Jenata Spencer — now a member of REI Systems’ Software as a Service team — has co-authored a report titled “Transforming Federal Grant Reporting: Open the Data, Reduce Compliance Costs, and Deliver Transparency” in her prior position as the Grant Innovation Fellow at the Data Foundation. This new report enumerates the many problems inherent in the current document-based systems and advocates reforming the entire grant reporting process so that open, structured data replaces documents.
Document-based reporting is:
- repetitive, burdensome, and costly for grantees and grantors alike
- prone to mistakes, misinterpretation, and human error
- difficult and expensive to aggregate and analyze, producing significant impediments not only to transparency and oversight, but to data-driven decision making and outcome improvement
The open data structure should be mandatory; entirely open and non-proprietary; comprehensive across the entire range of Federal grant making agencies; specify the fields and formats of federal grant reporting, in a manner predictable enough for software to rely on it; and have permanent governance, ensuring that policy and vendor changes do not disrupt availability and reliability.
An open, structured data approach would:
- mitigate cost- and compliance burdens for all stakeholders
- increase accuracy and comparability of data, yielding increased transparency and oversight
- empower both government and service providers to leverage data for improved outcomes