In 2017, thanks to the generous support of Workiva and StreamLink, the Data Foundation hosted a Grant Innovation Fellow, Jenata Spencer. Jen conducted research, outreach, and education around open data in grant reporting.

Across all modes of government reporting and compliance, it makes sense to replace document-based information flows with standardized, open data. Open data is cheaper to generate, store, and analyze than unstructured documents.

The federal grant industry uses a complex array of forms, filings, and systems to administer over $600 billion in federal grants each year, more than 80% of which are distributed to state and local governments. Most grant reports are document-based: grantees must compile and submit forms to apply for, receive, and report back on grant awards. Even where grant information is submitted electronically, the lack of a standardized data structure means every submission is unique and information cannot be automatically delivered to all the people and entities who need it.

During her tenure as our Grant Innovation Fellow, Jen educated grantor agencies and grantee entities on the need for a common, standardized data structure for grant reporting. Jen also conducted research, resulting in papers that help illuminate how standardization could transform federal grant reporting from documents to data.

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On January 12, the Grant Innovation Fellow convened a Roundtable with stakeholders including government, tech sector, grantees, and philanthropic and non-profit organizations. Read the recap blog here!

  Jenata Spencer , Grant Innovation Fellow

Jenata Spencer, Grant Innovation Fellow


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