Re-Thinking Grants Policies During COVID-19

On May 19th, the National Grants Management Association (NGMA) held its virtual 2020 Grants Training & Summit which drew many experts from the grants management community. The “First Data, then Comes Collaboration” panel discussion included 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).

These uncertain times of global pandemic have caused Federal agencies to re-think their grants policies. Agencies are faced with an unprecedented number of awards to process in a limited amount of time, while aiming to alleviate administrative burden on grant recipients.

As part of ACF, a large Federal agency, Sandra Webb noted that there are 50 individual grant programs within ACF. These programs have different requirements, even if they share the same audience. Sandra added, “The COVID funding that we received in the last month has really fostered a lot of conversation about what the commonalities are between the Program offices and looking at how that [information] could be if not collected the same, at least communicated the same.”

Along these lines, Sandra emphasized the need for both intra-agency and inter-agency collaboration, so the information asked of from grantees is not duplicated. She stressed the need to plan ahead to assist grantees, so they can submit the best application with the data they have, and be funded under the right program. As a Partner Agency with GrantSolutions, a Federal shared software service provider, ACF has the ability to network and draw upon the expertise of fellow grants managers across multiple Federal agencies.

Progress is being made. Sandra and the other panelists agreed that now is the time to let go of the past and embrace new practices and policies.

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