IT & Networks

New law calls for more transparent grant guidance

President Donald Trump signed a bill into law Dec. 30 directing federal agencies to modernize grant reporting data.

Under the legislation, called the Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency Act of 2019, the Office of Management and Budget will work with the department that doles out the most federal grants every year to establish governmentwide standards for information submitted by recipients and create guidance for other agencies on applying those standards.

It also requires that data collected from recipients across all agencies be published on a single, public-facing website. The bill was sponsored by Reps. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., and Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif.

“These federal dollars touch almost every aspect of American society, highlighting the need to streamline the grant reporting process and make it as transparent as possible to the public. By leveraging technology, the GREAT Act will make the grant reporting process more equitable, efficient, and accessible," Gomez said in a statement Dec. 17, when the bill passed through Congress.

In a news release when the bill passed, the lawmakers touted the increased transparency, reduced compliance cost and improved oversight the GREAT Act will facilitate.

“The grant reporting process is riddled with antiquated reporting methods that hinder efficiency for grant recipients and transparency for taxpayers,” Foxx said in a statement Dec. 17. "Now that the bill has been sent to President Trump’s desk, the GREAT Act will bring federal grant reporting into the 21st century with searchable documents and open data.”

Nick Hart, CEO of the Data Coalition, said in a statement new law was important because it "ensure[s] policymakers have access to the information they want and need to support effective decision-making.”

“The U.S. government spends more than $600 billion on grants every year, and yet our reporting processes are built for the 20th century rather than information needs in 2020,” said Hart. “The application of data standards and improvements to data quality encouraged by the GREAT Act will allow for better information about grantee performance while also reducing reporting burden for grantees, meaning service providers can focus on strategies for best serving the American people’s needs."

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