What is TRACS?
The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) Program is the largest grants program in the Department of the Interior (DOI), managing over a billion dollars in grants to recipients across the U.S. annually for species and habitat conservation, recreation, and outdoor education. The standards for program accountability are high, both in terms of the legal requirements set in statute and regulation for grant recipients and WSFR, as well as the expectations of Congress, the tax-paying outdoor industry, and the public.
The North American Model of Conservation has been called “The Greatest Story Never Told.” By implementing a standardized reporting structure and metrics, WSFR can easily communicate program accomplishments by rolling-up data to report on the partnerships performance at local, state, regional, and national scales. At the same time, WSFR can demonstrate that recipients are meeting Federal Grant reporting requirements and bring efficiencies to performance reporting by using new technologies.
What is Wildlife TRACS?
Wildlife TRACS, which stands for Tracking and Reporting Actions for the Conservation of Species, is the tracking and reporting system used by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) Program to capture conservation and related actions funded by its grant programs.
A newly redesigned TRACS system launched in mid-2020 was developed by WSFR’s Program Accomplishment Reporting (PAR) Branch under the collaborative direction of the Meeting of the Parties, Joint Task Force (JTF), and TRACS Working Group.
TRACS is comprised of two parts:
1) The TRACS system (https://tracs.fws.gov/login) provides a standardized grant reporting tool for grantees and grantors that meets or exceeds federal regulations. Note: TRACS also has a Training Environment, a copy of the live system that is used for training and practice purposes only.
2) The public viewer website (release date TBD) will display portions of that data to the general public and key stakeholders such as industry, congressional and local government entities.
TRACS also provides tools to:
- Certify licenses and apportion funding to each state and territory
- Maintain and reconcile Real Property (Lands) and Facility Inventory Records
- Allow projects to be viewed spatially with Geographic Information System (GIS) software
- Present program accomplishments on a national scale
Who uses TRACS?
The TRACS application is used by grant recipients and grant managers to create, submit, and manage required grant elements, such as the grant proposal, project statement, amendment, interim and final performance reports, performance questionnaires, and facility and real property (lands) records. TRACS also has an administrative module used by state and insular areas to enter, review, certify, and submit the number of paid hunting and fishing license holders on an annual basis. Hunting and fishing license holder figures are used in the calculation of grant funding available to states and insular areas.
TRACS serves as WSFR’s electronic repository system for all performance and accomplishment reporting related to those Federal awards administered by the WSFR program. TRACS helps to highlight program accountability by making it easier to demonstrate grant management and reporting. It will allow us to demonstrate accountability and transparency to our industry partners and elected officials.
Enhances Accountability by:
- Meeting Federal reporting requirements
- Demonstrating sound grant management
Providing transparency on use of excise tax dollars
Improves Efficiency by:
- Streamlining data entry and reducing redundancy
- Using modern, user friendly web technology
- Simplifying performance reporting and response to data calls
Enables Effectiveness by:
- Generating accurate, nationally consistent reports at various scales
- Allowing projects to be viewed spatially (GIS)
- Supporting efforts to tell the “WSFR Story”
What is the TRACS Enhancement?
TRACS is a software tool designed to simplify the task of reporting on grant performance. To be effective, software tools like TRACS need to be easy to use, intuitive and logical to navigate, and designed with the user in mind. The TRACS Enhancement was necessary to enhance the systems performance and to improve the experience for TRACS users.
The original version of TRACS was taken offline October 2018 to kickoff the development phase for the TRACS Enhancement. The enhancement has been developed by WSFR’s Program Accomplishment Reporting (PAR) Branch under the collaborative direction of the Meeting of the Parties, Joint Task Force (JTF), and TRACS Working Group.
The TRACS Working Group, comprised of 29 State and Federal system users, spent thousands of hours and solicited thousands of comments to simplify and standardize data fields and to improve the look and feel of the system from the user perspective.
The Working Group participated in six waves of initial (Alpha) testing and developed the data fields (requirements matrixes) and the system workflow and navigation (wireframes), which went out for multiple rounds of national comment for review by all 50 states and 6 territories, with thousands of comments collected and addressed to improve the system workflow.
The TRACS Version 2 Enhancement was released in June 2020, in accordance with the TRACS Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) President and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director.
What does TRACS do?
- TRACS has been designed to:
- Document WSFR Grant performance
- Standardize accomplishment reporting
- Certify licenses and apportion funding
- Maintain and reconcile Real Property Records
- Allow projects to be viewed spatially (GIS)
- Present Program accomplishments on a national scale
All of the activities funded by WSFR grants are organized by 14 standardized Strategies listed below:
- Coordination and Administration
- Direct Habitat and Species Management
- Environmental Review
- Facilities and Areas Construction, Renovation or Acquisition
- Facilities and Areas O&M
- Outreach and Communications
- Real Property Acquisition
- Research, Survey, Data Collection and Analysis
- Species Stocking
- Stakeholder Involvement
- Technical Assistance
- Training and Education
Within each strategy are Standard Objectives, which include a unit of measure, a target date and one or more activity tags that further define the objective. For some activities, the system asks for the target species or target habitat type(s), real property or facilities information. TRACS displays the location of the activity on a map, such as “statewide” or a more specific location if entered. Each strategy has a “Strategy Fact Sheet” that describes those requirements, see example below.