The latest 2020 State CIO Survey by NASCIO reveals that CIOs are doubling down on digital government services, cloud, budget control and fiscal management, and data management and analytics among their top priorities.
With this in mind, one essential government resource that is vital to economic survival and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is grant funding. However, with grant management being an inherently complex process, and even more complex with the various waves of stimulus and relief funding governments now have to manage, the adoption of new grant management solutions will be more central to advancing CIO priorities than ever before.
Essentially, grant management has become a critical business function of government, as grant revenue plays a vital role in economic recovery. More importantly, the complexities of grant management itself as well as federal requirements surrounding grant funding require grant management solutions (GMS) that can manage those complexities. This is especially true because the ability to automate and account for the unique programmatic requirements and workflows of grant management falls outside the capabilities of standard enterprise resource planning (ERP) and other financial systems.
Knowing that grant management solutions will become more essential parts of state and local government IT ecosystem, here is how a SaaS-based GMS can advance CIO priorities:
1. Improve digital services by empowering government workforces
By automating workflows for both grantors (awarding agencies) and grantees (recipients of grant awards), a GMS can help streamline the management of complex processes and electronic documentation as well as help establish internal controls when it comes to managing grants.
Thus, a GMS can empower government workforces by reducing administrative and paper burdens for grants and finance professionals (no more reams of paper binders) and help in attaining more grant revenue.
2. Enable cloud scalability
A purpose-built COTS SaaS-based GMS is able to scale at the enterprise level (be it two to 15 users or 10,000+) while helping improve data governance and strategies, freeing an agency’s data to mix with other data sources and business intelligence tools.
There are GMS(s) that also integrate seamlessly with existing ERPs to provide more comprehensive data on grant spending and performance as well as automating payments to grantees. They also reduce complexity by automating compliance with federal guidelines like Uniform Grant Guidance (2 CFR 200) so that governments can maintain community transparency. More importantly, they reduce risk and the likelihood of human error, so that governments don’t have to return funds to the federal government.
3. Improve budget and fiscal management
While ERP modules do a good job of tracking financial transactions, they are not always set up to track those transactions by grant. A GMS is especially equipped to capture the complex programmatic and budgetary information needed before an agency even acquires a grant for planning to help an ERP module associate the proper transactions to a grant.
In addition to being able to integrate well with budget and financial information and systems, a GMS can track workflows and financial data related to grant performance requirements for both grantees (recipients of awards) and grantors (awarding entities) – all in one place.
4. Address priorities and objectives of all stakeholders through comprehensive data analytics
A grant management solution can help CIOs and key stakeholders answer questions like: “How many beds did we deliver to the homeless through this grant project? Did we achieve our goal of delivering X number of PPE equipment and medical supplies to hospitals? How many people did we impact through these grant dollars?”
By being able to answer these questions, CIOs can help decision-makers make better and more informed policy decisions going forward based on data of the actual performance and outcomes of grants. As a result, the CIO will become a key stakeholder in the delivery of grant funding.
As the grant management solution market continues to expand and evolve, state and local CIOs will continue to have more options when it comes to choosing which best serves their government’s needs while advancing their top priorities and digital strategies.