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Indispensable Strategies to Manage Board Talent

Finding impeccable board member candidates for your nonprofit can be tricky—but with a strategic plan it doesn’t have to be. Outlined below are five tips to help recruit and retain board member talent.

1. Recruit Like-Minded Individuals  

board membersTo assure passion, board members should appropriately align with your organization’s beliefs and values. To find like-minded prospects, begin your outreach with your existing inner circle. Consider reaching out to the following for referrals:

  • Current and past board members
  • Donors
  • Local community foundations
  • Staff
  • Volunteers

Tapping existing connections allows you to gain deeper insights into whether individuals are a good fit. In our recent report, board member, Kelly Medwick of Nebraska Children and Families Foundation said, “People like to serve on boards with others they like and respect.”

2. Define Roles and Expectations

To eliminate any confusion, establish board member expectations early during the recruitment process. Be honest and transparent with your candidates; clearly explain what their role would be within your organization. Define specific expectations, such as:

  • Board member benefits
  • Financial commitment
  • Job title and role
  • Responsibilities and duties
  • Time commitment

When onboarding new board members, give them a copy of expectations for reference.

3. Match Cultural Characteristics

In addition to aligning with values and beliefs, board members must also connect with your organization’s culture. According to the Small Business Chronicle, culture alignment is crucial to create:

  • Cohesion
  • Healthy competition
  • Loyalty
  • Self and organizational identity
  • Unity

4. Promote Effective Communication

A clear communication path keeps board members on the same page. Meet frequently with your team, so all board members are up-to-date on the latest projects, events, etc.

An effective way to maintain communication is by utilizing board management technology to stay organized, promote transparency and streamline processes.

5. Encourage Ongoing Involvement

The number-one way to keep your board members engaged and passionate is to encourage organizational involvement. Get your board members excited about fundraising, projects and special events by providing them hands-on experience.

Mark Collins of Cascadia Community College Foundation stated in our report, “Nothing replaces getting into the community and developing connections.”

Find opportunities for each board member to use their skills and expertise by aligning them with roles that allow them to shine. The better they connect with your organization and duties, the more they will want to get involved.  

Want to learn more on recruiting and retaining the perfect board members for your organization? Download a free copy of, “Board Management Tips and Tricks: A Community Curated Guide.”

Download the Board Management Tips Guide

What strategies does your organization use to recruit and retain board members? Share in the comments below.

Image Source: AFGE

The DATA Act Timeline: Hudson Hollister on Its Past, Present and Future

Following the second annual DATA Act Summit, we hear from Data Transparency Coalition Founder and Executive Director Hudson Hollister on how far the movement has come, and what's next for the DTC. Read the first post in this two-part series: The Data Transparency Movement: An Interview with Hudson Hollister.

U.S. CapitolIt has been one year since the DATA Act was signed into law. Federal agencies, government contractors and nonprofits have spent the past 12 months trying to better understand what the DATA Act will mean for them.

We spoke with Hudson Hollister, founder and executive director of the Data Transparency Coalition, about the progress made thus far, and how to prepare for what’s to come.

In the year since the DATA Act’s passage, the White House has continued the conversation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was named as the pilot program, and OMB and the Treasury Department released the act’s data standards. How do you feel about the progress made over the past 12 months?

Overall, we're really excited about the progress that's been made. The DATA Act was enacted on May 9, 2014, and requires the Treasury and OMB to figure out data standards for all federal spending. This is a huge job. They have to create common data fields to be imposed on the whole thing, along with a schema that explains how these fields relate to one other.

The biggest news on the DATA Act was the recent release of standards by OMB and the Treasury Department, which outlines 57 standard data elements and a common format, or schema, for submitting spending data. These data standards, along with the Treasury’s DATA Act “Playbook,” are written for government agencies. What should grant recipients take from these? Why should they care?

Today, there is not a direct requirement for grantees to use the standard data elements in grant reporting. However, this central data element repository could become the basic lingo of all grant reporting in the near future. And it’s a good thing if it does, because it will create more predictability for everyone.

Not only that, it means that software (like AmpliFund) may be able to automatically communicate with agency systems and the centralized system on grants.gov much more effectively than anyone can do right now. And that means cheaper compliance.  

