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Tiered State Framework (TSF) in the Community Assistance Program – State Support Services Element

The Tiered State Framework (hereafter referred to as “TSF”) was created in response to state feedback and recommendations from the 2017 CAP-SSSE Program Evaluation.

The TSF enables CAP-SSSE’s shift to a performance-based program that allows FEMA to fairly evaluate state strengths and areas of needed improvement and ensure there is the necessary capacity and capability to perform the duties and responsibilities of the State National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) coordinating office as set forth in 44CFR §60.25.

Through an assessment process, the TSF assigns state grantees to one of three (3) tiers based off an assessment of key factors (e.g. capability, capacity, performance, etc.), to inform the appropriate:

  • Eligible activities
  • Required activities
  • Performance measures and targets
  • Training plans/requirements
  • Eligibility for incentives (i.e., access to a “plus up” or competitive funding source)

The TSF establishes a level playing field upon which the program can make fair judgements about the resources that states require to maintain grant eligibility, including the kinds of enhanced community and state outcomes that might be possible with additional resources.

Tiered State Framework Assessment Process

The TSF assessment of States includes three basic steps:

  1. States are assessed on average every three (3) years against a series of characteristics and benchmarks that demonstrate their capability, capacity, past performance, and level of planning and coordination. The assessment will be comprised of a two-phases:
    1. State self-evaluation
    2. Regional validation
  2. Each state is then assigned a tier (i.e., Foundational, Proficient, Advanced) based on this assessment.
  3. Tier assignments dictate the kinds of requirements and incentives to be reflected in statement of work (SOW) for the next period of performance.

The TSF Playbook and the Tier Assessment Tool are the two primary tools for performing TSF assessments.

States are expected to work with their respective Regions to understand the requirements associated with their overall assigned tier. In instances where the state and the Region differ in their tier determination for a given characteristic, the case is forwarded to FEMA Headquarters (HQ) to review and make a final
determination of the state’s tier.

Following Regional validation, assessments and final tier assignments are submitted through the Non-Disaster Grants Management System (ND Grants) as an addendum to the state’s SOW by the Regional CAP Coordinator.

TSF Playbook

The TSF Playbook (hereafter the “Playbook”) is the primary reference guide for tier assessments and should be used in conjunction with the Tier Assessment Tool.

The Playbook is structured with four chapters aligned to the four TSF categories (i.e., capacity, capability, performance measures, and planning and coordination). Within each chapter, you will find a detailed overview of each of the characteristics within a given category.

For each characteristic, the Playbook provides the:

  • Intention behind its inclusion in the TSF;
  • Benchmarks that must be met to be assigned into each tier;
  • Evidence required to prove that those benchmarks have, in fact, been met; and
  • Evidence submission guidance.

Tier Assessment Tool

The Tier Assessment Tool (hereafter the “Tool”) is an interactive, Microsoft Excel-based form required to perform state self-assessments. States select the benchmarks they met and provide descriptive details about the required evidence for each, as needed. More information on the benchmarks and requirements can be found in the TSF Playbook.

After completing the state self-assessments, states are required to submit their completed tool and corresponding evidence to their Regional Coordinator so the Region can populate the supplemental “Regional validation” section of the tool.

The Advanced State Partners Group (ASPG)

The Advanced State Partners Group (hereafter “the ASPG”) is a group of state programs that have reached the Advanced tier in the TSF with a score of 50 or higher. The ASPG’s mission is to provide expert input and offer best practices and lessons learned to support the continued growth and strength of state floodplain management programs across the United States. Member states include Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Vermont.  

The ASPG has two main goals:

  • Support state floodplain management programs in increasing their capacity, capability, performance, and interagency coordination.
  • Support the continued evolution of CAP-SSSE to a more transparent and performance-based program that invests in and incentivizes strong state floodplain management programs.

The ASPG meets quarterly to provide and adjudicate state feedback on transformational change to strengthen the nationwide CAP program.