Why We Did This Study
The AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) is the only residential program operated by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Enrolling up to 1200 members aged 18-24, NCCC offers an intense, team-based ten months of service.
Many of NCCC’s activities duplicate those of grantees in other programs administered by CNCS that cost significantly less per member.
CNCS’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted this evaluation to assess the cost effectiveness of NCCC’s program vis-à-vis other CNCS programs with comparable activities, as well as other aspects of its performance. The evaluation focused on FYs 2012 and 2013, supplemented with limited information for FY 2014.
What We Found
Services performed by NCCC cost the taxpayers four to eight times more than the same services by CNCS’s other AmeriCorps programs. Each member’s ten months of service costs $ 29,674 (for FY 2014), more than a year’s tuition, room and board at a public university; for that sum, four individuals could obtain two-year community college degrees.
Yet, despite this substantial investment, NCCC alumni achieve no better long-term outcomes than alumni of AmeriCorps programs that cost a fraction of that amount.
NCCC is not meeting its enrollment capacity and suffers high attrition. In recent years, as many as 27 percent of NCCC members did not fulfill their ten-month service commitments. By contrast, AmeriCorps State and National (ASN) is oversubscribed, and its attrition rates are lower and declining. Moreover, NCCC lacks an effective strategy to recruit and retain disadvantaged youth, as required by statute.
NCCC does not assess programmatic performance objectively or by campus.
NCCC’s disaster deployments are inefficient, in that teams may be brought from distant locations, bypassing available teams nearby.
NCCC can do more to leverage the training of its members by improving pathways to employment and volunteering for alumni.
What We Recommend
To maximize the impact of national service, CNCS leadership and the Congress should reevaluate the appropriate balance between NCCC and other programs that cost the taxpayers substantially less for comparable service activities, and right-size NCCC accordingly.
NCCC should develop a comprehensive recruitment and retention program that does not depend on other Federal programs to refer applicants and provide better support for members experiencing difficulties. The programmatic performance of campuses needs to be assessed objectively, to promote accountability and sharing of successful strategies. Proximity and cost need to be more important in determining which teams will respond to disasters. Given the skills and training that NCCC members receive, the program could improve member outcomes through additional efforts to connect alumni to post-service employment and volunteer opportunities.