When the Kaua’i County, Hawaii, began a push to minimize paper, it seized the opportunity to move to web-based grants management software for tracking funding the county receives and disburses
- By Stephanie Kanowitz
- May 01, 2017
In Kaua’i County, Hawaii, grants management has long been an
important part of local government operations. It’s also been
handled using paper.
When the county began a push to minimize paper and add
web-based systems, County Grants Program Coordinator Ann Wooton
saw an opportunity. Soon, the county will use StreamLink Software’s
web-based AmpliFund grants management software for tracking
grants the county receives and makes. This type of software lets
governments manage internal business processes for receiving grant
money, managing the distribution of that money and then tracking and
monitoring the programmatic and financial performance of the grant.
“We like the fact that it’s a web-based system,” Wooton said. “Anyone
in the department can just log in and look at the documents if
they need vs. having to call somebody for a file,” she said. That makes
it “a lot more convenient for anyone who may have a question surrounding
a grant that we have or that we’ve given.”
AmpliFund Public Sector software—it also comes in pre-award,
full cycle, federal and specialized modules—is also expected to save
time for Wooton and other grants administrators. Just how much, she
won’t know until it’s been in use for a grant award cycle or two.
“In some of the programs, especially ones that have a lot of requirements
and documents, I think it will save us a lot of time and
effort in looking for papers or maintaining papers or files,” she said.
“And then anyone can access documents; they’re not locked in somebody’s
office that’s on vacation.”
She’s still in the process of adapting the grant application the
county awards from its general funds and community development
block grant funds. It’s in draft form now until the workflow aspect of
the application is ironed out, but Wooton said she expects to move
forward with it next month. She plans to roll out all applications this
year and next year get to the point where actual data from the accounting
system can be rolled into AmpliFund and linked to awards.
The county didn’t have to add any infrastructure to use Ampli-
Fund; it’s as simple as going online and logging in, Wooton said. Plus,
employees can access the cloud-based system remotely. Plus, the interface
is similar to the county’s other web-based systems, making
acceptance of the new approach easier. “It’s nothing foreign that folks
are going to have a hard time understanding,” she said.
Ease of use is an important feature of AmpliFund, said Stream-
Link CEO Adam Roth. “We’re never going to be a server-based solution,
so there’s going to be very little infrastructure that [agencies]
need,” he said. AmpliFund is built using an open API, so it seamlessly
connects to existing ERP databases, financial and human resources
systems, detailed insight into how money is flowing in and out of the
organization for more effective management.
AmpliFund can standardize grants processes, create core systems,
provide access to data at all layers of the grant and collect and manage
both financial and programmatic data. Together, that gives governments
greater visibility, ensures compliance with new federal grant
requirements and also allows agencies to draw down funds in their
allotted timeframes, Roth said.
Kaua’i County’s push for less paper is a common internal driver in
grants management. Another is citizens’ desire for transparency akin
to the open checkbook systems that lets citizens see how government
funds are spent. External sources, especially the federal government
in the form of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, the
Office of Management and Budget’s Uniform Grant Guidance and
the Treasury Department’s “Do Not Pay” initiative, are also forcing
state and local governments to be more open and report on grants in
Grants managers are also facing greater pressure to track postaward
performance. “It’s no longer just acceptable to say, ‘Hey, we
did X.’ Now it’s ‘How did you ensure that subrecipients A, B, C and
D were able to accomplish what they said they were going to do?’”
A final motivator is old-fashioned return on investment.
“We see anywhere from a 15 [percent] to 40 percent uptick in
unspent revenue in the first year of implementation with a software
system,” Roth said.
Governments are taking notice. He’s seen a 700 percent to 800
percent increase in the number of state requests for information and
proposals for grants management upgrades.
After all, big numbers are involved: The federal government manages
about $600 billion in grants annually, and state and local governments
depend on those grants for 20 percent to 30 percent of their revenues.
“When there’s pressure that gets created relative to how those
dollars are being managed. These are real issues for state and local
governments to figure out,” Roth said.
This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Security Today.