Looking ahead, what should we expect from the federal government in the next 6 – 12 months?

I think we'll see flagship projects go public. We think some agencies are moving faster than others. We also hope to see more announcements out of the HHS pilot program. The Data Transparency Coalition will continue to host large and small events to provide a venue for these conversations to happen. 

In addition, we hope that grantees will engage with the Association of Government Accountants, which is the organization probably best placed to bring federal grantors and grantees together.

Agencies, grantees and contractors will all face challenges over the next couple years. For agencies, the challenge is that they have two years to start using these data standards to report finances, budgets, grants and contracts.

For grantees and contractors, everything depends on the pilot program. There is not a direct requirement to use these data standards in grant reporting (at least not yet). Instead, OMB has assigned HHS to complete a pilot program to test whether all this works.  

HHS is going to take the defined 57 data elements plus others in the data element repository, and will recruit volunteers. Agencies and grantees that are willing to try to use common elements in their grant reporting will help determine whether it’s possible to use that common list of data elements to automatically report to multiple agencies.

If that is successful, the standards will be rolled out universally. Criteria for the pilot program are spelled out in Section 5 of the DATA Act. That said, OMB has very wide latitude to decide whether the criteria are being met.

What is your top advice for agencies and recipients that are starting to prepare for this transition?

Agencies: Don’t wait two years. Look at the standard data elements, and figure out how they map to existing systems. Figure that out soon.

The Treasury has put out a playbook for agencies that has a lot of good advice. (The playbook is not public, but the Treasury published a one-page summary.) I’d also recommend that they participate in all of the forums that the Treasury and OMB are going to be hosting.

To grantees, I’d recommend that they look at the central data element repository. If you are one of the lucky grantees that has integrated your grant management already using tools like AmpliFund, then talk to them about how your internal grant management might relate to the central data element repository.  

Talk to the HHS DATA Act Program Management Office (PMO); they’re happy to hear from you. They want to make life easier for grantees and will be looking for volunteers for the pilot program.

 

Download Your Free Copy of the Federal Grant Regulations Guide.
 

 

Image Source: GlynLowe

House Representatives Introduce The Financial Transparency Act of 2015

9677861743 b778fcd041 oOn May 20, 2015, House representatives, Darrell Issa, Ralph Abraham and Jared Polis introduced the Financial Transparency Act of 2015. The act would standardize the way financial reporting processes are run to make data more accessible and machine-readable.

The Purpose of the Financial Transparency Act

If passed, the bill will require nine financial regulatory agencies to adopt consistent data standards for information gathered under securities, commodities, and banking laws. Agencies affected include:

  • Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
  • Federal Housing Finance Agency.
  • Federal Reserve.
  • National Credit Union Administration.
  • Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
  • Treasury Department.
  • Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). 

These regulatory agencies will be required to transform their reporting systems from disconnected documents (for example PDFs and plain-text HTML) to more accessible, machine-readable formats like XML and XBRL. Structured data will allow regulators to consolidate and analyze financial information, and enhance fraud and risk detection. It will also enable compliance automation for banks, firms and public companies.

The Financial Transparency Act provides:

  • Adoption of a legal entity identifier (LEI) within reporting systems to help agencies match filings with multiple regulators.
  • Data standards for financial regulatory reporting.
  • Improvements to reporting at the Security Exchange Commission (SEC).
  • Open, searchable data disclosure of public information. Note: Agencies will only be required to share information that they have had to deliver in previous reports. The intent is to make already available information more accessible.

This bill was referred to a congressional committee on the day it was announced. The Financial Transparency Act will be considered by the House Agriculture and House Financial Services to determine if it will be passed onto the House of Representatives and the Senate. No votes have been made at this point.

The Future of Open Data

The Financial Transparency Act would take the nation one step closer to cross-industry implementation of open data reporting processes by transforming the financial regulatory world in the same way that the DATA Act did grants and contracts.

To learn about the reporting precedent set by the DATA Act, download our fact sheet.

With data standardization, reporting can be automated, information made readily available to the public, and risk and fraud avoided early.

