It is our job at SAMHSA to provide communities access to technical assistance and training that communities and community providers request. We will do this through the continuation of national and regional TA centers. But we will no longer continue a contractor-driven approach to grantee-specific TA. We will make use of local expertise and experience and will provide these services free of charge to the grantees and to the field at large. We also plan to provide additional dollars to grantees to help them to procure their own TA, should a specific tailored need arise.
I know how urgent the need for reform is, as a former SAMHSA grantee: I once was quite puzzled when a SAMHSA contractor put together a training for three days to provide TA for me – in an area for which I required no help. This practice will not continue any longer.
SAMHSA’s role in evaluating its programs is no different. I see evaluation as a critical need for all SAMHSA programs. I am committed to ensuring that all SAMHSA programs are evaluated in a robust and high-quality manner; however, this does not necessitate spending millions of dollars to fund external contracts to do this. SAMHSA will be bringing much of its evaluation work in-house. Grantees will no longer be asked to collect reams of data that this government agency doesn’t even use. We will, instead, be collecting key outcome measures, which federal staff will utilize to analyze programs’ successes and areas for improvement.
Changing the way SAMHSA does business – to be less reliant on an antiquated system that has depended on external contractors – will enable the agency to realize millions of dollars in savings. These savings will be turned back to America’s communities through the funding of more grants to implement the much-needed programs and services for those living with mental and substance use disorders.
Individuals, families, communities, and the nation at large deserve better than what they have been getting. I intend to do all I can to ensure that as many individuals as possible gain access to the highest-quality, most evidence-based treatment available. In many cases, Americans’ lives are depending on it.