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SAMHSA’s Performance Accountability and Reporting System (SPARS)

Supporting performance measurement and management for substance abuse and mental health disorders programs in the United States

Over the next several years, billions of federal tax dollars will be used to combat the opioid crisis, as well as other substance use and mental health disorders in the United States. Supporting this effort within the federal government is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. SAMHSA is charged with advancing the behavioral health of the nation by leading public health efforts. Their mission is to ultimately reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness among Americans. To that end, SAMHSA provides funding to grant organizations across the nation to deliver substance abuse and mental health services to communities. They also provide funding to organizations working to prevent substance abuse disorders in their communities.

Because of this large network of grant organizations and number of funding streams, SAMHSA needs to closely monitor the outcomes of persons receiving services from their grants. This performance monitoring ensures the funds are being used effectively.

Providing Data Management, Online Reports, Training and Technical Assistance, and Analytic Support to SAMHSA’s Grants

In 2016, RTI and our partners (FEI, Center for Social Innovation, Cloudburst Consulting Group, and TJFACT) were awarded the SPARS contract to consolidate online grantee performance reporting from three separate historical projects. This one system and project for SAMHSA’s grants serves users across their three service centers: The Center for Mental Health Services, the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, and the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. 

SPARS has become a one-stop shop for grantees, SAMHSA staff, and cross-site evaluation contractors for online data entry, reporting, technical assistance requests, Help Desk requests, registration for online trainings, and a library of resource materials. Additionally, the project produces periodic analytic reports and ad hoc analytic requests for staff across SAMHSA. With the breadth of resources provided by SPARS, grantees can report timely and accurate performance data to SAMHSA. This, in turn, allows SAMHSA to provide accurate data to Congress regarding the performance of its programs.

With the successful deployment of SPARS and its supporting activities in February 2017, RTI is proud to have assisted a long-time client with making a real impact on the health of the nation.