FEDERAL DISCRETIONARY GRANT REVIEWS

How Longevity helped the Department of Education modernize the grant review process.

As the numbers continue to grow each year, leaders at the United States Department of Education sought grants management professionals to provide logistical support and technical assistance to help streamline all facets of the grant review process. They enlisted Longevity to lead the charge.

Read Time: 2 minutes

INTRODUCTION:

Federal discretionary grant reviews are a critical component of ED’s funding process and are designed to ensure that projects are worthwhile and grant awards are fair and impartial. These reviews are the foundation for higher-level funding decisions. Each year, ED receives more than 25,000 grant proposals that in turn are reviewed by thousands of reviewers. These reviewers are chosen for their expertise and ability to assess a proposed project’s quality. As these numbers continue to grow each year, leaders at the United States Department of Education sought grants management professionals to provide logistical support and technical assistance to help streamline all facets of the grant review process. Longevity Consulting has provided peer review services to ED since 2013, having supported the review of more than 10,000 grant applications.

THE PROBLEM:

Using best practices gleaned from supporting grant reviews at numerous grant-making agencies throughout the federal government, Longevity’s proven methodologies were tailored to the unique needs of each grant competition. However, a few challenges stood in ED’s way.

  • Short review timelines: Short review timelines reduced the effectiveness of the grant review process.
  • Paper-based review process: Paper-based reviews significantly delayed delivery time of grant applications to reviewers, as well as peer review schedules.
  • Legacy workflows: Antiquated and highly varied processes (G5 system, reviewer selection, panel creation) caused delays in the delivery of critical services to ED.

These challenges interfered with ED’s ability to support reviewers and grantees in a timely and effective way.

THE SOLUTION:

To better serve reviewers and grantees, as well as strengthen the efficiency of the grant review process, ED required a more innovative approach. They enlisted Longevity to lead the charge.

Longevity’s team of peer review professionals’ deep understanding of internal ED systems, the peer review process, and ED environment and culture developed a Project Management Plan to support high-volume peer review environments. Utilizing a web-based knowledge base with hundreds of standards operating procedures, process documents, quality control checklists, and templates, and reviewer databases, they not only helped promote continuous process improvement but revolutionized the peer review process.

How Longevity guided ED to a more efficient review process:

  • Process Improvement: Identified numerous process improvement opportunities utilizing a library of tools and templates designed to achieve measurable performance gains.
  • Automated Application Screening: Automated the screening process to determine critical data points needed for application processing, eligibility determinations, and reviewer panel formations.
  • Website Development: Created competition-specific websites housed with critical information such as FAQs, and panel information.
  • Automated Panel Creation: Created a panel assignment system (PAS) to ensure reviewer panels are in accordance with ED’s panel creation rules.

THE RESULTS:

The work ED did with Longevity led to significant improvements in the quality of the grant review process, including:

  • Reduced risk. Example: Housing grant applications on an internal web-based platform significantly accelerated the delivery time of applications to reviewers and effectiveness of the review process.
  • Technology enhancements. Example: Customized COTS web-based application screening system and panel assignment system helped streamline the review process.
  • Dedicated Staff. Example: Increased capacity to remain flexible in response to ED surge support needs.
  • Improved Service. Example: Introduced new processes informed by best practices and lessons learned.

CONCLUSION:

Longevity completely changed the way ED went about the business of conducting grant reviews. Helping you modernize and become more efficient in your processes is our specialty at Longevity. We’ll leverage our deep industry expertise in grants management to give you the tools and know-how to make the most valuable contribution possible.