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SAMHSA Has Improved Outcome Reporting for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant


SAMHSA leads public health efforts to improve the quality and availability of prevention and treatment services for substance abuse and mental illness. One such effort is the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant (SABG) program, which provides over $1.7 billion each fiscal year (FY) to grantees-i.e., States, territories, and tribes-to prevent and treat substance abuse. In 2003, the Office of Management and Budget had rated the SABG program as ineffective and given it a low score on program results and accountability. However, in recent years, SAMHSA reports that it has made significant strides in improving performance and outcome measurement for its block grant programs, including the SABG program.


We collected and reviewed the SABG applications for FYs 2011 and 2012 from 10 purposively selected grantees to determine whether these applications contained data for outcome measures. We also collected and reviewed documentation related to all onsite reviews of SABG grantees that SAMHSA conducted in FYs 2011 and 2012. We determined for each grantee whether SAMHSA required followup actions, suggested potential enhancements, or identified technical assistance needs related to outcome measures.


In conjunction with States and other stakeholders, SAMHSA developed national outcome measures (NOMs) to assess performance and improve accountability of its programs. Each NOM is associated with an expected outcome, as well as with treatment and/or prevention measures that are used to determine whether the expected outcome was achieved. Of the 10 selected grantees in our review, all but 1 had data in their applications for FYs 2011 and 2012 regarding all measures related to treatment and prevention. The remaining grantee did not have data for one of the seven treatment measures; it stated that it was developing a new system to adequately collect data for that measure. However, that grantee did have data for all prevention measures. Further, SAMHSA conducted onsite reviews and provided technical assistance to grantees, in part to improve the reporting of outcomes.

This report does not contain recommendations.