Researching a Few Good Ideas for the Recovery Act

October 5, 2011 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

It’s been several months in the making but the Federal Demonstration Partnership has finally released its American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Administrative Impact Survey Report. This is definitely a must-read for the folks at the Office of Management and Budget, as well as anyone else interested in the obstacles facing research institutions administering their Recovery Act awards.

About 100 research institutions receiving more than 11,500 Recovery Act-funded awards valued at more than $7.18 million responded to the survey. Respondents were asked to provide the number and cost associated with added staffing, reallocated staffing and overtime to manage Recovery Act requirements, and to report on other issues affecting their Recovery Act administrative tasks.

The respondents provided recommendations about how to reduce the administrative impact of the Recovery Act requirements while continuing to support transparency. Their main recommendations were:

  1. Pre-populate reporting data that is already known to the agencies.
  2. Increase the lead time to prepare reports by an additional 10 days.
  3. Ensure that all agencies are defining each data filed in an identical way.
  4. Allow bulk upload of Recovery Act reports.
  5. Consolidate letter of credit draws within each agency.
  6. Allow full subrecipient delegations or disallow it completely.
  7. Harmonize and reduce reporting requirements.
  8. Improve and standardize communication of requirements.

The FDP said that transparency requirements can enhance public awareness and increase efficiency if “done well and thoughtfully, incorporating input from those impacted.” However, “done poorly, the addition of these types of requirements on a broad-based scale could easily have a material negative impact on the ability of major research universities to achieve optimal administrative benchmarks … and thereby have a negative impact on the research environment.”

It may be somewhat late in the game for changing the Recovery Act requirements but if they can ease the burden of grant recipients, it’s never too late to implement some of these ideas.

What do you think about the survey report and its recommendations? Anything else stand out from the report that you want to stress? Let us know.

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