This table identifies some of the important lessons uncovered by analyzing Action Agenda progress and debriefing with partners. Also listed are recommendations being carried forward into planning for the 2016 Action Agenda.


NTA Development

  • NTAs need to be narrowly tailored and well-defined in scope to clearly be able to be accomplished in a 2-year implementation period.
  • Efforts to increase engagement with local communities succeeded, resulting in a 28 percent increase in NTAs between the 2012 and 2014 Action Agendas. This has increased the need for more planning, tracking, accountability, and management resources to properly support the system.
  • Produce better-designed, discrete, and achievable actions that satisfy specific criteria for NTA adoption.
    • Encourage identifying phases for activities or projects expected to take longer than 2 years.
    • Request a provisional cost estimate during the action development phase to aid evaluation as to whether an NTA will be achievable in the 2-year timeframe. This also provides a preliminary indication of the cost of the Action Agenda, which helps with the alignment of resources.
    • Anticipate the capacity of partners and consultation needs when planning NTAs that can be realistically accomplished within 2 years.
  • Ensure NTA reporting and evaluation resources are commensurate with the number of NTAs.
  • Focus the Action Agenda more closely around the Strategic Initiatives and better align funding with them.
  • Support NTA owners in using models and best practices from other successful projects, to the extent possible.


  • Lack of funding and resources is the most commonly cited barrier to progress.
  • Factors observed or cited for enabling success:
    • Increased attention for the NTA due to its inclusion in the Action Agenda
    • Development of systems to make information easily accessible
    • Establishing a manageable scope
    • Presence of collaborative partners
    • Alignment of diverse groups to share knowledge
    • Finding mutually beneficial solutions
    • Support from elected officials and boards
    • Being willing and able to pursue opportunities as they arise
    • Presence of individual champions for each project
    • Use of neutral convener(s)
  • Presence of a dedicated team to implement and support actions.
  • NTAs categorized as Strategic Initiatives were more often categorized as On Plan but were not completed at a higher rate.
  • Some local NTAs involved partners working at different speeds and levels of funding, making it difficult to fully implement the NTA.
  • The need for broad consultation in decisionmaking slowed implementation of NTAs.
  • The larger role of the Partnership is designed to support partners by creating the conditions associated with their success, including the following:
    • Procuring and aligning resources
    • Bringing attention to their high-priority needs
    • Defining mutually beneficial solutions with other partners
    • Getting support from elected officials and boards
    • Mobilizing collaborative partners and workgroups and being a neutral convener
    • Helping partners be nimble and responsive as conditions for success arise


  • Existing NTA performance measures were not always adequate for measuring progress.
  • Levels of detail on quarterly reporting of NTA status data were not consistent across different owners.
  • Scope and direction of NTAs often evolved from how they were originally written.
  • Continue to improve performance measures that provide meaningful and actionable information.
  • Enable rigorous oversight of reporting through more focused NTAs and reduce the probability of significant divergence from the original scope.