The Strategic Planning & Grants Management office (SPGM) is embarking on an exciting and innovative project that will provide Osage lawmakers and the Executive Branch with a complete and accurate picture of the Nation’s grant funding. In September of last year SPGM requested an appropriation for eCivis Grants Network after more than a year of searching and evaluating solutions to help manage the Nation’s grants. This is the first of several articles covering this project.
Over the past three years SPGM had been using MS Excel to track the nation’s grants but not very successfully. MS Excel wasn’t a good fit; the spreadsheet was basically a list of numbers separated by divisions. The Nation needed something relational; if we know what our entire grant funding picture looks like this helps determine what kinds of grants to plan for, and provides decision makers with accurate and timely information.
The search ended in 2010 after SPGM attended the National Grants Management Conference and found eCivis. Grants Network is not software that we have to install and maintain on our internal servers, it’s a web-based subscription. The technology behind it is what is known as software-as-a-service (saas). Grant data is accessed through the Cloud over a secure connection using a web browser. There is no costly desktop software or network infrastructure that we had to purchase and we don’t have to travel for training, it’s been accomplished so far online via WebEx.
Another reason Grants Network was chosen is its strong tracking and reporting components. From a funder’s point of view, it’s imperative to show that our programs are meeting their stated grant objectives, having positive outcomes and submitting progress reports on time. Grants Network allows us to electronically file all grant documentation in one place, but more importantly financial and programmatic reports will be tied to a grant. There will be a complete grant history along with its reporting cycle. Grants Network will automatically generate e-mail reminders to management when report deadlines are approaching. Bells go off sooner and we can proactively address reporting issues before they turn into a crisis.
Project work started in December and grants staff has been gathering data and working through issues. Grant information has been added for Cultural Resources and Education divisions, and capturing our 638 Self Governance funding amounts. At the same time we are reviewing internal processes and finalizing our grants policies and procedures, all of which will need to be integrated and communicated through the branch. Although the implementation can get tedious, our goal is to bring a much needed management tool to help inform decisions and improve the Nation’s daily operations