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Case Studies - USDA Grants Management

Streamlining the Grants Management process from Application to Award for tens of thousands of users using SAP and Pega solutions.

The Challenge.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides billions of dollars in funding for programs supporting research and development in food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management.   The USDA has implemented a comprehensive Grants Management solution called ezFedGrants as the USDA solution that enables the application and management of USDA grants and agreements online. 

In an effort to streamline grant-making and grants management processes across the department, better enforce and ensure compliance with grant management laws and best practices, and automate and simplify internal and external grant management processes, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) implemented the ezFedGrants system.  While this grants and agreements management system will eventually be utilized by all agencies and offices across USDA, currently there are seven agencies utilizing ezFedGrants: the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE).

 

The ezFedGrants system comprises an internal portal, used for internal USDA business processes, and an external portal, used to facilitate and manage interactions between USDA and its grants applicants and recipients. The platform for the internal portal is SAP (CRM Grantor Management) while the platform for the external portal is PEGA and is integrated to the SAP financial system.

 

In order to successfully utilize this grants and agreements management system, USDA required skilled and knowledgeable contractor support in a variety of areas: project management, help desk support, training, and communications and documentation. Such support required personnel with the relevant knowledge and skills not only in software development and deployment but also in grants and agreements management.

The Solution.

The Genesis team was able to offer USDA personnel with extensive subject matter knowledge and skills on SAP (Financials, CRM), Grants Management, Pega, software development, project management, and grants management, among other important knowledge and skills.

 

On the project management side, our team was able to shape and manage an effective structure for the support of the ezFedGrants system, as well as assist in the planning and execution for the implementation of new functionality and support the adoption by other USDA agencies and offices.

 

Genesis quickly set up an effective help desk team and structure that has been able to resolve over 90 percent of user issues within the first hour of receiving inquiries. The help desk services both USDA internal users (employees and contractors) as well as its external users (grant and agreement applicants, recipients, and partners).

 

The Genesis team also developed comprehensive training materials and conducted frequent training sessions for USDA internal and external users on a variety of ezFedGrants-related subjects. Our team delivered supplemented the curriculum with extensive, supporting documentation including job aids, SOPs, agency-specific reference guides, functional design documents, and other helpful resources.  The team built and stored all ezFedGrants artifacts on a robust SharePoint site, “WikiGrants,”

 

The Results.

The work of the Genesis team has enabled the USDA to maintain and sustain ezFedGrants for its current users but also to expand the system’s functionality and grow its users.

 

The ezFedGrants help desk now resolves an average of 300 inquiries per month, assisting both internal and external users and working with users across the country. The help desk continues to resolve 90 percent of its inquiries within the first hour of receiving them. This has promoted USDA and applicant/recipient usage of the system, improved and expedited grant payment request submissions and processing, ensured proper grant progress report submissions and review, and enabled the practice of better grants and agreements management processes across the department.

 

In addition, our team trains approximately 100 people per month, including agency and recipient users. These sessions cover the full-length of the grant life cycle and touch on various user roles and system functionality.

 

With this support, USDA has already initiated steps to onboard other USDA offices, such as the Office of Trade Services (OTP), and agencies, such as the Forest Service, into the ezFedGrants system.