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Grants Management Symposium

Through sponsorship from Grant Thornton, the National Academy of Public Administration presents the Grants Management Symposium—a collaborative discussion series designed to foster knowledge sharing and problem-solving in the grants management community. The Grants Management Symposium aims to assist federal agencies in adopting more streamlined grants management approaches to help address common critical issues and problems.

Grants Management Symposium - March 18, 2020

On March 18, 2020, the Academy and Grant Thornton hosted a Grants Management Symposium focused on the Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency (GREAT) Act of 2019. Signed into law on December 30, 2019, the bipartisan GREAT Act requires federal agencies to modernize grantee reporting by standardizing data reporting requirements and increasing public access to federal grant reports, among other provisions.

The Grants Management Symposium co-chairs, Dale Bell (Division Director, Institution and Award Support, National Science Foundation) and Andrea Brandon (Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget, Finance, Grants and Acquisition, Department of the Interior), shared their perspectives from a departmental standpoint. Dale and Andrea expressed that for the GREAT Act to be successful, there must be collaboration between not only federal agencies but also external grants communities. The grant recipient reporting burden for one community may not be the same for another, so it will be critical to leverage external grants communities in different fields and disciplines to drive the change required by the GREAT Act.  

Ann Ebberts, the CEO of the Association of Government Accountants (AGA), discussed how the GREAT Act will impact AGA’s membership, which consists of financial managers at the federal, state, and local levels of government, as well as from the private sector and academicians. Ebberts explained that the GREAT Act will benefit AGA’s members through the standardization and alignment of accounting principles, the reduced compliance costs and reporting burden, and the increased visibility of public grants information.

Hudson Hollister, the Founder and Principal of HData, explained how the GREAT Act will make tremendous progress in bringing the federal government closer to common data standards for grantee reporting. Hollister offered his insight into the development of the GREAT Act to provide Symposium attendees with some context for why this act is crucial to the grants community. Through the GREAT Act, the federal government will increase the amount of grantee data that is machine-readable, Hollister explained, which will allow the government to analyze grantee reports and disseminate data to the public more effectively.

Nick Hart, the CEO of the Data Coalition, voiced the need to use the process of adopting change prompted by the GREAT Act as a learning opportunity from which there can be iterations of improvement. Hart noted that there will likely be a disparity in implementation as some agencies may struggle to introduce certain changes required by the GREAT Act. To reduce the disparity in implementation across agencies, there should be a sustained discussion within the grants management community. The grants management community has an onus to produce a burden reduction over time, which will be more feasible when the community places high importance on the strategic value of data and maintains an interest in advancing data standardization, even when other priorities come into play.

Rhea Hubbard, a Senior Policy Analyst at OMB, shared with Symposium attendees OMB updates on the GREAT Act implementation. Hubbard shared how OMB’s past and ongoing work, such as the issuance of Memorandum M-18-24, their efforts to make progress on the Results-Oriented Accountability for Grants CAP Goal, and their call for public comments on proposed changes to 2 CFR, all support the GREAT Act. Hubbard reiterated that OMB is committed to reducing reporting burden and increasing transparency, making it easier for grant recipients to report for federal awards.

Following all presentations, Symposium attendees participated in a discussion with the guest speakers.

Download the PowerPoint

Grants Management Symposium - January 23, 2020

The National Academy of Public Administration and Grant Thornton hosted a Grants Management Symposium on Thursday, January 23rd, 2020, about the use of audit data to promote change in the grants space and the unintended consequences of grants management rules.

Eloise Pasachoff, a Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center, discussed her draft paper, Federal Grant Rules and Realities in the Intergovernmental Administrative State: Compliance, Performance, and Politics. Pasachoff highlighted the administrative side of federal grants, which are often laden with burdensome enforcement structures and detailed rules. She shared how grantees and grantmaking institutions often yield to unwarranted assumptions about audits that may stall grantees' programmatic innovation. The resulting effect of unintended consequences of grants management rules is that grantees and grant institutions alike prioritize administrative compliance and enforcement over programmatic outcomes and substantive oversight. Pasachoff's paper is forthcoming in the Yale Journal on Regulation in Spring 2020.

View the Paper's Abstract

Gary McKeon, Director of FEMA's Audit Liaison Office, and his colleagues, Carroll Schneider and Cory Sherb, presented on the FEMA Compliance Dashboard (COD), which is an agency-wide interactive audit dashboard. The dashboard identifies questioned costs, compliance violations, recurring findings, and systemic problems from audits. Since the implementation of the COD, FEMA has increased efficiencies by reducing duplication and the level of effort required in the audit process. The dashboard also eliminated the need for static reporting.

For information on another interactive dashboard from FEMA, the Performance Audit Dashboard (PAD), that is designed to track, monitor, and report on the entire audit life cycle, audit follow up and Department of Homeland Security audit metrics, please see this short video from FEMA.

