No doubt the word “ Sequestration” is front and center in your vocabulary these days.  This is just a quick note to forecast how it might impact our mission.  For starters… the main impacts from federal sequestration (i.e. the federal budget reduction for some programs) will be related to the services that we provide and the planning that we do related to our federal cooperative agreements and grants.  The primary agencies that award us funding are within HHS (CMS, HRSA, CDC, SAMHSA) and USDA (WIC).  Not all federal programs are subject to the federal budget reduction that will go into effect shortly. 

For example, the behavioral health services that we provide via Medicaid are largely exempt from the reductions… but most of our cooperative agreements and federal grants are subject to the reductions. We receive a total of about $255M in federal funds that look like they’ll be subject to reductions for the remainder of this federal fiscal year.  WIC is the biggest chunk, at about $161M (or 63% of our total grant funds affected). 

How we manage these reductions will vary depending on how much flexibility the parent federal agency gives us.  As we make these decisions, we’ll consider grant variables…  like how much of the award we’ve spent so far this fiscal year and whether the grant is mainly service dollars or strategic planning etc.  For some programs we may be able to identify under-performing areas of the grant or agreement and focus our adjustments there.  

For example: Karen Sell’s WIC team has done a fair amount of planning already to mitigate the immediate and even mid-term impact…  like changing the food package starting July 1 (adopting less expensive brands) and identifying some current unspent funds.  We won’t need to put WIC applicants on a waiting list for at least a month…  but depending on how things go, we may need to start a list later in the year. 

I’ve asked the executive management team to work with each of the programs that look like they’ll be affected and start the planning process for making the reductions- focusing on identifying ways that we can make reductions that will minimize impacts in the field (like the way WIC will be moving to less expensive food brands).  Anyway…  stay tuned.  Things at the federal level look like they’re still in flux.  The more nimble and creative we are the better off our mission will be.