When the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) introduced revisions to the Uniform Grant Guidance (UGG) in 2020, there was a notable focus on performance. These are not just inconsequential suggestions. These revisions clarified that if a federal awarding agency determines there is “non-performance” on the part of the recipient of federal funds, they can either cancel the award or reduce the amount of funding.

This has major implications for state, local, and tribal governments who are the recipients of federal ARPA State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds distributed through Treasury, and those who are recipients of awards from the Departments of Energy and Transportation. After the UGG revisions, federal grant awarding agencies must provide recipients with performance plans, and recipients, in turn, must report to these agencies on their performance. This is not uncommon practice in grants management, but funders often don’t realize that there are more efficient ways to collect reporting data from recipients that will allow them to remain compliant while doing much less paperwork.

What does “performance” mean for grant management?

When the OMB refers to performance, they mean the "value" of grant program. This means that a program is allocating expenditures on an award appropriately, returning data to prove it, and being good stewards of public funding. They also want to see demonstrated outcomes from a grant program and are evaluating if a recipient achieved their objectives or not. So, monitoring the impact you and your funded programs are making with federal funds is a must.

We want to give you some tips so you can standardize performance measurement across your entire grant portfolio and reduce the headaches that come with collecting data for reporting. A grants management system like AmpliFund can help you standardize the way you collect and track data for reporting and will automate those processes for you. If you don’t have a grants management system, these tips can be applied to your current methods of data collection, but you will have to manually apply these changes to your current process.

How can an organization standardize performance measurement of a grant portfolio?

A common notion in the industry is that “my program has unique goals." Of course, most grants support unique projects and initiatives, but that doesn’t mean you need to design a unique performance measurement process for each individual award.

For example, an organization may have to track the number of students that have been tutored and homes that have been built in their community. A lot of grant makers approach tracking these two types of projects based on what they are labeled. I.e., Students will be found in education initiatives and housing will be found in housing and community development initiatives.

While the label of each initiative is different, what these two programs that need to be tracked have in common is that the goal type is just a numeric goal. “How many students have been tutored” and “how many homes have been built.”

To streamline and make the process more efficient, recipients of federal funds should shift from thinking of their goals as unique to thinking of their goal labels as unique and use goal types for tracking. If you already have a grants management system, just quickly change from goal labels to goal types with a click or two and you will be ready to streamline your data collection.

If you don’t have a grants management system, you will have to collect data on goal types instead of goal labels in your current system. AmpliFund can help you automate these processes in the future and help you standardize data collection across your portfolio.

What are the steps of standardization?

To make this shift, there are four steps you can take to recategorize by goal types to standardize performance reporting:

1. Define goal types
2. Create benchmarks for monthly performance for these goal types
Measure what percentage the current actual performance is against the benchmark
Evaluate the different goal types against one another by comparing the percentage completed

How do subrecipients fit into this standardization?

Changing the focus to goal types will improve subrecipient management as well.

Those who have taken this approach to performance tracking have found that standardization has improved their ability to effectively and accurately aggregate data reported by subrecipients. It has also reduced the risk of non-compliance because standardized measurement has allowed them to identify issues with subrecipient performance earlier in the grant lifecycle and act quickly if necessary.

You may not be in the habit of tracking goals by either label or type if you are managing your awards using spreadsheets and paper-based methods of recordkeeping. A grants management system like AmpliFund can help you make this transition quickly because the system is designed to support and automate reporting in this manner. Request a demo to see how AmpliFund can speed up your current processes and make your grants program more efficient.

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*Photo by nanoqfu from Getty Images Pro.

Topics: Drive Best Practices

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