18-12, VISTA Program Evaluation

18-12, VISTA Program Evaluation

The Corporation for National and Community Service, Office of Inspector General (CNCS-OIG) conducted an evaluation of the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program to assess its effectiveness.  CNCS-OIG’s evaluation focused on member activity, project sustainability, and member attrition.

CNCS-OIG found:

  • Documentation maintained during the execution of a project does not contain sufficient details to validate member activities are consistent with program purposes or are the same as the planned activities. 
  • Project activities did not build capacity or enable projects to be fully sustained following VISTA support in 12 out of 27 organizations reviewed; 
  • The VISTA program had an attrition rate of 16.8 percent in the time period evaluated (FY 2014 – 2015), with the primary causes of turnover identified as other employment/financial hardship (80 percent), dissatisfaction with the program (15 percent), and medical issues (5 percent).

Based upon these findings, CNCS-OIG  made 11 recommendations to help CNCS VISTA:

  • Enhance the existing monitoring program to provide greater insight into member activity and program effectiveness;
  • Develop a standard for capturing the capacity building and measuring sustainability during and after the VISTA project is completed;
  • Strengthen the VISTA member experience to improve member retention; and
  • Develop and implement a strategy for improving member retention.

CNCS has taken some corrective actions since we issued the draft report.  CNCS-OIG will review CNCS’s status of audit resolutions after CNCS issues its final management decision on the findings and recommendations.