2021 has already started off as a stressful year for governments. But there are ways to mitigate some of the pressure, especially if you’re in grants administration. If you missed eCivis’ recent training “3 Resolutions to Make for Your Government Grants,” you can get the full recording of the presentation here.
Our Senior Customer Success Manager and Certified Grants Management Specialist, Maria Howeth, shared these three resolutions that you can make for your government grants to come out stronger in FY 2021: 1) Assemble your grants dream team; 2) Prioritize your cost allocation plans; and 3) Plan for the “What Ifs.”
Assemble Your Grants Dream Team
Having the right leadership in place is essential to establishing control around oversight, transparency, and accountability for your grants. If you don’t have a centralized grants office already, you need a grants team, at the very least, to help you streamline your grants process and ensure compliance.
Ideally, your dream team should be composed of people with the right communications and grant management skills to help you navigate the proposal process and monitor, coordinate, and report on any incoming funds received. This is especially important when preparing in advance for the single audit.
Here are your key team players:
- Grants Manager: Dedicated grants specialist to manage the daily activity of your grants. They know the funding requirements inside-out, will oversee compliance, and should ideally have an accounting or financial management background.
- Coordinating Officer: Manages at the organizational level from start to finish. This is the person who makes sure all of your team players are connected and on the same page, especially when it comes to project management and motivating staff.
- Senior Procurement Officer: Knows procurement regulations and processes and helps oversee compliance not only with purchasing, but also for contracts and subawards.
- Financial Accountant: This person is vital to helping you determine the funding amount you need for your program or project. They also can help you make sure your expenses hit where they should.
- Internal Auditor: This person must be aware of grants activity and able to provide general guidance to ensure the agency creates a clear audit trail and is in compliance.
Prioritize Your Cost Allocation Plans
With the urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic, many government professionals had to work in a reactive manner (figure it out later). However, it goes without saying that it’s not only easier but more cost effective to have a system or methodology in place that can capture expenditure data to support cost allocation plans and indirect cost rates on an ongoing basis. That way, you can later determine, How much have we spent in order to execute these grant programs?
Every dollar counts, so your cost allocation plans must be ready by obtaining the right information regarding costs, establishing policy mandates, and navigating emergency funding. The goal is to recover any indirect costs associated with the management, oversight, accountability, and transparency of all programs and expenditures. Many of us already know this, but you’d be surprised how many grant managers do not know if they actually have an approved negotiated indirect cost rate, which you can use to capture reimbursements and get more subsidized funding from your grants. You can get started with this free guide on indirect costs.
Plan for the “What Ifs”
If the year 2020 has taught us anything in government, it’s the need to be proactive and prepared for any future crises. Now is the time to evaluate your current grants management processes. Whatever policies you didn’t have in place before COVID-19, you need to think ahead and start establishing policies to address those “What Ifs” and future crises.
When taking inventory of your current grants processes, consider if you have the support you need. What are you using to track viable funding opportunities, awarded grants, grant performance, and any potential recipients? While many rely on paper processes and Excel sheets, they cannot support an increasingly distributed workforce and are more prone to human error.
Automating grants management can help you streamline compliance and project management so that no matter how spread out your dream team is, you can ensure everyone stays on the same page as well as utmost accuracy and transparency. For example, instead of one person searching on grants.gov for eligible award opportunities, automation can help you search relevant grants in half the time. Additionally, you can automate tasks and workflows. Track and report on individual projects and aggregate performance against goals and financial targets. Lastly, rather than relying on the finance team to do so manually, automation can help you determine full, defensible indirect costs on demand as well as help you assemble a cost allocation plan in half the time, so you’ll be ready for any future grant funding coming your way.
Ready to make some goals and resolutions happen for your grants? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can help.
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