Grants Management

Ask an Expert: How Government Agencies can Modernize Grants Management


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In our new series, “Ask an Expert”, we are taking a look at the most pressing challenges facing the grantmaking community. Our first episode is with Muhammad Siddiqui, VP of Growth here at Fluxx. Shawn Garrison sat down with Muhammad to talk about the importance of modernization of grant making in government agencies.

Muhammad spent most of his career as a management consultant at Deloitte, helping government agencies with funding program design, and grants management implementation. Much of his expertise comes from designing modern grants management processes and helping to bring in technology to help automate those processes.

Driving Factors of the Modernization of Grants Management

One of the key points Muhammad touches on is the current modernization of grants management systems in the government sector, which is forcing agencies to rethink how they approach technology’s role in grant making. 

“Agencies reliant on manual processes and outdated technology are going to ultimately struggle to maintain compliance and keep up with the pace of historic levels of federal funding that are still in the very early stages of making their way through the pipeline. This puts both the agencies at risk as stewards of those funds, and perhaps more importantly could compromise their ability to achieve the generational social and economic impact these funds were intended to create in the first place.”

As an example, the State of California has invested roughly only $3 billion dollars of the estimated $42 billion dollars allocated to their transportation funding. This means there is a lot of funding that still needs to be allocated and granted, and without the proper processes and technology, this will be a challenge for the years to come.

What Gets Overlooked When Modernizing Grants Management?

Most agencies miss opportunities to affect change in their process, instead choosing to apply new technology to existing processes. The key is to reimagine these processes with a new lens that seeks to reduce administrative burden, improve the capacity of grantees to manage their awards, all while maintaining the compliance requirements that are critical to mitigating risk. 

Agencies need to consider a more collaborative approach to their legacy processes, and as they think about a timeline for implementation, look to review and modernize the processes themselves before anything is even built in a system. It’s difficult, because it requires internal deliberation and decisions among various stakeholders, and that can certainly slow the timeline without the right partner. 

Look to seek out technology partners who will not only bring the technology itself, but also a wealth of consultative best practices to help accelerate process changes that will help modernize the entire grants management ecosystem. Modernization requires the intersection of People, Process and Technology to be truly successful.

What to Look for in a Grants Management Modernization Effort

In a recent paper entitled Navigating the Changing Landscape of Government Grants Management Systems, Muhammad highlights an important element that agencies could potentially overlook when selecting a grants management system - the ability to incorporate multiple sub-processes that work in conjunction with the main grants management process. Muhammad gives a good example with the Broadband Equity, Access and Development Program (BEAD):

“In the $42 billion Broadband Equity Access and Deployment Program, there is a requirement that State awardees who are receiving federal funds run what's called a ‘challenge process’ for citizens and internet service providers. Within this process, they can submit challenges regarding whether a particular location is indeed underserved or unserved as part of the proposed graph funded project for those States. While this process isn’t necessarily a part of the main grant process, each of these sub-processes need to be tracked over the life of each individual challenge, and ultimately related back to the parent grants management process.”

Muhammad continues that to be able to do this in a legacy system or even manually can not only be difficult, but also a compliance risk. Having a solution that is modern and can provide this functionality natively will ultimately create massive returns on resources and time spent - as well as provide visibility and audit-ability for compliance purposes.

Stay tuned as we continue to release our Ask the Expert series to help agencies and organizations on their journey to modernize their grants management system. 

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