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4.4.1 Description of Environment (brief)

4.4.2 Use Case

Name 

Description<

Primary Actor<

Supporting Actors<

Stakeholders and Interests

Pre-Conditions

Post Conditions

Success condition

Failure  condition:

Minimal Guarantee

Trigger

Main Success Scenario

Extensions

Variations

Frequency: 

Assumptions

Special Requirements

Issues

Outcome

4.4.3 Recommendations

  • Identity, Interactions, Regulations and Governance



4.4.1 Description of Environment

Grant Lifecycle (note to cite grants.gov)

  1. Pre-Award Phase - Funding Opportunities and Application Review
  2. Award Phase - Award Decisions and Notifications
  3. Post Award Phase - Implementation, Reporting, and Closeout

4.4.2 Description via four rings

  1. Pre-Award Phase - Funding Opportunities and Application Review
    1. ID
    2. Interactions
    3. Regulations
    4. Governance
  2. Award Phase - Award Decisions and Notifications
    1. ID
    2. Interactions
    3. Regulations
    4. Governance
  3. Post Award Phase - Implementation, Reporting, and Closeout
    1. ID
    2. Interactions
    3. Regulations
    4. Governance

4.4.3 Conclusions



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The Grants Community Blockchain would allow agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the Treasury Department to share a blockchain with NSF to keep track of grant applications in order to avoid duplications.


The blockchain would notify member agencies any time that a grant making proposal comes into NSF, which could then determine whether that proposal has been already been funded by a specific agency. 


In theory, the Treasury Department could also be on the blockchain so it could directly fund projects after a program officer has approved it. Likewise, universities would be able to see the status of their grant applications through the blockchain.




Using blockchain to improve data management in the public sector

February 2017 




NSF explores blockchain for grants management

The National Science Foundation is investigating blockchain's potential for making the grants review and award process more efficient.

The Grants Community Blockchain would allow agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the Treasury Department to share a blockchain with NSF to keep track of grant applications in order to avoid duplication's.

“At NSF, we take ideas from the outside world in the form of proposals, and program officers work to set up panels of reviewers to assess the quality of those ideas,” NSF CIO Dorothy Aronson told GCN. “This blockchain would be a way of helping NSF and other agencies avoid duplication of review and funding of similar ideas so we can fund science more quickly.”

The blockchain would notify member agencies any time that a grantmaking proposal comes into NSF, which could then determine whether that proposal has been already been funded by a specific agency.  The information would allow program officers to determine if a proposal would make more sense for another agency to support.

In theory, the Treasury Department could also be on the blockchain so it could directly fund projects after a program officer has approved it. Likewise, universities would be able to see the status of their grant applications through the blockchain.

“The initial thinking is to validate if we can establish blockchain at all to establish a linkage between NIH or another peer agency that we haven’t specifically identified yet,” Aronson said. “The chain over time could be very large and manage many kinds of transactions.”

The goal of this initiative is to reduce the workload for program officers so they can focus on higher-level tasks, like "strategic thinking, traveling and learning,” Aronson said. “While they are reviewing proposals, they don’t have the opportunity" to attend conferences and to learn about more cutting-edge technologies that should be funded by NSF.

“There is a problem in the research environment where we want to know that we are funding the right thing.  If we are funding something similar to something someone else is funding, it’s not necessarily the best use of our funds.  We are trying to always find the best way of granting the money,” Aronson said.

The work to create the blockchain is being funded by theGeneral Service Administration’s 10x program, which helps to fund small-scale experiments at government agencies.

About the Author


Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for GCN, covering cloud, cybersecurity and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Before joining GCN, Friedman was a reporter for Gambling Compliance, where she covered state issues related to casinos, lotteries and fantasy sports. She has also written for Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily on state telecom and cloud computing. Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted atsfriedman@gcn.comor follow her on Twitter@SaraEFriedman.

Click herefor previous articles by Friedman

Assessing the Potential to Improve Grants Management Using Blockchain Technology

June 2019
Topics: Government Agency Operations, Grants Management, Computer Methodologies, Distributed Ledger/Blockchain
Jasmine A. Faubert, The MITRE Corporation
Tracey G. Amos, The MITRE Corporation
Bianca N. Piccione, The MITRE Corporation
 

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MITRE’s study results support the hypothesis that improvements in grants management for both federal agencies and grant recipients can be enabled through the use of blockchain technology. The primary benefit to federal agencies was improved decision making through improved transparency, quality, and timeliness of grant financial and performance information. The primary benefit to grant recipients was reducing redundant reporting to multiple grantmaking entities and auditors. Payment efficiency was a secondary benefit.

Achieving the identified benefits will require addressing the Actions Needed items identified by those we interviewed, as well as other actions to mitigate the challenges and barriers identified by the interviewees. Those most often cited were:

  • Control of access to and protection of personally identifiable information (PII) and sensitive/proprietary information
  • Need for artificial intelligence and analytics to make effective use of all the information
  • Changes to regulations, policies, and procedures to clearly define responsibilities and accountabilities in a new business operating model where federal and non-federal grants management processes are more integrated

Five potential barriers were identified related to the impact on states based on the few states interviewed; the magnitude and extent of the impact across all states is not yet known.

Findings in three key communities are described below.

Grants Management Community:

  • Reduces grant recipients’ redundant reporting to multiple grantmaking entities and auditors
  • Improves payment efficiency for second- and third-tier grant recipients
  • Supports more informed decision making by federal grantmaking entities
  • Must be integrated with grantmaking and grant recipient entities’ systems used to manage day-to-day grants management operations

Financial Management Community:

  • Improves transparency, quality, and timeliness of financial information
  • Must be integrated with payment request and processing systems

Inspector General Community:

  • Improves ability to detect fraud, waste, and abuse
  • Improves ability to efficiently conduct audits

Based on our study results, we developed recom­mendations should the federal government seek to pursue implementation of the proposed grants management business operating model and a Dis­tributed Grants Ledger solution based on block­chain technology.

We recommend the federal government set up a grants management blockchain demonstration project, or proof of concept. A demonstration project would test a subset of Benefits and further explore a subset of Actions Needed, Challenges, and mitigation actions and engage a consortium of federal, public, and private sector grantmaking and grant recipient entities to evaluate the results.

We recommend that in parallel with a demon­stration project, the federal government initiate further analysis of complex challenges and barriers and determine the magnitude and the extent of the state-related Barriers. In addition, the fed­eral government should, also in parallel, prioritize, sequence, and further analyze Actions Needed and mitigation actions identified by the study to ensure successful adoption of the proposed business op­erating model and blockchain technology.

4.4.1 Description of Environment

4.4.2 Description via four rings

4.4.3 Conclusions

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