Using USAspending.gov Data for Grant Applications

The passage of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act) has unlocked a wider array of U.S. government spending data for public consumption. Among the beneficiaries of this data are federal grant applicants and the new beta version of USAspending.gov. (Note: The data is still being migrated, so more historical data is available here.)

USAspending.gov Homepage

How Could This Data Help?

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‘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”.

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How the Government Prepares Grant Application Forms – Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, we explained the content development process for new and updated Grants.gov forms. In Part 2, we focus on Grants.gov’s role in the technical development of forms.

Forms Development Process

The development time of each form can range from one month for a cosmetic change to up to six months for a new, multi-page form. The following provides a high-level overview of the forms development cycle:

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Share Your Feedback on the General Services Administration’s RFI for ‘Government-Wide Entity Identification and Validation Services’

A critical part of registering as an applicant organization with Grants.gov involves entering a DUNS number – or obtaining one before proceeding.

A DUNS number is a unique nine-character number that Grants.gov and other programs use to identify your organization. For example, the federal government uses the DUNS number to track how federal money is allocated. Applicants doing business with the federal government can get one for free through Dun and Bradstreet (D&B).

General Services Administration RFI

In 2018, the D&B contract with the federal government’s General Services Administration (GSA) expires, and the GSA has released a Request for Information (RFI) for government-wide entity identification and validation services.

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What Is the OMB’s ‘Uniform Guidance’ for Grants?

With a name like Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (commonly called “Uniform Guidance”), you’re unlikely to mistake this government publication for a comic book or romance novel. But, unless you’re a federal grants expert, you may have some difficulty pinning down the Uniform Guidance’s main goal.

What is blog series logo

In plain English, the Uniform Guidance is simply a set of authoritative rules and regulations about federal grants from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This “guidance” is designed to keep everyone in the federal grants community – Congress, grant-making agencies, and applicants – on the same page.

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Infographic: How Federal Grant Application Forms Are Developed

The forms in your federal grant application take quite a journey before getting to your computer.

Every form requires input and coordination from four key stakeholders: the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the federal agency that posted the grant, the Federal Register, and Grants.gov.

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DATA Act Updates: New OMB Memo and Highlights for the Federal Grant Community

Last week, OMB released the latest memo on the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act)—Additional Guidance for DATA Act Implementation: Implementing a Data-Centric Approach for Reporting Federal Spending Information.

The memo describes the main steps agencies need to take to improve data quality and transparency on where the Federal Government’s award data (i.e., from grants or contracts) should be displayed for the public.

The DATA Act

David Miller, the Controller of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), writes, “The reporting of data in accordance with the data definition standards will enable financial data to be posted on USASpending.gov for use by taxpayers and policy makers in a consistent, reliable, and searchable format.”

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Federal Grant Policy Update: Grants Oversight and New Efficiency (GONE) Act

Illustration of a congressional buildingIt’s easy to see the Notice of Award, the official, legally binding issuance of a grant, as the beginning of something – for instance, a program, study, or project that will benefit the greater public.

In fact, before the awarding of a grant, an incredible amount of time and effort has gone into shaping it.

Between the halls of Congress and the hands of award recipients, there is a complex web of laws, regulations, policies, and guidance.

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