FEMA’s New Strategic Plan Aims To Improve Grants Management

March 21, 2018 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

j143q33k69loivqmp2dg_400x400.gifPerhaps it was the fact that we here in D.C. are preparing to be covered in snow due to an ill-timed spring snowstorm that made us think of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its future plans. In doing so, we learned that FEMA this month issued its federal fiscal year (FY) 2018-2022 Strategic Plan.

Among the agency’s key objectives in the strategic plan is to strengthen grants management, increase transparency and improve data analytics. FEMA administers more than 40 financial assistance programs, issuing thousands of grant awards each year. Between FY 2008 and FY 2017, FEMA provided about $100 billion in financial assistance.

FEMA admits that the process for applying for and administering grants has grown complex. Therefore, it seeks to find ways to simplify this process, which will require increased consistency and integration across FEMA, improved support to grant recipients, reliable data about grant performance, modern information systems and robust data analytics capabilities to strengthen internal oversight and increase public transparency and accountability.

The plan states that “establishing consistent and standardized business practices throughout the grant lifecycle demonstrates the agency’s commitment to reducing the complexity and increasing the effectiveness of grants management.” Along with implementing consistent policies and internal controls to improve grants oversight, the agency also aims to continue its multi-year effort to establish a single, holistic grants management information technology platform through the Grants Management Modernization initiative and the accompanying Financial System Modernization initiative to update its outdated legacy financial system.

“FEMA requires consistent, reliable and high-quality data analytics to inform decisionmaking and risk management before, during and after disasters,” the agency explains. “Consistent data management and improved infrastructure can reduce delays and decrease costs in mission delivery.” FEMA adds that it will continue to invest in the Enterprise Data & Analytics Modernization Initiative to provide consistent data management and “an integrated, modern and cost-effective enterprise data analysis and reporting environment.”

Through improved data analytics capabilities, FEMA anticipates that it can better address inefficiencies and risks in its grants program delivery and monitor trends in audit findings. “This will allow federal dollars to have the most impact possible by reducing adverse audit findings and eliminating deobligation and recoupment of funding,” according to the strategic plan. “Enhanced data management and analytics capabilities will also enable greater transparency about where, when and why grant dollars are being spent, allowing FEMA to cultivate greater accountability, consistency, and trust — not only within the agency, but also throughout the emergency management community and with the general public.”

The use of data analytics among federal agencies to determine how to best use federal funds is a growing trend. It will be interesting to see how this develops for FEMA. It will also be interesting to see how much snow we eventually have here in D.C.

What do you think about FEMA’s strategic plan? We’d love to hear from you.

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