Government Groups Must Improve Grant Management and Accounting
Published: November 12, 2014
Transparent budgeting and accounting processes are a key part of any government agencies' internal operations, especially for those granting funding and awards to initiatives throughout the country.
Despite the sensitivity of these issues, however, few organizations are able to execute when it comes to delivering clear, accurate reports of their financial situations, leaving citizens and officials scratching their heads in confusion and frustration. I believe that agencies must leverage IT solutions specific to grant accounting and audit demands if they want to step up their game.
A Tale of Inconsistency
Just how bad is the situation for government award and grant transparency? According to InformationWeek, the Government Accountability Office thinks that $619 billion worth of federal grants were either not reported properly, reported late or neglected altogether. To me, this would qualify as a major problem, and one that needs to be addressed immediately.
The GAO pointed out exactly where agencies are falling short of accounting best practices, noting that only 2 to 7 percent of the awards reported on the USAspending.gov website addressed all 21 data elements in the online records. These aren't especially hard-to-find details - things like funding amounts, relevant addresses, names and numbers should be included in any transfer involving millions of dollars. By failing to properly report this data, these agencies are only contributing to the smoke and mirrors that our federal financial situation suffers from already.
"Until these weaknesses are addressed, any effort to use the data will be hampered by uncertainties about accuracy," GAO said.
The Right Tools for the Job
While the GAO noted that more diligent reporting practices should be taught to federal employees to increase accountability, I'm not convinced that these shortcomings are purely a result of human error. Recording data elements is a task that can easily be streamlined by a dedicated IT implementation such as Tribridge's Grants Management Solution. Powered by Microsoft Dynamics GP, this program is engineered specifically for grant management and accounting processes, offering total visibility of the grant-related expenditures and a wealth of relevant data points. Tribridge's offering is perfect for tracking and managing the details of government awards, allowing users to search the system by grant, project and cost categories. Funds can also be traced from source to destination, including detailed audit trails and workflows to ensure that everything is in place when scrutinized. Agencies with this solution in their toolkit will be ready to meet GAO standards and remain crystal clear on every aspect of their financial footprint.