View the FEMA Compliance Dashboard Handout

The Office of Management and Budget shared updates on the Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency (GREAT) Act of 2019 and provided more information on the act's timeline to issue and implement standards. This act will require federal agencies to modernize grantee reporting and adopt data reporting standards.

Proposed Changes to 2 CFR: The Office of Management and Budget calls for public comment on the changes proposed to Title 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Subtitle A-OMB Guidance for Grants and Agreements. The public comment period remains open until March 23rd, 2020. The 2 CFR revision reflects the foundational shift detailed in the President's Management Agenda, which calls for more result-oriented accountability in federal grant programs. Find additional information and join the community of practice here.

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Grants Management Symposium - October 23, 2019

The National Academy of Public Administration and Grant Thornton hosted a discussion on reducing the administrative burden in the research grants management community on Wednesday, October 23, 2019. The research community has found success in working with the federal government to streamline and standardize administrative processes. Speakers included:

  • Alex Albinak, Executive Committee, Federal Demonstration Partnership
  • Jean Feldman, Head, Policy Office, Division of Institution & Award Support, National Science Foundation

The guest speakers presented real examples of how to reduce the administrative burden and shared lessons learned that are transferrable to the non-research grants management community.

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Grants Management Symposium - July 12, 2019

On July 12, 2019, the National Academy of Public Administration and Grant Thornton hosted a session on grants management strategies and barriers to improving economic mobility outcomes. Speakers included:

  • Mishaela Duran, Director, ACF Office of Regional Operations, HHS
  • Duke Storen, Commissioner, Virginia Department of Human Services
  • Nannette Bowler, Director, Fairfax County Department of Family Services

The guest speakers spoke to how making data collaborative, automating data processes, and implementing innovative practices will provide the opportunity to move away from burdensome compliance requirements and focus more on the grant recipient outcomes.

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Grants Management Symposium - March 12, 2019

The Grants Management Symposium on March 12, 2019, hosted by the National Academy of Public Administration and Grant Thornton, covered the topic of improving grants management outcomes through the integration of data, analytics, and evaluation methods. Speakers included:

  • Erin Dalton, Deputy Director of Human Services, Allegheny County
  • Dan Lavallee, Director of Government and Business Relations, Government Programs, UPMC Health Plan
  • Ann Flagg, Director, Center for Child and Family Well-Being, American Public Human Services Association

The guest speakers discussed examples of state and local innovations in data integration practices aimed at improving grant outcomes.

Grants Management Symposium - October 25, 2018

On October 25, 2018, the National Academy of Public Administration and Grant Thornton hosted a Grants Management Symposium on Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goal 8: Results-Oriented Accountability for Grants. Speakers included:

  • Sheila Conley, Deputy Assistant Secretary and Deputy Chief Financial Officer, HHS
  • Victoria Collin, Chief, Management Controls and Assistance Branch, EOP, OMB
  • Gil Tran, Senior Policy Analyst, EOP, OMB
  • Nicole Waldeck, Policy Analyst, EOP, OMB
  • Sara Wasserteil, Director, Mission Measurement
  • Chris Cyr, Vice President of Data & Analytics, Mission Measurement

The guest speakers shared updates on CAP Goal 8 and strategies for Memo M-18-24 to reduce the reporting burden on grant recipients. Guests heard about the Impact Genome Project from Mission Measurement that has standardized outcomes in the social sector to streamline how nonprofits measure, report, and benchmark their impact.

Grants Management Symposium - June 28, 2018

The National Academy of Public Administration and Grant Thornton hosted a Grants Management Symposium on June 28, 2018. The subject of this event was Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goal 8: Results-Oriented Accountability for Grants and agency leadership. Speakers included:

  • Rhea Hubbard, Senior Policy Analyst, OMB
  • Doug Webster, Chief Financial Officer, U.S. Department of Education

The guest speakers engaged in a discussion on how agency leadership should involve programmatic personnel in conversations about grants management guidance and what knowledge and resources training personnel need to understand the guidance.

Grants Management Symposium - April 3, 2018

On April 3, 2018, the National Academy of Public Administration kicked off the Grants Management Symposium with the first event. The Symposium Co-Chairs, Dale Bell and Andrea Brandon, introduced the Grants Management Symposium by highlighting the Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goal 8: Results-Oriented Accountability of the President's Management Agenda and the need for a risk-based and data-driven framework that balances compliance requirements with demonstrating successful results.

The quarterly Grants Management Symposium events serve as an avenue for stakeholders to gather and revamp grants management through innovation, communication, and collaboration. Through this effort, government leaders and subject matter experts discuss grants management issues, share lessons learned, and gather effective practices.

Download the PowerPoint