The Gallery: Pilot Program Shows the Future of Grant Reporting

The Gallery: Pilot Program Shows the Future of Grant Reporting

State and city governments are facing shrinking budgets and smaller staffs, causing many to lean more heavily on federal grants. But as federal spending reforms sweep through Washington, government officials must anticipate the future of federal award reporting to ensure the long-term sustainability of their grant programs.

The Grants Reporting Information Project

The Grants Reporting Information Project (GRIP) was one of a series of pilot programs initiated by the Government Accountability and Transparency Board (GAT Board) to explore standardized and streamlined data reporting. The GATB was created to review the standards, processes and technology proven successful by the Recovery Board, and similar open data projects, to identify data collection and fraud detection best practices.

Federal award recipients are often required to submit multiple reports on the same
grant to different federal agencies. This results in redundant, inefficient and often confusing, reporting processes.

GRIP was a joint effort executed by the Recovery Board, StreamLink Software, nine federal grant award recipients and two federal agencies to test whether a single, centralized system could save time and money, and reduce the reporting burden on government agencies and fund recipients.

GRIP demonstrated that centralized reporting is possible, and the pilot’s lessons helped influence the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act), an open data reform bill currently being debated in Congress.

Here is what GRIP tells us about the future of federal award reporting:

Awards will be reported on electronically and in bulk. The GRIP project used “middleware,” or grant management software, to generate XML reports. This bulk or batch XML filing allowed awardees to submit multiple grant reports simultaneously. Information was sent directly from grant recipients’ existing management systems.

Some reporting fields will be pre-populated. Reporting fields, such as agency information, funding amount, project type, award date, and recipient name and address, were pre-populated using open data from and the System for Award Management (SAM).

A common machine-readable data format will be used. Unique award identifiers (UAIDs) were algorithmically produced using machine-generated data like agency code, award type and fiscal year. UAIDs could improve grant reporting standardization if implemented government-wide by allowing data to be checked for accuracy and aggregated for transparent reporting.

In order to comply with future federal award reporting requirements, state and local governments will need to adopt the processes and technology necessary for tracking grant funds and performance. Grant managers must become more comfortable with data and prepare to report on ROI.

Fortunately, this initial learning curve will be rewarded with streamlined reporting processes, compliance automation and performance-based grant distribution.

Adam Roth ( is the president and CEO of StreamLink Software. The company’s flagship product, AmpliFund, is designed for managing every stage of the grant lifecycle, from pre-award research and planning to post-award performance and reporting. To learn more about federal data reform, read “The Changing Landscape of Grant Reporting.”

The Gallery is a forum for ideas and examination of matters facing state and local government. Readers, members of the media, academics or the business community are invited to submit guest columns to bailey{at}civsourceonline{dot}com. Member of the public sector? We’re interested in hearing from you too. CivSource does not endorse the views presented in The Gallery, but offers them in an effort to present more diverse coverage. CivSource will review all submissions but does not guarantee publication of all works submitted.

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