Using Data to Move Toward Implementation of the Evidence Act

Renee Lobanovskyy, Director of Partner Services for the HHS Office of Grants, GrantSolutions, recently participated in the “Driving Better Real World and Evidence-Based Policy Outcomes Through Patient and Public Experiences” panel discussion, hosted by the Beryl Institute in partnership with Medallia. GrantSolutions was excited to be included in this discussion to address how operationalizing grants-based legislation such as the Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (Evidence Act) can help agencies effectively address mission-critical priorities with data and innovative technology.

The Evidence Act sets the stage for major government-wide reforms for making data accessible and useful for decision-making, such as who should receive funding and how it should be used. It establishes processes for the Federal government to modernize its data management practices, evidence-building functions, and statistical efficiency.

During this discussion, Renee addressed the progress Partners have made in improving outcomes, removing barriers, reducing administrative burden, and essentially modernizing the grants management experience using data analytics and machine learning. Currently, grantors and recipients use multiple systems to find all the information needed for one award. Going forward, the GrantSolutions vision is a unified system that will help put all information gathered for the Federal government in one place.

One of the main challenges the panel discussed is how the interpretation and implementation of the Evidence Act often differs across stakeholders based on resources, focuses, and agreements. In order to ensure key provisions of the Evidence Act are realized, meetings with stakeholders across the government on a regular basis for feedback to support their needs is key. As Renee stated, “Engagement is extremely important to us, and we are always trying to stay in tune with Partners’ needs.”

One example of how GrantSolutions is engaging with Partners to help address needs is the focus on measuring the impacts of grant programs. Programs are being asked more and more to truly “tell the story” of how their grants are impacting communities through the data. GrantSolutions is currently working with multiple Partners to help tell their stories using Program Data through program progress reports that focus on outcomes not outputs and data visualizations. Data visualization provides a clear idea of what the information means by giving it visual context through maps or graphs. This makes the data more natural for the human mind to comprehend and therefore makes it easier to identify trends, patterns, and outliers within large data sets.

Over the past year we have seen the impact of grants across our communities as grant-professionals work to distribute funds to address the global pandemic. The impact of these grants is clear but the time needed to administer and manage them continues to be a challenge. Using innovative methods and emerging technologies can help the time needed in these administrative areas. GrantSolutions’ Recipient Data Insights, a risk management tool currently under development and based off previous pilots by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS, uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities to lighten Federal staff’s burden by analyzing and automating data from multiple sources. Enabling grant managers to spend more of their limited time focused on resolving potential problem areas and less on clerical duties.

Achieving standardization is one of the biggest challenges for Federal agencies as they move toward full adoption of the Evidence Act. Through a number of innovative initiatives, GrantSolutions is happy to assist Partners on the road to achieving data standardization.

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