Cover: The Federal Voting Assistance Program and the Road Ahead

The Federal Voting Assistance Program and the Road Ahead

Achieving Institutional Change Through Analysis and Collaboration

Published Oct 26, 2015

by Victoria A. Greenfield, Shoshana R. Shelton, Edward Balkovich, John S. Davis II, David M. Adamson


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Research Questions

  1. How does the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), which is charged with administering the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) of 1986, serve UOVACA voters?
  2. What is FVAP's role in the context of a larger voting assistance system, and how can it play that role more effectively?
  3. How can FVAP build on recent organizational gains?

In early 2013, the leadership of the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) commissioned the RAND National Defense Research Institute to undertake a collaborative, multiyear work program known as "FVAP and the Road Ahead." The project was established to assist FVAP in aligning its strategy and operations to better serve its mission and stakeholders, and to strengthen FVAP's capacity to set its own course, greet change, and communicate its role in the voting community. The RAND project team worked with FVAP to compare, reconcile, and align what was in the agency's strategy and typical of its operations and what should be, through an evidence-based approach that included logic modeling, stakeholder outreach, and a requirements assessment. This report documents the project and resulting changes within FVAP, which enabled a significant realignment of the agency's strategy and operations. The report concludes with final recommendations and guidance largely proposed to lock in and build on gains.

Key Findings

FVAP Is Making Progress

  • FVAP relies heavily on intermediaries, such as Voting Assistance Officers, to reach UOCAVA voters.
  • To play this role more effectively, FVAP needed to take several steps: (1) Create a clearer, shared understanding of its mission; (2) build trust and strengthen its relationships with its stakeholders, and (3) embrace a culture and principles of effectiveness.
  • FVAP has taken substantial steps to become one FVAP, improve its relationships with stakeholders, and embrace effectiveness. For example, FVAP reoriented its mission, reorganized its operations, and began providing more hands-on voting assistance.


  • Through training, especially in-person training, FVAP can engage its intermediaries more directly, get closer to UOCAVA voters, and reap other ancillary benefits.
  • To lock in and build on recent gains, FVAP will need to continue working on unifying the organization, improving its relationships with stakeholders, and embracing effectiveness.

This research was sponsored by the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center and the Acquisition and Technology Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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