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National Environmental Performance Partnership System (NEPPS)

About NEPPS

EPA, states, and tribes share responsibility for protecting human health and the environment. The unique relationship between EPA, states, and tribes is the cornerstone of the nation's environmental protection system. Working together, EPA, states, and tribes have made enormous progress protecting our air, water, and land resources.

Since 1995, EPA and states have been implementingthe National Environmental Performance Partnership System(NEPPS). NEPPS is a performance-based system of environmental protection designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of EPA partnerships with states, territories, and tribes. By focusing resources on the most pressing environmental problems and taking advantage of the unique capacities of each partner, performance partnerships can help achieve the greatest environmental and human health protection.

PerformancePartnership Agreements and Grants

One of the main ways EPA and states implement performance partnerships is by negotiating Performance Partnership Agreements (PPAs). These agreements set out jointly-developed priorities and protection strategies and how EPA and the state or tribe will work together to address priority needs. States and tribes can alsochoose to combine funds from multiple federal environmental program grantsinto Performance Partnership Grants (PPGs)which allowthemto direct resources where they are needed most or try innovative solutions to environmental problems.

PPAs should have a strong underpinning of strategic thinking based on:

  • An assessment of environmental conditions and program implementation needs;
  • Analysis of approaches and tools that aremost likely to bring about the greatest environmental results; and
  • Jointly developed goals and priorities that aretranslated into plans at the operational level.

Joint planning opportunities exist for all states and tribes, even those that do not negotiate formal PPAs with their EPA regional offices. In these cases, the goals and priorities are articulated in grant work plans or other agreements.

EPA provides financial assistance to states and tribes to help them develop and implement environmental programs. For many years,states and tribes wanted greater flexibilityin how they use and manage the grant funds they receive from EPA. In 1996, Congress responded by authorizing EPA to award PPGs. States,certain interstate agencies, and tribes can now choose to combine two or more environmental program grants into a single PPG.

With PPGs, states and tribes can:

  • Reduce administrative coststhrough streamlined paperwork and accounting procedures;
  • Direct EPA grant funds to priority environmental problemsor program needs; and
  • Try multi-media approachesand initiatives that were difficult to fund under traditional categorical grants.

The map and table below display which states have a PPA and/or PPG.

Color-coded map of states with PPAs and/or PPGs

State Entities with Performance Partnerships
State PPG PPA
Alaska Yes Yes
Alabama Yes No
Arkansas No No
Arizona Yes Yes
California Yes No
Colorado Yes Yes
Connecticut Yes Yes
District of Columbia Yes No
Delaware Yes No
Florida Yes Yes
Georgia Yes No
Hawaii Yes No
Iowa Yes Yes
Idaho No Yes
Illinois Yes Yes
Indiana Yes Yes
Kansas Yes No
Kentucky Yes Yes
Louisana Yes No
Massachusetts Yes Yes
Maryland Yes No
Maine Yes Yes
Michigan Yes No
Minnesota Yes Yes
Missouri Yes No
Mississippi Yes No
Montana Yes Yes
North Carolina Yes No
North Dakota Yes Yes
Nebraska Yes Yes
New Hampshire Yes Yes
New Jersey Yes Yes
New Mexico Yes No
Nevada Yes No
New York Yes No
Ohio Yes Yes
Oklahoma Yes No
Oregon Yes Yes
Pennsylvania Yes No
Puerto Rico Yes No
Rhode Island Yes Yes
South Carolina Yes No
South Dakota Yes Yes
Tennessee Yes No
Texas Yes No
Utah Yes Yes
Virginia Yes Yes
Virgin Islands Yes No
Vermont Yes Yes
Washington Yes Yes
Wisconsin Yes Yes
West Virginia Yes No
Wyoming Yes Yes

Implementing Performance Partnerships

State participation in performance partnerships is voluntary.There are many variations in the scope and content of Performance Partnership Agreements (PPAs) andhow they are funded by Performance Partnership Grants (PPGs) and other grant funds. Individual PPAs can range from a general statement about how the state and EPA will work together as partners (perhaps identifying joint priorities that will be addressed) to comprehensive, multi-program documents that detail each party's roles and responsibilities.

Some PPAs meet relevant statutory and regulatory requirements and also serve as the work plans for PPGs or other EPA grants. In a few cases, the PPA contains a more general discussion of the working relationship between EPA andthe state rather than a discussion of priorities and programs.

Elements of Effective PPAs

Successful PPAs typically include the following key elements:

  • A description of environmental conditions, priorities, and strategies;
  • Performance measures for evaluating environmental progress;
  • A process for jointly evaluatinghow well the PPA is working and an agreement to implement any needed improvements;
  • A description of the process for mutual accountability,including a clear definition of the roles of each party in carrying out the PPA and an overview of how resources will be deployed to accomplish the work; and
  • A description of how the priorities in the PPA align with those in EPA¡¯s Strategic Planand the state's own strategic (or other related) plan.

