Chapter 1: The Technical Assistance Process
Using Technical Assistance

Time and money can be wasted on technical assistance if it is not used properly. Some issues related to effective technical assistance are discussed in the segments of Chapter 5 on leadership, problem identification, involvement of key stakeholders, and developing a technical assistance plan or request.

There are several other important considerations if the jurisdiction or program is to receive optimal benefit from technical assistance. These include the following:

  • Roles and responsibilities of those involved in the technical assistance effort should be clearly articulated. This includes the roles of the following:

    • Leader (provides overall guidance and influence for the process).
    • Technical assistance coordinator (provides local management of the process).
    • Stakeholders (provide and receive information about the issue, problem, or condition and deliberate the implementation of recommended changes in the jurisdiction or program).
    • Technical assistance brokers (direct jurisdictions and programs to appropriate sources of assistance; some may provide limited funding).
    • Technical assistance providers (consultants, program personnel, and other people with knowledge or expertise about the condition, issue, or problem under consideration).

  • Technical Assistance Agreements. There may be one or several documents (e.g., memorandums of understanding) if a formal technical assistance plan is developed. Three basic parties should be included in the agreement(s). They are listed below with information about what should be included in technical assistance agreements for each.

    • Technical Assistance Recipient Organization (jurisdiction or program).

      • General purpose of the technical assistance.
      • Responsibilities of the recipient jurisdiction/ program, including (American Probation and Parole Association, 1997):
      • Provision of information and program materials.
      • Assistance with logistical arrangements for site visits, meetings, etc.
      • Cooperation with technical assistance brokers and consultants.
      • Evaluation of the technical assistance process.
      • Reporting of any significant problems or changes during the technical assistance process.
      • Development of an action plan that implements technical assistance recommendations.

  • Technical Assistance Providers (e.g., consultants, program personnel).

    • Purpose and goals for providing the technical assistance.
    • Data and other available information.
    • Recipient's definition of the problem and expectations for the technical assistance process.
    • Responsibilities of the provider, including (American Probation and Parole Association, 1997; National Institute of Corrections, 1995):

      • Analysis of the problem.
      • Plan for providing the technical assistance (e.g., agenda for meeting, key stakeholders to be contacted).
      • Report of technical assistance activities and recommendations (within a prescribed timeframe).
      • Participation in evaluating the technical assistance activities.
      • Provision of followup assistance, if needed, within a reasonable timeframe.

    • Date, time, and location of onsite assistance.
    • Details regarding fees, travel arrangements, lodging, other logistics, and reimbursement of expenses.
    • Contact information for recipient's technical assistance coordinator and the technical assistance broker, if one is involved.
    • Expectations for professional conduct and confidentiality of site-based information.
    • Advisories regarding media relations and consultant liability, if any.

    • Technical Assistance Broker (if involved) (American Probation and Parole Association, 1997).

      • Coordination between technical assistance recipients and providers.
      • Provision of funding (in some cases), materials, and other resources for the technical assistance activities.
      • Evaluation of the effectiveness of the technical assistance activities, including review of reports and recommendations.
It may be advisable to request that all parties involved in technical assistance sign these agreements acknowledging their understanding of and agreement to the specific information within them. An illustrative sample agreement is included in Chapter 6.

  • Facilitation of Technical Assistance Meetings. Whether meetings involve outside consultants or are less formal gatherings to discuss information and implementation of ideas for program change gleaned from other technical assistance activities, such meetings should be facilitated. A facilitator may be the leader, the coordinator, the technical assistance consultant, or another person who has been designated to assume facilitation activities. Responsibilities of facilitators may include the following:

    • Arranging meeting logistics, such as meeting space and refreshments.
    • Informing participants of the time and location of the meeting.
    • Preparing and distributing meeting agendas.
    • Introducing consultants, participants, other speakers, and guests.
    • Arranging for meeting notes to be taken, written, and distributed to participants.
    • Ensuring that all participants are included in discussions and all points of view are expressed.
    • Facilitating discussions of difficult, sensitive, or controversial issues.
    • Clarifying responsibilities for tasks that are to be completed following the meeting.
    • Following through on any "unfinished business" after meetings.

Chapter 1 Contents

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Jurisdictional Technical Assistance Package for Juvenile Corrections Report - December 2000