Our firm recently read an RFP issued by a Government of Puerto Rico agency. With federal grant funding, professional services were sought, including project management and grant management from a vendor. From a simple review, it might seem like there is no issue with pursuing such an approach.
However, if we use principled performance elements with more critical thinking, an old Puerto Rican adage comes to mind: "A goat supervising the lettuce?" Providing both services is inappropriate and should be separated in the procurement process.
Separating grant management from project management in a federally funded project offers several distinct advantages, as these functions involve different responsibilities and expertise. Here are some key reasons why it's beneficial to maintain this separation:
1. Focus and Expertise:
Specialized Roles: Grant management requires knowledge of regulations, compliance, reporting, and financial oversight related to the specific grant program. Project management involves overseeing project scope, tasks, timelines, and deliverables. Separating the roles allows each team to focus on their area of expertise.
2. Compliance and Accountability:
Regulatory Adherence: Grant management ensures the project complies with federal regulations, funding terms, and reporting requirements. Having a dedicated grant management team minimizes the risk of non-compliance.
Financial Stewardship: Grant managers oversee budget allocation, expense tracking, and audits to ensure funds are used appropriately. This financial oversight is crucial for maintaining the project's integrity.
3. Risk Management:
Risk Identification: Grant managers assess and mitigate the grant's financial, compliance, and administrative risks. They can identify potential issues before they impact the project.
Operational Risks: Project managers focus on operational risks related to project execution, resource allocation, and task completion.
4. Efficiency and Effectiveness:
Efficient Allocation: Separate roles prevent overlapping responsibilities and ensure that resources are allocated efficiently, reducing the risk of duplication or mismanagement.
Streamlined Execution: Project managers can focus on project milestones, timelines, and quality, while grant managers handle administrative and financial aspects.
5. Reporting and Communication:
Transparency: Clear separation enhances openness in communication. Grant managers communicate compliance and financial matters with funding agencies, while project managers communicate project progress and deliverables to stakeholders.
6. Preventing Conflicts of Interest:
Objectivity: Separation helps prevent conflicts of interest by ensuring that decision-making is based on objective criteria rather than potential financial gains.
7. Comprehensive Oversight:
Holistic Perspective: Having grant and project management teams provides a holistic view of the project, encompassing legal, financial, operational, and strategic aspects.
8. Regulatory Changes and Expertise:
Adaptation to Changes: Grant programs and federal regulations may evolve. Dedicated grant managers stay informed about changes and adapt project operations accordingly.
Separating grant management from project management enhances accountability, compliance, and overall project success. It minimizes risks, maximizes efficiency, and ensures that federal funds are managed responsibly, allowing project managers to focus on achieving project goals while grant managers handle regulatory and financial aspects.
Organizations supervising federal grant funds must anchor their performance on well thought off policies.
Sometimes the obvious dilemas can be explained by a cultural phrase... Don't you think?