  Download Your Free Copy of the Federal Grant Regulations Guide.

How will open data initiatives affect your industry? Share with us in the comments below.

Image Source: OTA Photos

Why Grant Reporting Changes Will Increase Boards’ Fiduciary Responsibilities

5912231439 26f8836d3e mOne of the most crucial board responsibilities is keeping nonprofits financially accountable. And as open data initiatives roll out at the federal level (e.g. the DATA Act and OMB Uniform Grant Guidance), organizational transparency grows in importance.

Board members must understand how new grant-reporting changes will increase their fiduciary responsibilities by calling even more attention to fund oversight and performance.

Board Member Responsibilities

Board members are required to be honest and trustworthy role models for the organizations they represent. To help their nonprofits succeed and avoid unnecessary risks, each board member should be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of financials.
  • Enforce legal and ethical values.
  • Evaluate planning and reporting processes.
  • Make strategic decisions.

New Grant Legislation Increases Responsibilities

Core responsibilities remain the same. However, as public and private funders focus more on grant performance, and crack down on waste, fraud and abuse, board members must become even more accountable for their actions and spending.

To be compliant with new grant legislation, boards will be expected to:

  • Eliminate wasteful processes and projects.
  • Evaluate activities against performance measures.
  • Strategically allocate resources based on historical results.
  • Increase accountability of financials and activities.
  • Pinpoint fraud and abuse within their organizations.

By placing accountability center stage, board members can avoid unnecessary setbacks and ensure organizational compliance. Board members should work closely with their nonprofit’s staff to answer questions, such as:

  • How consistent is our strategic plan compared to our financial plan?
  • Are we meeting our goals and requirements within pre-established timeframes?
  • Do performance reports and activities appropriately match up?
  • Are all processes compliant with new regulations?
  • Are our expenses appropriately spent and documented?

Checks and balances should be a number-one priority for all board members.

Financial Monitoring and Reporting

Properly organized information allows boards to catch errors and challenges early, so unnecessary mistakes, lost funds and legal liabilities can be avoided.

To create more detailed and accurate reports, internal processes are essential. A structured system must be in place to compile, manage and monitor spend and performance data. All internal reports should include:

  • Accurate performance measures.
  • Financial activity.
  • Internal identifiers.
  • Timeframes, milestones and deliverables.

Verify your organization is running both internal management reports and financial expenditure reports on grant money.

Want to learn what your organization can expect to see from new federal grant-reporting initiatives? Download our free fact sheet.

  Download Your Free Copy of the Federal Grant Regulations Guide.

How will you help your nonprofit stay compliant? Share with us in the comments below. 

Image Source: Ken Teegardin

The Data Transparency Movement: An Interview with Hudson Hollister

Leading up to the second annual DATA Act Summit, we hear from Data Transparency Coalition Founder and Executive Director Hudson Hollister on how far the movement has come, and what's next for the DTC.

Data Transparency CoalitionThe Data Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) is now law, but there’s still plenty of action on the Hill for the data transparency movement. This movement, and related open data initiatives, are reimaging how government information is captured, stored, communicated and reported.

The end goal is simple: to create data-centric systems in support of transparency, efficiency, and reduced waste, fraud and abuse of public funds. We caught up with Hudson Hollister, founder and executive director of the DATA Transparency Coalition, to discuss the major initiatives pushing for transparency in Washington.

The Small Company Disclosure Simplification Act is currently under reconsideration. What is it, and what would this legislation mean for the open data movement?

This bill speaks to open data in financial regulatory reporting. In essence, financial regulators face the same challenges as grant reporting. Much of the reporting is still done with PDF documents. It’s very manual and very inefficient.

Six years ago, the SEC adopted the XBRL format to capture corporate financial statements as data. The problem is, it never got rid of the old format. Public companies, banks and financial firms must report information twice—once in the old, paper format, and again as data. To make matters worse, the SEC focused on document version and ignored the data reporting.

As a result, data quality is poor, companies are duplicating reporting efforts, and investors are not deriving the value that they should be from a data-centric regulatory system.

