Seeking Strength in Numbers

September 9, 2013 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

superman-197617-mI remember as a kid in the mid-1970s (yes, I’m dating myself here) getting up early to watch Saturday morning cartoons. One that I would watch from time to time was Super Friends, in which Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and others would team up to fight crime. I mean, how could they lose? Superman by himself was a force to be reckoned with, but put him together with this group of heroes, there’s no way they could lose. Perhaps a group of grants stakeholder organizations are thinking the same thing.

Rather than going at it individually, 10 very influential grants organizations are urging the Council on Financial Assistance Reform to meet with them to hear their comments and concerns before finalizing theĀ proposed grants reform .

In a Sept. 3 letter to Norman Dong, acting controller at the Office of Management and Budget, and Ellen Murray, assistant secretary for financial resources and chief financial officer at the Department of Health and Human Services, the groups recognized the challenges that COFAR has in developing the final version of the reform. However, they were concerned that the federal government’s “outlying perspective” could jeopardize reform ideas that could provide regulatory relief.

“We haveĀ  a number of ideas for genuine grants reform and would like the opportunity to provide our perspective of the systemic issues associated with federal grant management and the true reforms we seek,” the groups, calling themselves the Coalition in Support of Innovative Grants Reform, said. “While we remain cautiously optimistic that the president’s mandate will prevail, a meeting between CSI Grant Reform and COFAR will help us to understand any dynamics that may detract from a meaningful and substantive grants reform.”

The Coalition in Support of Innovative Grants Reform is comprised of the following organizations: Association of American Universities; Association of Independent Research Institutes; Association of Public and Land-grant Universities; Council on Government Reform; Maryland Governor’s Grants Office; National Association of College and University Business Officers; National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers; National Council of Nonprofits; National Grants Management Association; and Native American Finance Officers Association.

I can’t say whether COFAR would agree to meet with these groups, but if so, I’d love to hear the interaction between all of these major players in the grants world. With so many voices to be heard, they better set aside a huge chunk of time. The Super Friends saved the world in an hour; this conversation, I’m confident, will take much longer.

Let us know what you think about this coalition and its approach.


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