Press Release

The Controller’s Office Finds the City Should More Effectively Evaluate the Impact of Services Provided by Community-Based Organizations

Overall impact of contracted services could be more effectively measured, monitored, and managed if city agencies providing services in similar program areas develop shared practices.
August 30, 2022

The Controller’s Office today published the results of an audit that evaluates the City’s approach to measuring the impact of services delivered by nonprofit organizations under contract with the City. San Francisco contracts with hundreds of nonprofit organizations (sometimes referred to as community-based organizations) to deliver critical services to vulnerable residents each year. The audit analyzes the ways city departments measure the impact of services provided by nonprofits, as well as the challenges and benefits of the City’s program-monitoring processes from the perspectives of both departments and the nonprofits they rely on to provide direct services. Although individual departments establish and monitor the performance of the nonprofits under each of their contracts, the audit finds that it is difficult to measure the overall impact of these programs and services because departments’ performance measurement, program monitoring, and data sharing practices vary.  

The audit report highlights four key factors that hinder departments from sharing and using performance data. The Controller recommends that departments:

  • Streamline existing processes.
  • Strengthen program monitoring.
  • Standardize common definitions for performance measures in shared service areas.
  • Identify opportunities to share data or centralize data reporting among themselves. 

These improvements would help create a collaborative program evaluation loop administered by the several departments that contract for services in the same program areas. In turn, this would help departments and their stakeholders to better use program monitoring results to drive quality improvements and funding decisions.

Controller Ben Rosenfield stated: "Nonprofit organizations provide many of the most critical services that support our most vulnerable residents, managed through hundreds of contracts with more than a dozen city agencies. The City can and should do more to measure and monitor global impacts from this work across department lines. We trust the recommendations we offer are important steps in that direction and look forward to helping the City make meaningful progress.” 

The audit report was delayed as the Controller’s Office, other city departments, and San Francisco nonprofit organizations shifted their focus to respond to the pandemic. In monitoring the follow-up of the audit’s recommendations, the Controller’s Office will carefully consider the impacts of the ongoing need to respond to the pandemic. This audit follows a recent report from the Controller’s Office on wage pressures affecting service delivery in the nonprofit sector and will be followed by a review of financial monitoring results for fiscal year 2021-22, scheduled for release in the coming months.

When the audit’s recommendations are implemented, the City will benefit from shared performance measurement and reporting, especially when there are similar programs funded by multiple departments. The goal is to have departments better understand the overall impacts of the similar programs they fund.