If I Could Turn Back Time

January 18, 2012 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

As I noted in an earlier post, one of our favorite things to do as a family is to order pizza, rent a DVD and have movie night at home. This weekend, we watched one my favorite films when I was younger — Back to the Future. Although my kids were on the edge of their seats near the end fretting to see if Marty would actually make it back to 1985, they seemed to enjoy the movie as much as I did (despite having to explain a few outdated 80s references).

One of the key scenes (spoiler alert for those handful of folks that haven’t seen it!) in the movie was when George McFly gathers up his courage and strength and knocks out Biff to save Lorraine. As it turns out in the movie, this event changed the course of history because George had never before stood up to Biff and, when Marty does make it back to the future, his whole family has changed for the better.

So that got me to thinking. What if I could go back in time to change one grants-related event that would change the whole course of history for the better? Although I’m not a grants manager myself, I would go back to when they first began discussing grants reporting and would stress the need for simplicity. If only the decisionmakers had considered at the beginning ways to avoid the situation we’re in now, surely they could have devised a simpler system that would involve fewer resources. As it stands now, we’ve got a plethora of reporting systems, and grantees are spending countless hours administratively reporting on grants rather than providing services or conducting research. A great visual of the morass of reporting systems, which some lovingly call the “spaghetti chart,” can be found on page 6 of this report from the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board.

Where’s that time machine when you need it???

Now it’s your turn. If you could go back in grants history, what would you change and how do you think it would improve grants management as we know it today. I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this.

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