State and Local Grant Management Opportunities and Challenges

With the CARES Act, the American Rescue Plan, and now infrastructure funding, state and local governments have a large pipeline of grant options to help further citizen support. In fact, White House initiatives aimed at providing relief to citizens total nearly $6 trillion.

However, applying for and later managing those grants can be an incredibly burdensome, and often manual process. With a wide variety of variables that need to be carried out and measured, the management of these grants involves a large number of people from multiple constituencies both within a state agency and outside it including grant applicants and recipients, various levels of government and agencies, and affiliated nonprofits. Multiple surveys and studies have shown that grantee organizations spend more than 40% of their grant resources on administration activities alone.

Digital Transformation of Grants Management

As with every facet of government, grants management is also undergoing a digital transformation to ease the administrative burdens. Grants Management Systems (GMS) provide the automation needed to manage state and local grants from application through award and onto completion. A GMS will help agencies address every phase of the grant lifecycle:

  • Pre-award: from project conception to submission of a grant application.
  • Post-award: from being awarded a grant through the work done using that grant money to closeout.
  • Subrecipient management: ensuring subrecipients are meeting targets and objectives of grant projects.

Grant management software is not new, but it is constantly evolving to meet the new requirements of federal grants.

Need for Transparency

The grants process continues to increase in complexity due to heightened tracking and reporting requirements. Specifically, the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act) required federal agencies to increase the types of information available to the public on federal spending (including grants). No longer can the needed metrics be gathered in a spreadsheet-state and local agencies need a more digital, automated way to manage grants.

More recently, the Treasury Department issued an Interim Final Rule on the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) which says that local governments receiving ARPA funding must track how all federal dollars are spent, and then report the details on a quarterly and annual basis and publish these reports on a public website to provide constituents with maximum transparency.

Applying AI to Make up for Staffing Shortages

State and local agencies are chronically understaffed and this reality makes the complexity of grant management even more challenging. Understanding the intricacies of grant funding and management is a full time job and many agencies simply don't have the ability to find the right people. Others may have people on staff to handle grants, but that workforce is retiring and taking with them both tactical grant experience and institutional knowledge.

By moving grant processes into a digital format, state and local teams can use the knowledge built into workflow automated by AI machine learning to not only streamline processes but apply important logic. Many grants management systems will allow agencies to input grant information and see the likelihood of award or the success rate of similar grants so they can decide which efforts are worth pursuing.

GovEvents and GovWhitePapers have several events and resources that help anyone involved in the lifecycle of a grant understand how to improve the management and (ultimately) the results of federal grants within state and local communities.

  • Federal Grants Forum (June 15-16, 2022; Denver, CO) - Learn about COVID-19 related grants considerations, the 2021 Compliance Supplement (and new addenda), and how new grants are affected by the uniform guidance changes. Gain the compliance information you need to confidently manage your grants and protect your funding.
  • Southern Grants Forum (July 26-28, 2022; Charleston, SC) - Grants professionals will learn about the key requirements for managing awards and the latest developments affecting grant-funded organizations and the future of grants management.
  • Eastern Grants Forum (August 18-19, 2022; Philadelphia, PA) - This forum examines current requirements and evolving practices for Federal grants. Sessions will discuss how organizational culture intersects with grant seeking and how to build a stronger, more productive governance-management relationship, as well as compliance with grant requirements.
  • IT Modernization Summit (August 25, 2022; virtual) - This virtual event will bring together technology leaders from across higher education, as well as state and local governments to explore the ongoing challenges they face while embracing digital transformation. Leaders will gather to discuss improving digital services, modernizing technology, embracing change and developing a workforce to support future-ready growth.
  • Federal Grants Management: Improving Transparency (white paper) - This paper examines the important challenge of effective grant program communication and transparency. It argues that federal grant programs want to communicate to advance three discrete transparency objectives: improving outcomes and operational quality, strengthening accountability, and demonstrating results. It offers examples of different approaches grant programs have used in the past to make progress on these three transparency goals.
  • Good Financial Grant Practice: A Tool for Developing and Demonstrating Institutional Financial and Grant Management Capacity in Global Health (white paper) - The administration and governance of grant funding across global health organizations presents enormous challenges. The Good Financial Grant Practice (GFGP) Standard (ARS 1651) is the world's first and, currently, only international standard for the financial governance and management of grant funding. In this paper, experiences are described and lessons learned from implementing GFGP across diverse research institutions in India, Nigeria, Colombia, and the Philippines as part of the National Institute for Health Research Global Health Research Unit on Genomic Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance.

Explore GovEvents and GovWhitePapers for more insight on grants management technology and processes for state and local governments.

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