To maintain the National Standard as a useful information collection system over time, periodic revisions are made to the system. About the National Standard contains general information on the goals and principles guiding all revisions.
The most recent revisions to the National Standard were completed and approved by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the NASAA board of directors in April 2014.
Note: The National Standard classifies fields as "Necessary" or "Optional." Necessary components are important data points that every public arts agency should be able to provide for management, accountability or communications purposes. Optional components are less critical, but should be defined consistently among the agencies that elect to include them in their systems.
NEA reporting requirements—with which all states and regions must comply—include National Standard data elements as well as some fields unique to federal reporting requirements.
As the field assessment results were being considered, the Working Group received notice from the NEA that the agency would be revising its Final Descriptive Report (FDR) requirements for all NEA grantees, including states and regions. However, specific details on those data needs were not available at that time. A joint NEA/NASAA decision therefore was made to place the National Standard revisions process on temporary hold in order to allow the process to dovetail meaningfully with changes in the NEA's data collection strategies. This decision was made, in part, for the sake of efficiency. (Nobody wanted states and regions to have to modify all of their guidelines, databases and information management systems twice.) It also allowed for the possibility of harmonizing the National Standard and NEA reporting requirements to the greatest possible degree.
The NEA's process for articulating new reporting requirements evolved in stages between 2011 and 2013. The Working Group and NASAA staff provided input to the NEA on the proposed reporting requirement changes to supplement the feedback that the NEA collected directly from Partnership Agreement grant recipients through webinars and e-mail. Final proposed changes were submitted to the Office of Management and Budget in September 2013.
In December 2013, the Office of Management and Budget approved new NEA Final Descriptive Report Instructions affecting NEA fiscal year 2015 / SAA and regional arts organization fiscal year 2016. This approval allowed the National Standard Working Group to reconvene and finalize a revisions proposal. The finalized changes to all NEA fiscal years under consideration are outlined in this memo to the field from NEA State and Regional Partnership Director Laura Scanlan and are also available in FDR reporting instructions format.
From January to April 2014, the National Standard Working Group reconvened to further discuss final changes to the NEA reporting requirements, to consider how these changes should affect updates to the National Standard and to formulate a National Standard revisions proposal. The process involved extensive consultation with the field as well as input from the NEA and technical advisors. The proposal was sent to all stakeholders, including all grants management software providers. NASAA received comments in writing and during an on-line forum. All verbatim comments were shared with the NEA, the Working Group and NASAA. In April 2014, a final revisions proposal reflecting the recommendations of the Working Group was forwarded to and approved by NEA senior staff and the NASAA board of directors.