Standardizing Grant Portfolio Performance Measurement
By Adam Roth on January 27, 2021
When the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) introduced revisions to the Uniform Grant Guidance (UGG) in 2020, those in the grants industry noticed a common thread amongst the updates – a focus on performance.
Specifically, according to these revisions, Federal grant awarding agencies must now provide recipients with performance plans, and recipients, in turn, must report to these agencies on their performance.
These are not just inconsequential suggestions, either. These revisions clarified that if a Federal awarding agency determines there is “non-performance” on the part of the recipient, they can either cancel the award or reduce the amount of funding.
While there are many mentions of performance in this updated Guidance, there is not much clarification regarding what constitutes performance and how grant recipients can standardize performance measurement across an entire grant portfolio.
What does “performance” mean for grant management?
When the OMB discusses performance, they are referring to the value of a grant program. Instead of merely focusing on drawdown, recipients now should also monitor the impact they are making with the funds they receive.
Another way to look at performance is to evaluate the Return on Investment (ROI) of each effort within the grant management process.
Performance is simply not as subjective as it used to be in the grants space. Recipients must standardize performance measurement over their grant portfolios to ensure they retain funding.
How can an organization standardize performance measurement of a grant portfolio?
As the definition of effective grant management shifts to performance-focused, organizations need to reevaluate a common notion in the industry — “my program has unique goals.”
Yes, most grants support unique initiatives, but that does not mean a recipient needs to design separate performance measurement processes for each award. Since recipients now need to track the performance of all Federal grants, this piecemeal approach will result in an increased time and effort burden and runs the risk of introducing errors and inconsistencies in the process.
To streamline and bring efficiency and accuracy to performance measurement following these UGG revisions, recipients should shift from thinking of their goals as unique to thinking of their goal labels as unique and should utilize goal types for tracking.
For example, an organization may have to track teens tutored and homes built. While the label of each initiative is different, the goal type is simply a numeric goal, which allows standardization of reporting.
What are the steps of standardization?
To make this shift for an organization, there are four steps recipients can take to turn their attention to goal types to better standardize their performance measurement:
Define goal types
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?
This new emphasis on performance measurement can feel especially overwhelming for those who are also managing subrecipients. Luckily, shifting the focus to goal types will improve subrecipient management as well.
Those who have taken this approach to performance tracking have found that the standardization has improved their ability to truly aggregate subrecipient results. It has also reduced the risk of non-compliance because through standardized measurement they have been able to identify issues with subrecipient performance earlier in the grant lifecycle.
Looking for a partner to help you define goal types and standardize your grant portfolio performance measurement? Speak with an AmpliFund representative to learn more.