In 2016 alone, the federal government (GAO)disbursed nearly $5.5 billion in grant awards to states and local governments. However, almost $1 billion in undisbursed funding remained in grant accounts. – GAO
For instance, according to the Grant Accountability and Transparency Act’s 2018 Annual Report, if Illinois had not complied with data regulations, the state would have not seen an estimated savings/ cost avoidance of $236,575,000.
Regular and detailed trainings are important to maintain effective internal controls. Everyone involved in grants management in your state needs to be fully aware of your processes and comfortable with any technology deployed.
Another solution to improving internal controls is having a centralized hub for your grants. This is especially helpful when sub-recipients are involved. Instead of using disparate systems, consolidate your information on one system to consolidate information and keep everyone from your team to your sub-recipients on the same page.
To ensure proper allocation of duties, your state must have clearly defined user roles and set goals for each of these roles. Setting these distinctions right away will streamline your grant management and improve communication.
Specifically, there are four primary user role types you should consider assigning: a team lead, impacted employees (employees who are actively involved in the grants process), a middleman between your organization and outside vendors, and an executive-level employee who can assist with internal roadblocks.
And if you are employing a workflow tool, be sure to assign user roles in the system upfront.
States Should Always:
Transparency leads to accuracy. When the grant management process is more transparent, there is more oversight and, in turn, less mismanagement.
As Michael Wood, former Executive Director of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, stated, most of maintaining accurate reports is making sure your books and accounts are in order. Therefore, maintaining proper progress reports is all about having a strong understanding of your reporting standards and building your record-keeping processes around those.
While closeout is the final piece to your grant lifecycle, that doesn’t mean it should be an afterthought. In fact, your state needs to be cognizant of closeout and preparing for it every step of the lifecycle. Your state’s best defense against missing grant closeout is a robust notification system throughout your grant’s lifecycle.
By setting up automatic notifications through software, employees will receive alerts on approaching deadlines and reviews. Some software will even provide notifications on spending thresholds.
The states that are making positives changes to their grant management follow similar processes and use similar systems that ensure they are drawing down their grant dollars appropriately as well as allocating their grant dollars as effectively as possible.
Specifically, states who have procured grant management software have seen an improvement in the following grant management practices:
Once states begin recognizing missteps and, in turn, start developing better grant management habits, they are likely to see more positive results from their grants. This includes reduced audit findings, increased drawdown, improved compliance, consistency, and many other things.
While improving your state’s grant management processes won’t happen overnight, there are three steps you can now take to start seeing improvements in compliance and drawdown.
Everything from the number of grants you manage to the tools you are currently utilizing will influence if software is right for your state. Fill out our grant management software readiness to see if evaluating software options is the right next step for improving grant management.