Modernizing and Improving with the GREAT Act

Signed into law nearly two years ago, the Grants Reporting and Efficiency and Agreements Transparency (GREAT) Act transforms Federal grant reporting for the modern era by directing Federal agencies to modernize and improve recipient reporting. During a recent webinar, The Future of the GREAT Act: Improving Grants Efficiency and Transparency with Better Data, leaders from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) discussed how Federal agencies are making progress toward fulfilling the mandates of the GREAT Act by taking steps to reduce recipient burden and leverage data for decision-making.

One way this is happening is through expanded adoption of the Federal Integrated Business Framework, or FIBF. The FIBF is a model that enables the Federal government to better coordinate and document common business needs across agencies and focus on outcomes, data, processes and performance. OMB leaders discussed how they have recognized that Federal grants do not operate in a silo. Grant recipients have to interact with multiple systems and commonly used terms such as “obligation” need to mean the same thing across those systems in order to reduce burden. The FIBF is the essential first step towards standards that will drive economies of scale and leverage the government’s buying power.

HHS is a key partner with OMB in implementing the GREAT Act and fulfills two roles in the process. The first role of HHS is as the standard-setting agency, including ongoing management and updating of data standards. HHS was recently designated as a Quality Service Management Office (QSMO) for Federal grants. The QSMO is establishing a marketplace for systems which meet those data standards. One of these is, where recipients go to find and apply for all Federal grants. Another is GrantSolutions, which moved within HHS to join the Office of Grants under the Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources (ASFR) in January.

As HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Grants, Alice Bettencourt stated: “We now have the connection between standard setting and aspiration that we get that key insight into what  we need these standards to look like.” Knowing the standards and how to operationalize them will be critical for those that are in the marketplace for developing systems.

Ultimately, the GREAT Act will provide a quality tool for decision making but also ways to streamline information that is collected from recipients. This is a monumental step toward modernizing technology and lifting administrative burdens from recipients even though the work will never have a finish line. The constant updates being made to help create more beneficial ways for people to understand information with less frustration starts with the GREAT Act.

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