Since 2008, BWSR’s Performance Review and Assistance Program (PRAP) has assessed the performance of local units of government responsible for the conservation of water and related land resources. The program goal is to assist these local government partners to be the best they can be in their management of Minnesota’s land and water resources.
PRAP was authorized by the legislature (Statute 103B.102) in 2007 as a means to monitor and assess the performance of local water management entities. In addition to conducting reviews, BWSR uses this program to provide organizational improvement or assistance grants to local government units (LGUs) in need and prepares an annual report to the legislature outlining the work conducted under the program.
The program was designed to be:
- Pre-emptive - so that problems are identified and diagnosed early
- Systematic - thorough, consistent and expected so that local governments can be prepared
- Constructive - recognizes uniqueness, charts a path for those needing help to improve and showcases successes
- Transparent - allowing for greater public awareness and participation
In addition, the PRAP should:
- Include consequences - that are proportional to the uncorrected deficiencies
- Provide recognition - for high performance
- Retain local ownership and autonomy - even when the State does not fully agree with decisions
- Maintain proportionate expectations - comparisons are inevitable but need to acknowledge wide diversity of capacity and budget
- Preserve the state/local partnership - the State provides review, training and resources as a partnership package
- Result in effective on-the-ground conservation - must add value to conservation and clean water outcomes, not become an outcome unto itself
PRAP Review Process
In 2022, the program was redesigned to accommodate for the ongoing transition from county based local water management plans to watershed planning.
The program includes an Annual Statewide Summary and three types of assessments.
Annual Statewide Summary is an annual tabulation of required plans and reports for all LGUs. This information is included within the Annual Legislative Report.
Organizational Assessments are routine, interactive reviews intended to cover all LGUs at least once every 10 years. These reviews evaluate operational effectiveness, partner relationships, and whether the LGU has achieved county water plan, watershed management plan, and/or SWCD comprehensive plan implementation goals. Organizational reviews also assess compliance with performance standards and the Wetland Conservation Act.
Watershed-based Assessments are routine reviews conducted with partnerships of local governments working together to implement comprehensive watershed management plans (CWMPs) developed through the One Watershed, One Plan Program. Assessment occurs when a CWMP has reached or passed the 5-year plan evaluation checkpoint. This type of review evaluates progress on plan implementation and analyzes partners working relationships.
Special Assessments are conducted with LGUs experiencing significant obstacles or performance deficiencies and may include BWSR Board action to assign penalties as authorized by statute.
The “assistance” part of the PRAP program comes through grants made to LGUs to improve operating performance and execute planned goals and objectives. Grant activities typically include facilitation, mediation or consulting services related to organizational improvement activities such as reorganizations/mergers, strategic planning, organizational development, benchmarking, audits, and staff and board capacity assessments. LGUs do not need to have been the subject of a PRAP performance review to apply for these grants, but funding priority is given to activities recommended to an LGU as part of a PRAP review. Since the program began in 2012, more than $125,000 has been awarded to LGUs around Minnesota. See the PRAP Grants page for information about how to apply
BWSR prepares an annual PRAP report for the Minnesota legislature containing the results of the previous year’s program activities as well as a general assessment of the performance of LGUs that provide land and water conservation services and programs. These reports contain an Annual Statewide Summary or Tabulation of data regarding reporting and plan status for all LGUs, as well as summaries and findings from all Organizational Assessments, Watershed-based Assessments and Special Assessment PRAP reviews completed during the reporting year.
See the PRAP Legislative Reports page to view past Legislative reports.