Organizational Standards

In 2012, OCS funded a cooperative agreement for the CSBG Organizational Standards Center of Excellence (COE). The two-year cooperative agreement coordinated – with input from local, State, and national partners – the development and dissemination of a set of organizational standards for eligible entities for the purpose of ensuring that all CSBG eligible entities have the capacity to provide high-quality services to low-income individuals and communities. To begin the project, the COE expanded an existing CSBG Working Group from its original 20 members to over 50 individuals. The expanded working group included a balanced representation from eligible entities, State CSBG Lead Agencies, Community Action State Associations, national partners, technical assistance providers, and external content experts.

The working group’s first task was a thorough environmental scan and analysis of existing organizational oversight tools and resources, internal and external to the CSBG Network. The group found that while there are many similarities across States in how State CSBG Lead Agencies monitor eligible entities, substantial differences also exist.

The project continued through a nine-month development process that provided numerous opportunities for input by the CSBG Network, including financial and legal experts, on draft organizational standards. All together, the network invested over 3,500 documented hours in Working Group and committee meetings and in national and regional listening sessions. The final phase included a pilot that engaged a subset of State CSBG Lead Agencies and eligible entities in a field test of draft organizational standards and tools.

In March, 2014, OCS published a draft information memorandum with the draft organizational standards. OCS received comments from a broad range of individuals and organizations and integrated all feedback into the final set of organizational standards. The final result of the COE and OCS efforts is a comprehensive set of organizational standards developed by the CSBG Network for the CSBG Network. The CSBG Network is to be commended for its commitment to ongoing performance improvement and strengthening accountability.

In January 2015, OCS released IM 138, State Establishment of Organizational Standards for CSBG Eligible Entities under 678B of the CSBG Act, 42.U.S.C § 9914. IM 138 provides direction to States, the District of Columbia, U.S. Territories, and CEEs on establishing organizational standards by FY 2016 and includes the final wording of the standards developed by the Organizational Standards COE. The Standards were developed in three thematic groups, comprising nine categories with the final set including 58 Standards for private/nonprofit CEEs and 50 for public/governmental entity CEEs. These categories include:

Maximum Feasible Participation

  • Consumer Input and Involvement
  • Community Engagement
  • Community Assessment

Vision and Direction

  • Organizational Leadership
  • Board Governance
  • Strategic Planning

Operations and Accountability

  • Human Resource Management
  • Financial Operations and Oversight
  • Data and Analysis

The COE-developed organizational standards work together to characterize an effective and healthy organization. Some of the Standards have direct links to the CSBG Act, such as the standards on the tripartite board structure and the democratic selection process. Some Standards link with U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance, such as the standards on audits. As a whole, the standards reflect many of the requirements of the CSBG Act, applicable Federal laws and regulations, good management practices, and the values of Community Action.

For Organizational Standards Resources, visit