Improving the Experience of Federal Grant Reporting

A 10x project to investigate opportunities to make the grant reporting process more efficient.
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The 10x Federal Grant Reporting project team at GSA is investigating opportunities to make the grant reporting process more efficient. The project, which is receiving its third phase of seed-funding through GSA’s 10x program, is building towards a prospective shared solution to improve the Single Audit finding resolution process for managing grants at federal agencies.

View the full project »

Challenge

We’ve spoken with over 50 people from 10 agencies in this phase of the project and several themes have emerged.

First, manual data entry is a pain point for many in grants management because it slows down the audit resolution process immensely and is generally error prone and untrustworthy. As one agency’s audit team put it, “anything manual is subject to error. If [our staff] misentered a date, we’d be missing information.”

Second, we identified the importance of surfacing data quicker. Each month, it can take agencies anywhere from a few hours to three full days just to locate the Single Audits PDFs that are relevant to them, before they are entered into their grants management tools.

Solution

Starting from rough prototypes—with input from people we interviewed—we’ve prioritized two aspects of the grants management journey to simplify the way federal agencies obtain and leverage ‘Single Audit finding data’ that we believe would save time and reduce manual input errors.

  • The “Distiller” streamlines the process of identifying the audits on the Federal Audit Clearinghouse that are relevant to specific agencies.
  • The “PDF Audit Data Extractor” prototype tool could be particularly useful to two different phases of the grants management process. When uploading a Single Audit PDF, the PDF Audit Data Extractor could extract and pre-populate audit findings into the data collection form so that auditors and grantees only have to review and confirm the data being uploaded, instead of manually entering the critical data themselves.

When agencies are ready to review audits, the PDF Audit Data Extractor could deliver data in a machine-readable format so that it could be imported directly into agency audit reporting systems.

Impact

Together, the Distiller and PDF Audit Data Extractor, provide easier access to data — reducing processes from hours to minutes. This will allow grantees, auditors, grant managers, agency, and Offices of Inspector General (OIG), to spend more of their time and money on delivering grant outcomes rather than on reporting and monitoring.

We’d like to chat

We are interested in hearing from those who need to access and use Single Audit data, to learn what other obstacles are in the way of their goals. Since different agencies use unique tools and processes, we want to make sure our solution works for multiple agencies.

To participate in the limited pilot group, or to make sure your agency’s use case is taken into consideration for new functionality, please reach out to Ben Peterson at federal-grant-reporting@gsa.gov.


10x funds, supports, and develops ideas from federal employees about how technology can improve the public’s experience with the government. Their next submission deadline is January 30, 2020.