Data Foundation Hosts Grant Innovation Forum

Earlier this week, we hosted our second Grant Innovation Forum, sponsored by MorganFranklin Consulting and hosted by The Aspen Institute. The discussion was informed by our recently published report on the transformation of federal grant reporting titled Transforming Federal Grant Reporting: Current Challenge, Future Vision.. Grant leaders from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Education, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the White House, and private sector gathered to discuss challenges facing the grantee and grantor community and how grant data can be used to better serve citizens. Participants unanimously agreed that a data taxonomy is key to transforming federal reporting. However, there was less consensus on the idea of a single data portal for all grant reporting. Overall, the forum succeeded in pushing the conversation on grant data forward.   

Transforming Grant Reporting touches on the various reporting difficulties federal grantees face and acknowledges various technical and cultural challenges surrounding the standardization of federal grant data. Such challenges presented in the report include:

  • Some grantees lacking the technical capacity to comply with electronic reporting requirements.
  • Open data requirements raising privacy concerns.

In conjunction with the potential challenges that might be raised by the transformation of grant reporting, attendees at the forum discussed solutions to those issues and how innovation in grant reporting can be advanced.

As of now, both the White House and Congress have introduced two initiatives to standardize data in order to reduce grant reporting costs and deliver transparency; these include the President's Management Agenda Cross-Agency Priority Goal 8 on results-oriented accountability for grants and the Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency Act (GREAT Act), introduced by Reps. Foxx (R-NC-5) and Gomez (D-CA-34).

In an effort to expand on the challenges and solutions presented, participants took part in breakout group discussions in which they addressed two questions:

  • Did the Transforming Grant Reporting paper capture all the major challenges facing the federal government’s grant data standardization initiatives, and if not, what are the additional challenges and proposed solutions to each?
  • Assuming the federal government successfully adopts a comprehensive data taxonomy for all reports by grantees, should it then seek to centralize all grant reporting using a single portal?

These discussions provided the groups with valuable time to share insights on the evolution of grant reporting and address additional challenges and solutions that were not covered in the research report.

The Data Foundation thanks all who participated in the Grant Innovation Forum and looks forward to continuing the discussion on how to make grant data work more effectively for the public.

Note: This event was invite only and off-the-record. To view the Grant Innovation Forum presentation slides, click here.