Legislation is increasingly focusing on the importance of performance reporting to bring transparency to Federal spending. The underlying goal guiding this increase in performance reporting is increasing transparency, and finding ways to improve and increase access and equity through grant funded programs. When it comes to maintaining compliance with all federal awards, the Uniform Grant Guidance (UGG) requires standard reporting to ensure good controls are in place during an audit. What those standard reporting processes entail is not very prescriptive, however; giving your organization the opportunity to implement some processes and workflows that can work best for you.
Some goals that you’ll want to keep in mind when you are creating these processes are:
- Create standard processes to drive best practices
- Maintain your organization’s existing effective workflows
- Create new steps in your workflows or processes that will improve your efficiency
- Ensure you are following the guidance for your funding to maintain compliance
The processes you implement can include additional steps that are not specifically required by any key legislation, and may include the addition of departmental specifics, people, and additional data collection practices above and beyond what your funder requires. This blog post aims to provide some best practices - for both grant seekers and grant makers - to implement in your organization to drive best practices, maintain compliance, and see your impact.
Develop Sign-Off Procedures
A process that requires internal sign-off at key moments of the grant lifecycle helps provide internal transparency, and can provide you with opportunities to catch inconsistencies. To drive best practices as a grant seeker or as a grant maker, you must identify the key personnel that will need to sign-off on the pursuit of, awarding of, or monitoring of funds. While the personnel involved from award to award may change, the implementation of a specific level or role of sign-off will help maintain compliance and minimize audit struggles.
Standardize the Application Process
For Grant Seekers:
Creating a standard process for tracking the grants you apply for holds both your team members and your organization accountable for the success of your grant portfolio. Try to maintain application records in a centralized location to help ensure that your team members will not apply to competing, or the same, funding opportunities as their colleagues. Having all of this information readily at hand also allows you to track your success rate.
For Grant Makers:
Standardizing your grant application itself will ensure a fair and equal application process for all applicants. By creating a standard application, you can effectively evaluate which programs are best suited for your organization’s mission using the same criteria, which will help you distribute funds in an inclusive and equitable way. By creating a concise application that is accessible online, or through an applicant portal in your grant management software, you can further ensure that the application process will be both accessible and standardized for your applicants.
Application scoring is a critical internal function of making awards, and standardizing a review and scoring process ensures that each application is reviewed in the same way by the correct reviewers at the appropriate time. Creating a review process and workflow for application scoring creates internal visibility into the status of the overall applicant portfolio for your organization. It can also help you begin to determine what kinds of monitoring may be required for your pool of recipients.
Establish Reporting Structures
For Grant Seekers:
Establishing standard reporting structures once a grant is awarded will provide financial oversight and can help your organization adhere to a timeline with milestones that can be used for benchmarking. You can even create a process that keeps the structure of reporting similar from award to award to provide consistency in reporting within your organization.
For Grant Makers:
In order to monitor the performance of your recipients, you’ll want to create a process that requires standard reporting at regular intervals. Your process for reporting should benchmark milestones to a timeline providing insight into your recipient’s project performance. While there might be specific data elements in use for different funding streams, the structure of the reporting process itself can be similar.
See Your Impact
Make sure you are effectively communicating the process improvements to your team and your stakeholders. Along with your team, determine if your new processes align with and support the mission that you’re all trying to drive with this program funding. The goal is not only to maintain compliance, but also to ensure your team has the support to successfully drive improved outcomes.
You may find that implementing new technology could be helpful for streamlining your processes. If you think that grant management software may be helpful for your organization, we are happy to answer any questions you may have, and look forward to helping you find a solution that can make the most of your funding.
Topics: Drive Best Practices