The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs has announced efforts to increase efficiency within the department. Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch’s office says the plan includes changes to grant programs and business processes to make them more streamlined.
The changes are being called "enhancements" which are the result of staff recommendations and feedback from community partners. OCRA says it has made changes to the Community Development Block Grant programs that will make the grants "more impactful, streamline the application process and address feedback difficulties."
The CDBG enhancements include changing the information OCRA requests when a community applies for funding, which it says will help define the scope of a proposed project and the technical assistance needed, allowing communities to make adjustments and increase their application’s competitiveness.
OCRA is also increasing the grant award amounts by $100,000 for the Stormwater Improvements Program, Blight Clearance Program and Main Street Revitalization Program. The Wastewater Drinking Water Program will also see increased funding and a simplified application process.
Finally, OCRA says it will remove the 120-day window to approve Planning Grants. The department must now made a decision on the same date as the filing of the grant application, which OCRA says will allow a community to expedite the implementation of a project.
"OCRA is intentional in the changes we made and will continue to simplify and improve," said Jodi Golden, executive director of OCRA. "Finding ways to streamline processes to cut costs, increase efficiency and ultimately become better stewards of all resources is important to us. This allows us to better serve our rural communities across the state."
Additionally, OCRA is now accepting rolling applications for its Historic Renovation Grant Program, which will increase access to funding. The Indiana Main Street Program’s annual reporting will now be completed electronically and Main Street organizations will receive on-site assessments to determine capacity and training needs.
Golden says OCRA will continue to investigate ways to leverage technology to continue to improve efficiency throughout the department.