In short, the SEC’s failures have led to inefficiencies and waste, and the data process is taking the blame. The Act would require the SEC to stop using searchable data for most corporate financial reporting (the lower 60% of public companies), and go back to using PDF documents.

While we agree that excess administrative time and money should be eliminated, abandoning the XBRL system is taking a step backward. We’d like to see financial regulatory reporting be driven by searchable data.

As it relates to grant reporting, the XBRL format is a prime example of why we must fully commit to the DATA Act in order to reap the benefits of data-based financial reporting.

What about the Financial Transparency Act (or the MADOFF Transparency Act)? How will that impact the data transparency movement?

On May 20, the DATA Act’s lead author and a broad group of bipartisan co-sponsors introduced the Financial Transparency Act. The bill requires all nine major financial regulatory agencies, starting with SEC, to adopt consistent data formats across everything they collect.

In essence, this bill applies the same transformation as the DATA Act, but in the financial regulatory world instead of the federal spending world.

The overall trend is good, because Congress is realizing that if the government switches from disconnected documents to searchable data for all of this, then it becomes possible for companies like StreamLink Software to use software to automate these tasks that used to be manual.

The second annual DATA Act Summit is coming up. What are the Data Transparency Coalition’s goals for this year’s event?

Some federal agencies that will be attending the Summit are trying to figure out how to comply with new requirements they’ve received from the DATA Act. We’re hoping to convey that adopting data standards is good for agencies as well.  

It means they can use analytics to improve internal management. It means some of the headaches they face with grant reporting could go away. For instance, an agency could pull up a grantee and see all past awards and transactions on a granular level, which will enable them to make decisions about awards and funding much faster. 

We hope to convey that this movement, from disconnected document-based reporting to searchable, data-centric reporting, is good for everybody. And we hope to be able to connect agencies and grantees with the experts who know how to do that. (Register for the DATA Act Summit and DATA Demo Day 2015, June 9 – 10 in Washington, D.C.)

Join StreamLink Software at the DATA Act Summit! CEO Adam Roth will moderate a breakout session on recipient reporting, with Judith R. Zawatsky, Director, Outreach & Stakeholder Management, Integrated Award Environment, Federal Acquisition Service, GSA, and Christopher Zeleznik, Lead, Intergovernmental Recipient Engagement, DATA Act PMO, HHS. June 10, 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

For more on the open data movement and how it affects your organization, download our free fact sheet.

 

 

 

Download Your Free Copy of the Federal Grant Regulations Guide.  

Image Source: Data Transparency Coalition

Treasury and OMB Roll Out New Data Standards

5535613157 499f6d4863 zThe DATA Act was passed just over a year ago to make government officials and grant recipients more accountable for taxpayer money.

On May 8, 2015, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Treasury Department announced 57 data elements that will serve as implementation requirements for agencies, along with a DATA Act Playbook to ease the transition.

This post provides an overview of the new standards and playbook, and how they can help agencies start their implementation processes.

The Data Standards

The 57 data elements were released to create a standard for financial reporting that would allow spend data to be aggregated, analyzed and published online. Agencies will have two years to adopt them. Elements are broken down into six lists.

  • Awardee and Recipient Entity Information
  • Award Amount Information
  • Award Characteristic Information
  • Funding Entity Information
  • Awarding Entity Information
  • Account Level Information

Although these initial standards have developed a path for agencies to begin their open data journeys, elements are not set in stone just yet. They will continue to be developed based on public input through a GitHub portal, and agencies are encouraged to leave feedback during the open discussion periods.

In addition to the new standards, the OMB and Treasury also released the DATA Act Schema to provide data element relationship rules and a common taxonomy for the exchange of information.

Though new standards may seem overwhelming at first, the outcomes will be extremely beneficial. Capturing information as data will help agencies roll up their reporting—making ongoing processes easier, while increasing transparency and accountability.

