Embracing New Technology to Manage Risk

The “First Data, then Comes Collaboration” panel discussion at the National Grants Management Association (NGMA) virtual 2020 Grants Training & Summit on May 19th featured several experts in the grants management field, including Renee Lobanovskyy and Becky Spitzgo of GrantSolutions (a Federal shared software services provider), Andrea Brandon of the Department of the Interior (DOI) and Sandra Webb of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF).

Panel members discussed a variety of relevant issues relating to data standardization, including the use of advanced technologies such as AI and machine learning to analyze and mitigate risk.

Renee Lobanovskyy and Becky Spitzgo of GrantSolutions provided some background information on Recipient Insight, a tool which gathers key data on Federal grant recipients from a variety of public data sources, using machine learning and intelligent automation. Recipient Insight was developed because GrantSolutions Partner Agencies wanted a better way to do risk analysis. GrantSolutions partnered with Johns Hopkins University to create the first pilot for Recipient Insight, which is now available to anyone in the Federal government who has a PIV card.

Panelists also discussed some difficulties they have encountered in obtaining staff buy-in for using these technologies. Andrea Brandon spoke of her experience at DOI, where she initially faced some resistance from her staff in using these technologies, as the staff were concerned that these technologies might replace their jobs.

Andrea added, “Initially, I did a lot of outreach to my staff, and we did a lot of different working groups to ask them to come up with different use cases and ideas…ultimately, when we saw a project that they could relate to, that’s when their juices started flowing and they realized ‘I can use this technology to benefit us in our current daily lives and our current business processes.’”

New technologies may be difficult to adapt to at first, but will be necessary to help Federal agencies achieve their missions and assist those they serve, the American public.

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