The largest ever National Grants Management Association (NGMA) Annual Grant Training (AGT) took place in Washington, D.C. this year, with over 1,200 grants management professionals in attendance.
Don’t worry about missing out if you couldn’t attend this year. The NGMA has just announced the 2024 AGT dates, and we’ve curated some of the most valuable insights from the 2023 event for you here.
During the three-day event, grant professionals from the public and private sectors had the opportunity to attend keynote events, panel discussions, and 40+ breakout sessions, addressing some of the most critical issues in grants management today. With recent legislation adding even more pressure on grant managers, this event could not have come at a better time.
1. Process improvements for better transparency, accountability, and efficiency
Federal legislative actions in the last couple of years have profoundly impacted grant-making. Two of these initiatives and their enduring impact were brought to the forefront during AGT.
In a nutshell, this act mandates the standardization of grant data elements and the unification of reporting systems.
With these changes, grants professionals will gain access to real-time data, making it easier to:
Enabled more informed decision-making
Increased effectiveness in resource allocation
Provided accountability for the use of taxpayer dollars.
Infrastructure and Jobs Act
The Infrastructure and Jobs Act has created a surge of grant opportunities by allocating significant funding for various infrastructure projects with a focus on transparency, accountability, and streamlining procedures.
Demand for grants management professionals is on the rise because of this influx of grant opportunities. Specifically, grant managers who can efficiently oversee the application, review, and monitoring processes of increasing application volumes.
With the heightened volume of grant disbursements will also come increased scrutiny to ensure compliance. Maintaining records and facilitating smooth collaboration among numerous stakeholders will be the challenge that comes with this opportunity for grants management professionals.
2. Risk and compliance management remain a focus as equity comes to the forefront
Grant-making agencies across federal, state, and local governments have prioritized accountability amidst the unprecedented level of funding at the federal level over the past 3 years due to COVID-19 relief legislation. And, while government grants managers continue to have a high sensitivity for risk and compliance, they are broadening their focus to include equity and transparency in their processes. This includes — but is not limited to — their grant-monitoring and subrecipient risk assessments.
It’s no secret The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) led to a massive increase in funding through grants. Still, the ongoing funding allocations and implementation continue. An adaptive and digital approach is proving to be the only way for grants managers to effectively manage and distribute pandemic recovery funds at scale.These circumstances drove the adoption of new tech to support evolving compliance requirements. Grants management professionals had to adapt to a more digital approach to effectively manage and distribute funds for pandemic recovery efforts.
3. Storytelling and reporting are more vital than ever before
Measuring performance against outcomes has always been a huge challenge for grantmakers. That challenge has only become more difficult with an increasing emphasis on impact storytelling, not just measuring performance. The foundational key to both measuring and reporting impact is the data on which it’s built.
Thankfully, the initiative to standardize data and reporting in grants management has begun through the GREAT Act implementation by the Department of Health and Human Services (the nation’s largest grant-making agency). The Grants Quality Service Management Office has started rolling out the Federal Integrated Business Standards for Grants Management to support data standardization requirements across grants organizations.
While implementation will take time, once in place these requirements will:
Reduce administrative burdens on sub-recipients and grantors
Enhance efficiency in the grants management process
Increase accountability and transparency in government grant funding
Ultimately, the standardization of reporting and data in the grants management space will be a huge win for everyone involved in the grant process.
4. The need for full-lifecycle grant-making solutions
While the insights and initiatives shared at the AGT were exciting, a recurring theme we heard accompanying them was the need for better grants management solutions.
The significant gap in tech across government agencies is becoming more pronounced with every year that passes.
As regulations become more stringent and the need for transparency in outcomes grows, investing in technology for efficient and effective grant management is essential. It’s no wonder that more and more agencies are deploying grant management solutions when the alternative is spreadsheets dispersed across email inboxes with hundreds of tabs and document versions.