The Playbook

To help agencies onboard properly, the OMB and Treasury Department released the DATA Act Playbook. This playbook provides agencies with eight recommendations to ease the transition:

  • Organize your team. Appoint a Senior Accountability Officer (SAO) to develop a DATA Act group within your organization.
  • Review elements. Understand the DATA Act elements, and offer feedback on standardization definitions.
  • Inventory data. Evaluate current information, processes and systems.
  • Design and strategize. Develop new processes to gather financial, financial assistance and procurement information.
  • Execute broker. Create a broker system to virtually format data with the DATA Act Schema.
  • Test broker implementation. Assure outputs are accurate, producing reliable information. 
  • Update systems. Integrate additional systems necessary to complete the process of standards implementation.
  • Submit data. Test the above requirements, and refine processes as needed until you reach the strategies that work best for your agency.

In addition to public input, industry leaders will gather at the second annual DATA Act Summit on June 10 to discuss further processes for data standard development.

Want to learn how you can prepare your grant management software for implementation? Download our free guide, “Public Sector: Grant Software Vendor Requirements.”

download the guide →

How is your organization preparing for open data regulations? Share with us in the comments below. 

Image Source: Phil Roeder 

Golden Rules for Keeping Your Board Members Engaged

Board EngagementYour nonprofit has a strong mission with a heartwarming story that needs to be shared with the world. Yet, this requires passion and involvement.

Enthusiastic board members are the golden ticket to success and growth. Promote engagement with these three rules.

1. Instill Board Member Passion

Get your board not only excited, but also passionate about core organizational values. As your number-one advocates, their energy will trickle down to others.

In our recent report, Cathy Ferguson from Girl Scouts of Central CA South said, “Make sure you recruit passionate people and let them know what the expectations are up-front regarding time commitment, fundraising expectations and attendance at events and attendance requirements for the Board.”

In addition, better connect members with the mission by giving opportunities to:  

  • Establish custom mission plans for each board member. Individual guidance on organizational alignment will help your board relate to your nonprofit on a more personal level.
  • Have hands-on experience at events and fundraisers. The more involved board members are, the better they will understand your nonprofit’s importance.
  • Re-evaluate expectations and alignment with organization values. Conduct evaluations every six months to a year to reengage and realign the board with their responsibilities and purpose.

2. Stress Communication

No matter how structured your organization is, you cannot excel without quality communication skills. Maintain effective communication across your organization:

  • Create a sense of transparency and trust. Be honest with board members about their expectations and performance, and make data and information easily accessible.
  • Encourage involvement. Challenge board members to get involved. If they feel they are an important asset to your nonprofit, they will become one.
  • Document responsibilities: Clearly communicate responsibilities to your board to avoid unnecessary confusion. Provide them with a clear path to success.
  • Meet regularly to provide organizational updates. Sit down face-to-face on a routine schedule that works best for you and your board members. Provide updates on goals, events, processes, etc. so everyone is in the loop.
  • Utilize board management technology. Board portals are a great way to streamline and centralize communication across the entire organization.

3. Utilize Skills and Expertise

What better way to get your team engaged than letting them shine? Encourage board members to showcase their strong points and help them excel within your organization:

  • Champion creativity during meetings. Inspire board members to share thoughts and ideas, and then involve them when bringing concepts to life.
  • Align roles and duties to areas of expertise. Ensure responsibilities are clearly documented. Use a skills matrix to determine who is the best fit for each role based on interest and qualifications. 
  • Provide resources to enhance skills. Especially for junior boards, offer training sessions and professional development opportunities to expand knowledge.

Board members are your most valuable assets; don’t hold them back from their true potential. Board member, Liz Ortenburger from Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada stated, “Commit to your board. Help your board members pursue their personal and professional interests.” 

Want to learn more on how to improve board member engagement? Download our free guide, “Board Member Tips and Tricks: A Community Curated Guide.”

Download the Board Management Tips Guide  

How do you keep your board members engaged? Share with us in the comments below.

Image Source: John Benson

 

Open Government: Views from Across the Globe

4607812450 47fa6a4239 m 2Open data polices, such as the United States' DATA Act, increase citizen participation, collaboration and transparency in the government. They also make individuals and organizations more accountable for their actions.

This post outlines open government policies from around the world compared to those of the United States.

