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Transforming Grants Management: Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic

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This blog post is an excerpt from our latest guide with Governing and Grant Thornton, “Transforming Grants Management: How lessons from a once-in-a-century pandemic illuminate the path forward.”

You can download the full guide for free by heading here.

In the last year, the federal government has spent more than $3 trillion to stimulate the economy in response to the pandemic.

This deluge of federal funding has increased grant dollars to jurisdictions across the country, but it’s also opened the lid on existing challenges state and local governments need to urgently address if they hope to fully leverage this money.

Going forward, the federal government is expected to focus on increased oversight of stimulus funds to reduce and recover improper payments and combat waste, fraud, error and abuse. In the next federal stimulus alone, experts expect Congress to allocate at least $117 million to oversight and accountability. 

Challenges With Current Grants Processes

Grants management is essentially about moving funds from federal, state, local and tribal levels of government to recipients. However, the grants life cycle — and the workflows associated with managing this process — are highly complex and can be an administrative burden. This points to an opportunity to make grants management more technology-driven, automated and efficient.

Between 2008 and 2019, federal grants to states increased 42 percent, from $448 billion to $636 billion. Grants are growing as a share of federal spending and they have become a critical part of how state and local governments address constituents’ needs, especially during times of crisis. However, agencies contend with long-standing grants administration challenges, which are magnified as the volume of grant funding expands. 

“Government agencies have had systemic issues,” says Merril Oliver, executive vice president and chief customer officer at eCivis. “Year-over-year, the number of grant programs and the dollar amounts increase, so the funding distributed also increases. At the same time, there’s been a decrease in the amount of resources to effectively and efficiently manage these funds.”

A new Center for Digital Government survey found state and local governments face several challenges when it comes to conducting grants management activities:

 

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Lessons Learned in 2020

The pandemic has increased the demand for public services, while at the same time creating new funding opportunities governments can seize to improve service delivery now and in the future. However, tracking these expenditures and activities will be a near impossible task for agencies who don’t invest in grants modernization. More emergency funding may be coming this year, so now is the time for state and local governments to reimagine their approach to grants management and embrace innovation.

Employing a technology-driven approach throughout the grants life cycle can improve grants management, from pre-award, post-award and sub-recipient management through monitoring, close out and audit.

 

Ready to learn how? Reach out to our team of certified grants management specialists to see our grants management software in action.

 

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© 2021 eRepublic, Grant Thornton & eCivis. All Rights Reserved.