../images/ltrhdlogo.jpg   Legal Services Corporation
For 25 Years, America's
Partner For Equal Justice

Program Letter 01-2

John McKay

Board of Directors
Douglas S. Eakeley
Roseland, NJ

John N. Erlenborn
Issue, MD
Vice Chairman

Hulett H. Askew
Atlanta, GA

LaVeeda M. Battle
Birmingham, AL

John T. Broderick, Jr.
Manchester, NH

Edna Fairbanks-Williams
Fairhaven, VT

F. Wm. McCalpin
St. Louis, MO

Maria Luisa Mercado
Galveston, TX

Nancy H. Rogers
Columbus, OH

Thomas F. Smegal, Jr.
San Francisco, CA

Ernestine P. Watlington
Harrisburg, PA
Date: May 15, 2001

To All LSC Program Directors

From Randi Youells, Vice President for Programs

Subject: Matters Service Reports

    Starting on July 1, 2001, LSC is asking you to collect information on non-case activities as described below. This information will be reported to LSC once a year as part of the Grants Activity Report process.

    This effort is aimed at gauging, for the first time, the type and volume of work that LSC-funded programs engage in other than the handling of cases. We have long noted that our programs provide referrals and community legal education, that they engage in outreach, and that they work cooperatively with other groups to address the needs of our client community. We recognize that this work often entails a great deal of effort and produces significant results. LSC’s goal is to provide an opportunity for grantees to describe, and get credit for, services they are providing in addition to those traditionally captured by the CSR. This will enhance our capacity to describe to stakeholders at all levels of the legal services system — national, state and local — and to the general public the full scale and scope of legal services being delivered in communities across the nation.

    Planning for the matters service reports process was several months in the making. In designing the instrument, consultant Ken Smith and the LSC committee examined existing data collection models that states and programs have used. We then drafted an instrument and showed it to 22 programs. Their suggestions led to a revised draft that these programs field tested for two months. We are pleased to report that the test programs were supportive of the project and see MSR data as a potentially valuable tool to management and staff. Several respondents noted that the data collected could be used to paint a fuller picture of what the program does and can be helpful in fundraising. A few respondents even mentioned that collecting this data had a positive effect on staff morale in that their work is acknowledged in black and white and in the aggregate. In reviewing the test results and comments we have made several changes designed to make the process simpler and more useful.

    Since 1995, LSC has urged grantees, through the state planning process, to explore new delivery methods and broad partnerships that will move statewide legal services communities forward on the vision of full access to justice for low income people. We recognize that it is of utmost importance to re-align our information systems with that mandate to our grantees. We are seeking to supplement the existing annual grantee reporting process in a way that is simple and non-burdensome, yet powerful enough to capture the full range of services being provided by LSC grantees.

    The system described in the enclosed materials is addressed to achieving that goal. Its major features are:

  • It would be implemented as part of the annual Grant Activity Report that LSC grantees submit in March following each grant year.

  • It covers six categories of non-case "matters" including community legal education, pro se assistance, referrals, outreach, indirect services and other.

  • It includes both narrative descriptions and, where feasible, simple quantitative indications of the numbers of people directly reached by these services. It also includes opportunities for grantees to provide vignettes, or brief narrative examples, illustrating particular results of these services that, in the grantee’s judgment, are especially powerful.

  • The process can be implemented with only minor modifications in existing data collection systems. We have conferred with the vendors of Kemp’s Clients and the Western New York Law Center’s TIME system to be sure they can answer your questions about how to use their systems to collect the data you will need to report your matters. Other systems can be modified with minimal expense and disruption of existing procedures in place in your program, or we can explain to you how to use a standalone database to capture this information.

    The enclosed package details the information to be collected and discusses the collection and reporting process. The package consists of three parts:

Matters Service Report — the format for annual submission of matters as a component of the existing "Grant Activities Report."(1)  

Definitions of Key Terms

Guidelines for Data Collection and Reporting —
describes the data to be collected and suggests methods for collecting it

    This information and, in particular the quantitative information where available, is critically important. Taken together this information provides the capacity for giving stakeholders of the legal services program at all levels — national, state and local — a compelling picture of our accomplishments.

    We acknowledge that the "Number of People Receiving These Services" figures will in some instances only be estimates, not hard numbers, especially in the short run while the intake logs, software and other tracking systems used by programs are in the process of being updated. Some data, such as numbers of people receiving legal education materials over the Internet, may be hard to measure with any precision. We are not concerned about those limitations for our purpose, which is to provide opportunities for grantees to describe their full range of services in as compelling and powerful a way possible with a reasonable amount of effort.

    The Corporation is not attempting to assess "outcomes" or to "measure performance" with this reporting process. As the Corporation has indicated previously, outcomes and performance measures are separate from this effort and will be addressed in a separate, multi-year development program.

    Thank you for your efforts to collect this valuable information. We recognize that this places an additional data collection burden on you. In the design of the instrument, in the plan to collect this information only once a year, and in efforts we are undertaking to modify existing case management systems to all for collection of this information, we have attempted to make the extra burden as light as it can be. We responded to several suggestions that the programs that tested these protocols had to simplify the process and make it more useful.

    We realize that the implementation of this system will be a work in progress and that, when you start collecting the data on July 1, 2001, everything may not be perfect. Since it is very important for you to begin data collection on time, we are available to help you. For any questions that you have about what is to be collected, how it is to be counted, how to modify your case management software to collect it, how to set up a training program for staff, or any other questions, please email resultsproject@lsc.gov. We will try to respond to all inquiries within three business days. Also, by May 31, we will post on the RIN site under Reference Materials ( http://www.rin.lsc.gov/rinboard/rinboard.htm)  a list of frequently asked questions we are compiling from the pilot project.


1    The actual report submission mechanism will be an Internet-base program, as is true for all components of the existing GAR. The statistical portions of the report will be similar to, though simpler than, the current CSR reports and the narrative portions will be similar to, but much less extensive than, the narrative portion of the RFP process. Detailed instructions for the actual submission to LSC will be provided as a part of the GAR process.

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