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Posted by on Jul 25, 2019

CAP Goal 8 – The Grants Reform Saga Continues

CAP Goal 8 – The Grants Reform Saga Continues

Somehow, I let talking about the President’s Management Agenda (PMA) Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goal 8: Results-Oriented Accountability for Grants slip into my grant blog schedule. Let’s just call it CAP Goal 8 — everyone else does.

In case you’ve missed it, the Administration released the PMA early in 2018. It was exciting, for people like me who track these things, that there is a CAP Goal 8 and what’s in it:

“This goal will: rebalance compliance efforts with a focus on results for the American taxpayer; standardize grant reporting data and improve data collection in ways that will increase efficiency, promote evaluation, reduce reporting burden, and benefit the American taxpayer; measure progress and share lessons learned and best practices to inform future efforts, and support innovation to achieve results.”

To me this really says, “Federal grants community, we are continuing years of efforts. We aren’t going to let the work that led to improvements like the Uniform Guidance, DATA Act, and even the establishment of be the endpoint.” Or in a KISS (i.e., keep it simple stupid) description, we will continuously improve our processes.

Because this is a presidential initiative, there are numerous committees and lots of work going on. Process improvement is going to take a while. That said, the CAP 8 Goal Team reported the following in their June 2019 report:

  • Surveyed 24 awarding agencies on more than 100 programs on Federal business practices in performance within the grants lifecycle
  • Received more than 1,100 comments on draft grants management data elements
  • Conducted Single Audit and Risk Management Solution Industry Demonstration Days in which 75 Federal staff participated and more than 20 vendors expressed interest
  • Pre-designated HHS as the Quality Service Management Office (QSMO) for grants, cross-cutting with CAP Goal 5
  • Initiated monthly Innovation Exchange Sessions open to the public which attracted more than 160 participants during the May 2019 session

After the release of the progress update, OMB issued the 2019 Single Audit Compliance Supplement which includes significant revisions that are meant to reduce burden while enabling agencies and recipients to improve risk management.

The most interesting thing that is going on — from my perspective — is the QSMO. This potentially means that HHS will have an even greater say in the systems Federal and non-Federal agencies use throughout the grants management lifecycle. Shared services are definitely trending. What’s different this time is that in recent years HHS has invested in its own capabilities that were already used by other agencies (i.e., Grant Solutions). As the QSMO, HHS could eventually be the gatekeeper for all grants management systems. I’m sure that the vendor community is tracking this closely.

On another note, in the debate on how to pronounce this acronym, I’ve heard “q sumo” and “q so mo.” Although I have been told that it’s not what I originally thought, “Quasimodo.”

A lot of this work is going to take a long, long time. That said, I know that OMB wants and needs as much participation as possible. One way that you can learn about future participation opportunities is to join the Results-Oriented Accountability for Grants Community of Practice. To receive updates on CAP Goal 8 activities and invitations to the Innovation Exchange Sessions, send an email request to OMB:

Erica Preston serves as the Product Management Director for Grants & Assistance at Management Concepts, working to maintain and grow workforce training and enhancement products and services for grants professionals. Her extensive experience in both the public and private sectors spans grants management, stakeholder engagement, and program and contract management.

1 Comment

  1. Great overview, Erica! I was in the Innovation Exchange Session by OMB this morning, and it featured FEMA’s enhanced system for audit review. They have wrangled a lot of performance audit (OIG) and single audit information into usable formats to help them improve risk assessment and spot ways toward improvement (e.g., seeing a grantee with similar risk characteristics that is succeeding then using that site as a model for others). Timely blog post!

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