Each day grant professionals focus on supporting their recipients, adhering to administrative requirements, and in general, focusing on the daily operations of administering or managing large grant awards.Unless someone seeks out a professional development opportunity, such as a conference or webinar, how does a grant professional stay engaged in best practices regarding federal grants management? As is often the case, people learn by reading about what others are doing that ensures success. This article reflects the first in a series of case studies about various grants management topics, specifically pertaining to the post-award management of federal grant funds.
This first topic will look at the ways in which organizational efficiency has increased since the adoption of a common electronic system. Since eCivis works nationwide with local government, municipal agencies, and state government agencies, we decided to use a case study of one of our state clients.
State of Arizona Grants Office: Centralizing the Process
The State of Arizona enhanced visibility and transparency by centralizing grant activity in the Arizona Office of Grants and Federal Resources and implementing an online grants management solution (eCivis). This facilitated a less time intensive approach to grant acquisition and the establishment of an electronic system of record for all grants pursued and awarded.
Prior to these efforts, grant processes were highly decentralized within the state. Each department used a variety of customized systems, Excel spreadsheets, and email groups to manage and coordinate grant tasks. The use of a centralized system allowed for improvements to grant processes on a statewide level. Universal requirements, such as the inclusion of a State Application Identifier (SAI) on all federal grant applications (to comply with SPOC regulations), have now become a standardized part of the submission process. The increased visibility as a result of centralization also improved collaboration among the numerous stakeholders involved in a variety of grant acquisition and management activities.
While not all agencies have the means to adopt such a system, it does raise some interesting points about how you can enhance your grant seeking and grant management capacity.
- If you have a number of different systems within your agency that each focus on a different activity, do these systems communicate with one another?
- Do you share grant-related tasks with others across departments?
- Do you become involved in grant seeking and grants management activities?
- Are you taking advantage of all funding opportunities that are available to you? Are you aware of these opportunities?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, you might want to think about how you do business. As the grants world becomes more transparent and focused on oversight, your agency may need to adopt different practices to ensure you are keeping up with federal expectations.
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