National initiatives aimed to improve grants processes have been increasing steadily in recent years. These federal initiatives are important to note, especially as securing money for scientific research has become more challenging. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), congressional cuts have reduced federal spending on R&D as a share of the gross domestic product from its peak above 2% in the late 1970’s, to the lows of fiscal year 2014 figure at 0.78%.
An especially alarming fact to consider, as noted in news reports earlier this year, is that budget pressures now force the National Institutes of Health to reject half of worthwhile research proposals.
Even as budgets tighten and workloads increase due to added regulation, the new National initiatives are geared toward improving the federal grant process and increasing recipient accountability. For example, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) actively investigates potential improvements through grant consolidation and better management. There are also several recent laws now in place impacting grant reporting and data transparency.
The OMB and the federal Chief Financial Officer’s COFAR group investigate opportunities to increase efficiency and accountability in delivery, management and coordination of federal grants and cooperative agreements.
Established in 2011, COFAR seeks input from a range of stakeholders including institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations, and other entities. The proposal to revise, modernize and make federal grant guidance more uniform was initiated as part of the COFAR process.
You can learn more about COFAR and get involved in their ongoing dialogue at their COFAR website.
The DATA Act
Another federal initiative, the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act), aims to make information on federal expenditures more easily accessible and transparent. As it relates to researchers, transparency involves increasing visibility and accessibility of key information associated with grant funding and grant sources.
Data transparency is important for administrators, project managers, scientists, research faculty, and principal investigators throughout the entire grant life cycle – from proposal to grant close out. We took a look at the importance of data transparency during grant management in a previous blog post.
Improve Information Tracking, Improve Grants Processes
As it applies to sponsored research, the DATA act seeks to standardize information each institution must track, improve the accuracy and detail of reporting, and ensure transparency and accountability for grant spending.
Not only does the DATA Act introduce a new standard of fiscal accountability for federal grant allocation and grant recipients, the legislation also creates an independent agency to serve as an oversight committee to standardize the information and enforce reporting standards.
Looking to Improve Grants Processes?
There are many resources to track as it relates to federal initiatives for improved grant processes.
The Office of Management and Budget Guidance for Grants and Agreements offers a one-stop resource to track recent guidelines on their central website.
Another equally important method to meet these new standards is to implement a grants management system. Many institutions find these systems necessary to ensure reporting accuracy, transparency and speed. Contact our team to learn more.