Want to Join My Fantasy Grants League?

October 2, 2013 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

wind-up---and-the-1068822-mRather than blogging about how infuriating it is to witness Congress’ ineptitude to reach any kind of compromise to prevent the current federal government shutdown, I thought I’d post about something a bit more fun — baseball. We’re now beginning a very exciting time for certain cities and teams that will be battling in the playoffs for a chance to go to the World Series. (I’ve always been a National League fan myself, so whoever makes it from the National League, that’s likely who I’ll root for.)

But many folks out there have gone past just rooting for a team; they have joined fantasy baseball leagues and are spending a great deal of time tracking the progress of certain players.  The better the player does in a particular game, the more points he earns for the team “owner” of that player. Participants in the league can change players on their “teams” from time to time in order to amass the most points in their quest to come in first in their particular league. Therefore, league participants will spend a good bit of time analyzing the stats of each player to field their best team — who’s pitching well lately, who’s on a hitting tear, who’s slumping, etc.

 I did something similar as a kid before the evolution of fantasy leagues. My friends and I traded baseball cards. We often would look at the players’ stats on the back of the cards to see which ones were keepers and which ones we would offer to trade. Somewhere among the clutter at home, I think I still have all those old cards, although unfortunately, none are in mint (aka “valuable”) condition.

I bring all this up because the future of grants (once we get past this shutdown) will have a similar feel to fantasy baseball. With the growing emphasis on risk in the Office of Management and Budget’s grants reform proposal, federal grantor agencies will be conducting more analysis on each applicant to determine which one would best avoid risks to successfully provide services. Similarly in post-award, agencies would continue to assess data on their grantees to ensure the grantees are meeting their performance goals. Agency data also will become more transparent for the public to analyze, and this increased level of scrutiny could further enhance the outcomes of federal programs.

Jim Burch II, deputy assistant attorney general with the Department of Justice, in a presentation last week to the National Grants Management Association, called this increased assessment of information “big data analytics.” “I expect to see greater emphasis on data standardization, transparency, data sharing and the use of data, which will require agency officials and their staff to look at technology in a new way,” he said. “Big data analytics definitely holds the potential for many agencies to solve problems related to risk.”

Burch went on to add that grants managers should strive to become more proficient in data analysis.  If grants managers participate in a fantasy league, one could say that they’re in a better position because they are already using those skills to evaluate data — as long as their fantasy league time is spend off the federal clock.

And one more thing, as Dave Barry used to say, I think “Big Data Analytics” sounds like a good name for a rock band!

Tell us what you think about the increasing role of data analysis in grants management. We’d like to hear your thoughts.




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