Most states have unique environmental priorities and program implementation needs. Each EPA-state partnership negotiation takes into account the particular capacities, needs, and interests of that state.

Benefits of a PPG

Under traditional environmental program grants, sometimes called "categorical" grants, states receive funds to implement various water, air, waste, pesticides, and toxic substances programs. Environmental program grant funds can only be spent on activities that fall within the statutory and regulatory boundaries of that program. By combining two or more of their environmental program grants into a PPG, states and tribes are able to perform and report on the grant activities under one workplan.

PPGs are a type of modified block grant, where recipients may combine funds from categorical grants to accomplish their joint and several purposes, so long as recipients meet program requirements for each categorical grant combined into the PPG. The 20 categorical grants eligible for PPGs are a mixture of continuing program grants and competitive project grants. Eligible recipients can combine two or more of the following 20 categorical grants programs identified in EPA's State and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG) appropriation into a PPG.

Regulations governing all state and tribal environmental program grantsincluding PPGs are published in 40 CFRPart 35. By entering into a PPG, states and tribes can take advantage of a range of flexibility in administering their grant, such as:

  • Reducing administrative burden by allowing states and tribes to meet match requirements as a whole rather than by individual program, streamlining paperwork and accounting requirements, and allowing funding of cross-cutting projects;
  • Fosteringjoint planning and priority settingby requiring consideration of EPA and state or tribe priorities in developing grant work plans;
  • Allowinggrant work plans to be organized by environmental program area or by function (permitting, monitoring, inspections, etc.); and
  • Promotingresults-oriented environmental programsby recognizing that both outcome and output measures are needed for management purposes.

There are currently 20 environmental program grants eligible for inclusion in a PPG. Those grants are:

EPA Office

CFDA Number

Environmental Program Grant

Office of the Administrator 66.204 Multipurpose Grants to States and Tribes
66.605 Performance Partnership Grants
Office of Air and Radiation 66.001 Air Pollution Control Program Support
66.032 State Indoor Radon Grants
Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention 66.707 TSCA Title IV State Lead Grants Certification of Lead-Based Paint Professionals
66.708 Pollution Prevention Grant Program
Office of Enforcement, Compliance, and Assurance 66.700 Consolidated Pesticide Enforcement Cooperative Agreements
66.701 Toxic Substances Compliance Monitoring Cooperative Agreements
Office of International and Tribal Affairs 66.926 Indian Environmental General Assistance Program (GAP)
Office of Land and Emergency Management 66.801 Hazardous Waste Management State Program Support
66.804 Underground Storage Tank Prevention, Detection, and Compliance Program
66.812 Hazardous Waste Management Grant Program for Tribes
66.817 State and Tribal Response Program Grants
Office of MIssion Support 66.608 Environmental Information Exchange Network Grant Program and Related Assistance
Office of Water 66.419 Water Pollution Control State, Interstate, and Tribal Program Support
66.432 State Public Water System Supervision
66.433 State Underground Water Source Protection
66.460 Nonpoint Source Implementation Grants
66.461 Regional Wetland Program Development Grants
66.472 Beach Monitoring and Notification Program Implementation Grants

Guidance, Policies, and Regulations

National Program Guidance

National Program Guidances (NPG) are utilized by EPA and states, tribes, and territories to inform grant work planning. The FY2020-2021 NPG for the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relationssets multi-year goals and objectives and highlights key policies and procedures for the National Environmental Performance Partnership System.

Best Practices Guide for Performance Partnerships Grants with States (PDF)(41pp, 1MB,About PDF)and Tribal Best Practices Guide (PDF)(37pp, 500K,About PDF)Highlights key regulations, policies, and procedures for developing and managing Performance Partnerships Grants.

EPA-State Renewal of NEPPS Marking the 20th Anniversary (2015) (PDF)(2pp, 595K, About PDF)

The National Environmental Performance Partnership System: A Review of Implementation Practices (May, 2013) (PDF)(34pp, 629K, About PDF)

Policies

Grants Policy Issuance (GPI) 15-01 Performance Partnership Grants for States is applicable to EPA personnel managing 40 CFR Part 35 Subpart A programs and became effective on October 1, 2015.
EPA has several policies that may not focus exclusively on PPGs, but may impact PPGs:
Regulations
All federal regulations can be found online at www.ecfr.gov. The set of regulations specific to all Continuing Environmental Programs (CEPs), including PPGs, can be found in 40 CFR Part 35.
As with all federal assistance agreements, PPGsare bound by the regulations in 2 CFR Part 200. In addtion, PPGs are bound by to a set of regulations specific to all EPA assistance agreements found in 2 CFR 1500. Collectively, 2 CFR 200 and 1500 are referred to as the Uniform Grant Guidance, or UGG, at EPA.