Does the New Transparency Bill Introduced by Senator Warner and Representative Issa streamline grant management? 

“..we need to submit 15-25 pages long reports each month, metrics reporting and financial reporting quarterly for just one federal grant that we received”, -a national nonprofit received millions grants from federal government

“Three quarters of nonprofits said that the complexity of applying for and reporting on government contracts and grants as well as the time they take are a problem”.  –Quote from Contracts and Grants between Human Services Nonprofits and Governments Study, The Urban Institute

  If you are one of the nonprofits struggling with hard-to-navigate reporting forms, countless paperwork to track and write, complex grant process requirements, and giant reports schedules, you should find the above quotes hit home.

The Federal government provides more than $495 billion annually in grants to state and local governments, non-profit organizations, universities, community groups, and other government and non-governmental entities. [1] These funds support a broad range of programs, including those related to defense and homeland security, transportation, health, education, and economic development and a wide array of other industries.

Just last month, the oversight committee's chairman, Darrell Issa (R-Ca.), announced new legislation (H.R. 2146, or the Data Act) that would impose a government-wide standard on reporting how federal money is spent, and require that all agencies and most recipients of federal funds report that spending to a new federal entity, the Federal Accountability and Spending Transparency Board(FAST Board), at an annual cost of $51 million through 2018 (Read full Bill). Notably, the DATA Act calls for recipient reporting to supplant the current system, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA), which mostly relies on agency reporting. Part of the new bill would create as well as implement full multi-tier recipient reporting, that might demand more reporting from grant recipients.

Across the Federal government, a long history of initiatives for accountability of Federal funds and tying these funds to program outcomes has marked grants management improvement efforts, however, has increased the reporting and grant processing burdens for many nonprofits.  While the bill is a welcome effort to improve federal spending transparency, it still concerns many nonprofits with a question: “How would that affect the reporting process for grantees?” 

A partnership is currently forming to address this crucial issue at hand. The Grant Professional Association in cooperation with the National Grants Partnership,  the City of Bowie, MD, StreamLink Software along with several other organizations are implementing a pilot to reduce the administrative burdens of grant funding at the local municipality level whilst increasing the transparency of the spending. Whilst this pilot does not focus directly on federal funding per the legislation the approach could be applicable. This approach is multi-layered in a collaborative sense, for example, procedure standardization across fields of services, simplifying grant funding application and reporting, and streamlining the processes using leading-edge grant management technologies.  

The legislation proposed by Representative Issa and Senator Warner also could be an opportunity for nonprofits to embrace the standardization reform and considering using affordable technology to streamline the grant management process.   The manual process may not be realistic and effective anymore, without dramatically effecting mission. 

 

StreamLink Software: StreamLink provides nonprofit organizations with web-based management software that increases operational capacity and efficiency.

The Grant Professional Association: GPA is the first organization focused solely on the advancement of grantsmanship as a profession and the support of its practitioners.

National Grants Partnership: The National Grants Partnership (NGP) was established in November 2004. It is a cooperative initiative among Federal officials, representatives of state, local and tribal governments; their executive branch grants offices; and nonprofit organizations. The NGP is an outgrowth of the work of the State, Local, Nonprofit and Other Subcommittee of the IAEGC, of the Interstate and Nonprofit Advisory Group (INAG/IAEGC), and the Uniform Guidelines Coalition.

For more on the changing federal reporting landscape, download our free whitepaper.
 
 Grant Reporting Whitepaper
 
 

[1]  U,S, Census Bureau, Consolidated Federal Funds Report for Fiscal Year 2007, U.S. Government Printing office, Washington, DC, 2007