Reference Manual 7 - Chapter 8: Program Audit, Monitoring, and Evaluation

Note: This page contains Chapter 8 of Reference Manual 7 (RM-7) that accompanies Director's Order 7, Volunteers-In-Parks. Users of RM-7 are strongly encouraged to check this page for updates before utilizing previously viewed, printed, or downloaded materials.

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Parks and programs are encouraged to conduct regular volunteer evaluations and provide feedback on their performance. Volunteers should be provided an opportunity to give feedback on their experience, as well.

Assessing and Evaluating Volunteers and Volunteer Programs Using Surveys

The Information Collection Clearance Officer (ICCO) is responsible for ensuring that all NPS information collection activities adhere to the requirements of the “Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995” (PRA), OMB directives, and other applicable legislation. The acts ensure requirements placed on the public (individuals, private sector, and state/local/tribal governments) are justified and controlled. OMB guidance defines “information” as “any statement or estimate of fact or opinion, regardless of form or format, whether in numerical, graphic, or narrative form, and whether oral or maintained on paper, electronic or other media” and include requests for information to be sent to the government, such as forms, written reports, and surveys.

Per ICCO, whether the PRA applies depends on whether the information collected is by a volunteer or from a volunteer.

  • Information collected by a volunteer:
    • Whether the PRA applies to volunteers depends on the position type and what is stated in the volunteer service agreement (e.g., volunteers assisting with research and data collection, etc.). If data collection or research activities that will result in further analysis are written into the volunteer service agreement or are part of local policy, the PRA may not apply. One example would be citizen science volunteers operating under a signed and current volunteer service agreement specifying their research duties. Please contact the NPS ICCO for additional information or guidance related to the PRA.
  • Information collected from a volunteer:
    • The PRA would not apply because volunteers under a signed and current volunteer service agreement may be treated as employee equivalent for purposes of information collection, a volunteer experience survey may be collected from volunteers by their park or program. The survey should be limited to the need to evaluate the volunteer program and NPS staff should ensure that the survey will not cause undue burden to the volunteer (ex: length of survey, frequency of survey).

Program Assessments

To ensure consistent policy adherence, identify challenges and outline possible solutions, and highlight outstanding success, regional offices should monitor volunteer programs by conducting routine program assessments (also known as performance audits or program reviews) of parks and programs within their region, using nationally approved and recommended methods including internal controls reviews. The findings of this program assessment process should be shared with the park or program staff as well as the national office.

Performance and Conduct Management

When a volunteer performance or conduct problem first appears, the volunteer supervisor should immediately bring it to the attention of the volunteer and the volunteer manager and work with the volunteer to find a solution. If problem-solving measures do not improve the situation and/or the volunteer cannot be reassigned to another project or task without the problem being repeated, they may be notified that their services will no longer be needed (see Termination of Volunteer Agreement for more information).

Last updated: May 10, 2022

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