Future-Trust: Making Grants Count—Driving Fiscal Stewardship and Transparency in Lean Times

As the pandemic fades in our rearview mirror and we enter what could be a period of austerity, regulators will push agencies even harder on the need for grants management transparency and fiscal stewardship. In this edition of our GHFuture2030 series, we discuss how forward-looking agencies are addressing the many new regulatory updates, laws, sustainability headwinds, and focused management modernization efforts. With limited resources and a nascent grants competency model, reducing the administrative burden while driving efficiency will prove challenging. As US government grant obligations reached an astounding $2 trillion-plus as of June 20221 (up from $764 billion in FY 2019) since the start of COVID, agencies must begin to re-think their grants management processes.

While the government continues to make overtures to reduce the administrative burden of grants management, agencies continue to feel the pain. The 2021 Annual Grants Survey conducted by the National Grants Management Association found that administrative spending has grown from 10% to 17% of grants disbursed by federal agency respondents.

Here we discuss how an agency can shift the paradigm of grants management from monitoring to driving impact through additional oversight.

1. Organizational transparency and more specific guidance can reduce administrative burden

grants management 1

2. Data standardization and technology improvements can drive grants management efficiency

grants management2

Where Can Agencies Start?

Changes of the significance can be overwhelming to implement. A key is to start with quick wins and achievable tasks, such as:

  • Execute 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.
  • Establish meaningful and actionable performance objectives that drive decisions and key investments.
  • Consider opportunities with grant-making agencies to leverage best practices, data, and technology to generate cost savings.

How Guidehouse Can Help

  • 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 co-authoring this article.

 


3 GAO@100, “GAO-20-580: Agencies Provided Many Types Assistance and Applied Recipients’ Feedback,” August 11, 2020.
4 CFO.gov, “Managing for Results: The Performance Management Playbook for Federal Awarding Agencies,” April 2020.

It is time for grant making agencies to minimize administrative burden and move to higher value work to focus on the impact they can make through their grant programs.

Crystal Wolf, CGMS

Partner, Financial Services

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