-term outcomes might include: documented reduction of nutrients in a lake, documented reduction in number of children with asthma, documented improvement of indoor air quality, meeting water quality standards.
The Logic Model
It is not always possible to measure significant environmental outcomes within the life of a typical grant, but it is important to show the contribution of your individual project or grant in moving towards long term objectives.
With a Logic Model, you can show why you are producing a specific output, what the short term impact is likely to be, and how you are contributing to longer term objectives. The Logic Model can also help clarify the limits of your direct accountability and provide insight as to how you can actually measure outcomes.
Logic models come in many forms and shapes. You may find that a very simple version does the trick, or you can really get into the details. In any case, they all go something like this:
We need to conduct this research
Sample Logic Model
Logic Model Basics
A good logic model does not need to be complex. Go for clarity over confusion.
scientists and the public understand why the fish are dying
decision makers can institute protective land use policies
people can modify behaviors that damage fish habitat
conditions in the stream improve
salmon are healthy and abundant.