United States Open Data Initiatives

Over the years, the United States has made great strides in governmental transparency. Although policies and regulations are still in the early stages of enactment, the United States is considered to be one of the leading countries supporting the use of open data. Currently, federal and state policies require and encourage stakeholders to:

  • Better facilitate data access.
  • Expand efforts to build improved government digital services.
  • Enable data to be searchable and machine-readable.
  • Publish government revenue, expenditure, employment and contract data.

 When data is publicly accessible, it becomes easier for nonprofits and citizens to:

  • Review eligibility requirements, and apply for grants and loans.
  • Search for and share government information.
  • Utilize digital services for real time, automated self-service data.

The Open Government Partnership

The United States may be on top of the game when it comes to open data implementation, but it isn’t the only country pursuing government transparency. The Open Government Partnership (OGP) includes 65 nations that share the following goals:

  • Accountability: Assure governmental figures can justify actions and take responsibility for failures to perform in the eye of the law or commitments.
  • Citizen participation: Encourage citizens to contribute opinions and ideas that can lead to more effective governance.
  • Technology and innovation: Provide citizens with open access to technology, and encourage the use of innovative technology platforms.
  • Transparency: Make government activities and decisions available to the public, and meet open data standards.
Specific global examples from participating partnering countries include:  
  • Brazil, Paraguay, Ireland and Sierra LeoneEstablishing new and improved freedom of information laws and policies.
  • Canada: Targeted 18 policy departments and central agencies to establish a government-wide stocktaking of federal data holdings.
  • Greece: Has publicly committed to boosting public engagement, enhancing public resources management, and opening data to improve transparency.
  • Mexico and Bulgaria: Putting spending information online to allow citizen taxpayers to view how money is spent.
  • Netherlands: Created a seventeen-action-item plan to spur “transparency, responsiveness and open access to information.”
  • Sweden: Launched Open Aid in 2011 to better adapt to opportunities created by globalization and technology.
  • Peru: Launched anti-corruption measures to convict public officials of crimes.
  • Ukraine: Passed the policy “Law on Administrative Services” and created 140 administrative regional centers to uphold good governance.
  • United Kingdom: Committed to create a publicly available central registry, containing information on owners and beneficial owners of all UK businesses.

With global collaboration and thought leadership comes the opportunity for countries to band together to enhance the quality of open government laws and regulations.

For more on the open data movement, download our free ebook, The Path to Open Data: Why Cities and Counties Are Sharing More Resources and Information Than Ever Before. 

 

The Path to Open Data

 

What are your thoughts on new open government policies? Let us know in the comments below.

Image Source: Steve Johnson

The DATA Act: One Year Later

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Last year, the DATA Act was passed to increase government spending transparency and accountability through improved grant and contract reporting.

Since signed into law on May 9, 2015, much progress has been made. This post highlights key success factors and challenges, and outlines what to expect in the coming months.

Successes

Over the past year, the government has strived to meet the DATA Act’s overarching open data goals via the following achievements:

  • Designated the OMB and Treasury to oversee implementation. An Executive Steering Committee, supported by an Interagency Advisory Committee (IAC), is set to govern implementation.
  • Compiled list of FFATA and DATA Act data elements. Public and private stakeholders were invited to discuss and share opinions on the data elements and data exchange standard via a GitHub portal.
  • Introduced 57 data standards for agencies. On May 8, 2015, the Treasury and OMB began to roll out data standards to guide DATA Act implementation; they also introduced a playbook of compliance recommendations. Standards will continue to be developed based on additional public input.
  • Conducted a town hall meeting to ensure transparency and collaboration. Held in the fall of 2014, the event was attended by representatives from federal agencies, state and local governments, and the industry at large. It was just one of many stakeholder outreach briefings held since the Act’s signing.
  • Selected the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to lead the DATA Act pilot program. The pilot program will help the government effectively test DATA Act implementation, allowing officials an in-depth understanding of what works prior to large-scale rollout.

