‘Harmonizing’ U.S. Federal Grant Terminology

The U.S. federal government is in the midst of an effort to fix inconsistencies in the terminology used across federal financial assistance application forms. The home for the newly “harmonized” terms is the Common Data Element Repository Library, or CDER Library.

CDER Library logo

Over the years, synonymous data elements on federal grant forms have sometimes been used interchangeably. For example, forms from different systems and applications have listed “address” as “Street 1”, as “Address Line 1” or as “Street Address Line 1”.

Since 2014, when the DATA Act was passed by Congress, the U.S. government has taken a series of steps to analyze the terminology being used – not just on grant applications, but in all business activities.

The CDER Library was authorized by the Council on Financial Assistance Reform (COFAR) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to facilitate and encourage “the use of common data standards across multiple Federal government business lines. The library’s vision is to standardize, or harmonize, data elements to promote digitization and interoperability.”

The CDER Library has developed an animated video that provides additional examples, including the one below showing inconsistencies from various “report type” drop-down menus:

CDER Library

You can watch the full video below.

Editor’s Note: The description of CDER Library’s vision was updated for clarity on August 10, 2017.

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