EERE’s Technical Project Officers (TPOs) conduct periodic onsite visits (or onsite reviews) for projects to monitor progress and assess recipient performance. The TPO determines whether a site visit is needed based on conversations with the recipients, reporting information, and monitoring requirements. These visits provide the opportunity to obtain firsthand information and meet the key players in person.
Given the large number of projects in EERE’s financial assistance award portfolio, TPOs have developed methods to make the best use of limited time during the visits.
One TPO calculated that advance planning reduced the time spent discussing documentation from 4 or 5 hours to just 2 ½ hours. As part of her preparation work, she asks Recipients to provide more detailed information ahead of time on Davis-Bacon wages, Buy American compliance, and specifics on contract language and vendor certification documents. She also asks them to write up any best practices or lessons learned that they have identified during the project. She then asks them to put all of this information into a binder or a CD organized by topic for her on the day of the visit that she can take back to her office.
The TPO also provides an agenda in advance, so that people can attend only the parts of the meeting that are relevant to their job functions. This frees up time to visit sites where equipment has been installed or technologies are being developed.
The TPO said that carrying out the onsite visit in this manner gives Recipients more opportunity to highlight their project successes instead of covering paperwork. In her words, the onsite visit becomes “their time to shine.”
For additional information on EERE’s monitoring requirements, please see http://www1.eere.energy.gov/fieldoperations/performance_management.html.