Challenges

With any new law, there will be challenges along the way. Some of the main setbacks from the past year have been: 

  • Limited resources. Reconstruction of internal processes on an already tight budget may cause setbacks for agencies, making the transition process difficult.
  • A need for strong collaboration between numerous public and private stakeholders. Implementation of the DATA Act will require all parties involved—OMB, Treasury, federal agencies, nonprofits, software providers, watchdog groups, etc.—to work together cohesively for a smooth transition.
  • Short implementation timeline. Agencies will be required to integrate new regulations into their systems by May 2017.
  • Uncertainty at the recipient level. There has been confusion among grant recipients in terms of what regulations entail, making it difficult for them to prepare for compliance. Although some standards have been introduced, not all are finalized.
  • The Small Company Disclosure Act. Proposed by Representative Robert Hurt in 2014, the bill prevents the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) from using extensible business reporting language (XBRL), claiming high expenses for smaller companies. If passed, it could hinder open data initiatives.

What Lies Ahead

So what do all these achievements and challenges mean for the future of open data? Expected action in the next couple years:

  • The launch of the two-year HHS pilot program begins this month (May 2015) to test the ability to standardize spending data. Within 90 days of the pilot’s closing in 2017, a report will be filed on key findings.
  • The Data Transparency Coalition will host its second summit in June 2015 to examine DATA Act status. From there, government officials will be able to elaborate on weaknesses and identify areas to improve implementation.
  • The Small Company Disclosure Simplification Act, reintroduced on April 22, 2015, is currently under reconsideration.
  • In 2016, inspectors general will publish reports that document the completeness, timeliness, quality and accuracy of each agency’s spending data.
  • By 2017, agencies will be required to report based on standardized regulations; you can expect to see data published on USA Spending.gov in 2018.

For a better understanding about what your organization can expect from these federal initiatives, download our free fact sheet. 

Download Your Free Copy of the Federal Grant Regulations Guide.  

How is your organization preparing for open data regulations? Share with us in the comments below.

Image Source: Tim Evanson

Having the Right Data for Grants Management Software Implementation

DataProperly imported and configured data lays the foundation for accurate grant reporting and organizational compliance. Therefore, an important part of the grants management software set-up process is the initial data transfer.

Read on for details on how to keep your data organized. 

    1. Save Historical Grant Files and Records

      While it’s necessary to have historical files and records on hand for future reference, these do not need to be migrated into your new grants management software. We’ve found that the time and effort needed to relocate this data is often not worth the gains.

      Instead, we encourage you to save old files in a systemized fashion, and then focus on keeping current and future grants up-to-date in the new platform.

        2. Import Current and Future Grant Data

          Data is typically transferred via a series of imports, using a set-up template to map your data to software fields. (For AmpliFund, we help import current and future grant data on your behalf during our onboarding training sessions.)

          To make the data transfer process go smoothly, make sure your data is well organized. Employ multiple people within your organization to gather data. This prevents information bottlenecks, and helps you collect more data in less time.

          Have your team clearly define and map:

          • Accounting records: Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) rate, cash match percent and/or amount, in-kind match percent personnel and non-personnel, federal rate type, etc.
          • Departments: Names and unique identifiers for each internal department.
          • Budget: Categories to group budget line items and unique identifiers for budget line items.
          • Contact records: Record details for all organizations, individuals and staff involved in grants management.
          • Grants: Key record data, unique identifiers, responsible parties, etc. for each active grant.
          • Projects: Key record data, unique identifiers, responsible parties, etc. for each active project.

          Remember too that additional information can be input into your grants management platform at anytime. That said, the best path forward is usually to start with a small set of example data to fully understand how the new technology works, and then to add in additional data as needed.

            3. Establish Data Maintenance Processes

              In addition to uploading your data, take time to establish data maintenance processes for your team. Remember that data quality starts with people, not products.

              It’s up to your users to keep records and data up-to-date and accurate. A few key points to include in your policy:

              • Assign data input responsibilities to multiple people on your team to prevent fatigue and error. Make sure users knows what data points they are accountable for updating and keeping accurate.  
              • Put a system of checks and balances in place to ensure that data is checked for accuracy on an ongoing basis.
              • Require data to be updated in real-time, versus in large bulk uploads.

              For more information on how to adopt grants management software at your organization, download our grant management software implementation guide.

                   Implementation Guide

              Are you transitioning to grants management software? What stumbling blocks have you hit? Share them below.

              Image Source: justgrimes

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