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The last decade has seen non-stop reform of the principles governing Federal grants management. Many of these are not new and should be familiar to experienced grant-seekers. The effort to apply them – pervasively – across the 26 Federal agencies that make grants is new. It also poses significant challenges to many organizations as grant seekers.



In such a reform milieu, what can an organization do to ensure that it continues to win grants? These possible action steps come to mind:

  1. Learn the principles that are intended to govern how the Federal agencies manage the grant making process
  2. Consider in what ways and to what degree such principles already operate or can be applied in the local context
  3. Adopt these principles and then build them into planning, proposing, and executing new projects and initiatives to Federal grant makers



At their core, many of the key principles guiding federal grant reform are principles of organizational management. Since virtually every proposal needs a work plan, an evaluation plan, a management plan, and a continuation plan, these are fine places for applicants to discuss how such principles either already guide or will guide local activities.


The table aligns current Federal management reform principles with specific proposal narrative components where an applicant might choose to incorporate them. Although the phrasing derives from publications of the Office of Management and the Budget (OMB), the concepts are intended embrace all Federal agencies.


Federal Reform Principles Proposal Narrative Components
Using data-driven analysis Needs assessment, evaluation plan
Creating goal-oriented organizations Program design or work plan
Presenting goal-driven action plans Program design or work plan
Setting interim performance targets Program design, timeline
Measuring at milestones Timeline, evaluation plan
Regularly reviewing performance data Evaluation plan
Improving performance continuously Program design, evaluation plan
Being accountable for results Evaluation plan
Reviewing outcome metrics Evaluation plan
Reviewing leading performance indicators Evaluation plan
Monitoring and tracking progress Evaluation plan
Making midcourse adjustments Management plan
Employing team-based leadership Management plan
Achieving transparency of operations Management plan
Sharing best practices Program design, continuation plan


This is one of a series of posts on the Federal grant reforms and the future of Federal grant making.


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