ACT-IAC’s Collaboration & Transformation SIG recently released a white paper titled “Industry Survey of Challenges to Improve Federal Grants Management”. The group surveyed industry participants to identify opportunities for improvement of the Federal grants management process and associated systems. The conclusions are pretty much what one would expect:
Develop additional standardization and a common taxonomy of grants data.
Creating a taxonomy is a challenge given the diverse nature of the grants landscape, array of participants, required traceability, difficulty in linking actual expenditures to goals, and the multiple layers of funds distribution.
Standardize interface standards and grants business processes such as application workflow, grant evaluation scoring and decision methodologies.
Proprietary and open source methodologies and tools can perform data management, virtualization, mining, and analysis. Public data exchanges and data sources may also prove useful.
Current websites provide significant amounts of data but struggle with transparency due to a lack of accurate data.
At the end, of course, the basic recommendation is that the government must establish underlying policies that address these gaps before the gaps themselves can be filled in.
This is the same refrain we’ve heard many times before: grants management is a complicated beast, which has grown organically as Congress has made laws to serve the nation’s needs. A complete, holistic approach to grants management is ambitious — probably too ambitious, frankly — but incremental gains can be made by establishing standards in specific areas. We’ve seen this work with the SF424, for example.
Still, kudos to ACT-IAC for trying to pull this project together into a coherent product.