Compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, the US government spent nearly $971 billion in grants outlays in FY 2020 (up from $764 billion in FY 2019) in order to provide public services and stimulate the economy. The US government obligations for FY 2021 have already reached $1.27 trillion as of August 2021. With the increased emphasis on enhanced transparency and effective fiscal stewardship over the past few years, significant focus on grants management has been achieved via regulatory updates, new laws, and other grants management modernization efforts.
As a result, resources committed to grant programs are required to manage increased administrative tasks, in addition to meeting the grant mission. Per the 2020 Annual Grants Management Survey conducted by the National Grants Management Association, respondents indicated that nearly 30% of their time was spent in monitoring financial administrative requirements, while only 6% of their time was spent evaluating overall grant program outcomes and impact. Additionally, in a January 2020 Government Business Council report, nearly 33% of respondents indicated that lack of skilled personnel, followed by 26% citing outdated technology, as the biggest challenges impeding their organization’s ability to successfully administer grants. These survey results continue to highlight key areas where both grantors and grantees can benefit from additional oversight and mitigation actions.
We would like to draw attention to two potential solutions that may help an organization mitigate some of the above identified issues:
1. Organizational transparency and more specific guidance can reduce administrative burden
2. Data standardization and technology improvements can drive grants management efficiency
Where Can Agencies Start?
Changes of this significance can be overwhelming to implement. A key is to start with quick wins and achievable tasks, such as:
Executing a pilot program for one program or cohort of a program to understand what works and where additional changes are needed before executing across the organization.
Establishing meaningful and actionable performance objectives that drive decisions and key investments.
Consideringopportunitieswith other grant-making agencies to leverage best practices, data, and technology to generate costsavings.
How Guidehouse Can Help
With more than 10,000 professionals working in over 50 locations globally, Guidehouse continues our long tradition of delivering innovative management, technology, and risk consulting to our clients. Some of our service highlights include:
Guidehouse provides strategy and project management support to the Grants Management Quality Service Management Office within HHS, establishing a government-wide marketplace of modern, high-quality, shared solutions that align to mission and business needs, streamline the environment to increase effectiveness and efficiency, and improve the user experience and reduce administrative burden for both federal awarding agencies and grant applicant/recipient partners.
Guidehouse supports a large southeastern state to manage nearly $1.9 billion in Coronavirus Relief funding by establishing a technology-enabled grants platform and accompanying processes, procedures, and policies for effective funds disbursements to state grants recipients.
Guidehouse supports the US Department of Justice’s Office on Violence against Women to track open Office of the Inspector General (OIG) audits of Grant Close-outs and Department Sponsored Conferences. Guidehouse serves in the role of addressing concerns brought about from the OIG audit. Guidehouse collaborates with the grantees, technical assistance providers, and the auditor agencies to resolve the audit findings.
Special thanks to Vasanth Ganesan for contributing to this article.