Grants Management

OUR OVERVIEW

Modernizing Your Grants Business?

At HighPoint Digital, Inc., we take pride in our team of seasoned Grants Management experts and their ability to integrate seamlessly within your teams to form a formidable and comprehensive knowledge base ready for immediate deployment across your value delivery channels. Our mission is clear: to champion our customer’s goals. Our approach and methods go beyond Information Technology (IT) solutions to include architecting grants management excellence into processes, data, and products. We craft and implement IT solutions that align with and compliment your vision.

Since Grants are citizen-facing, successful grants management supports our goal of elevating the citizen experience, prioritizing equality and improving outcomes for all individuals regardless of background or circumstances. The HighPoint team goes the distance to infuse Human-Centered Design (HCD) principles, change management, and training programs into your activities, elevating support desk operations and creating a Grants end-user contact center that sets the gold standard for service. We specialize in stakeholder engagement that proactively manages program transformation, ensuring smooth transitions and strategic communication. This ensures that your Grants Management programs and requirements achieve the envisioned agency goals and objectives.

This page details HighPoint’s core Grants-related capabilities:

  • Training
  • Support Services and Knowledge Management
  • Program Communications and Change Management
  • Grants Analytics
  • Lean, Agile Program Management
  • Grants IT Design, Development, and Testing

Overview

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2022, the Federal Government awarded over $9 trillion in grants and other related citizen-facing instruments. State and local Governments received hundreds of billions of dollars in funding and resources. Administering grants on this scale comes with significant challenges, including streamlining and modernization, transparency, duplication, overlap and fragmentation, and internal controls and oversight. A complex framework of law, regulation, policy, and procedures has developed across the U.S. Federal assistance space over time to ensure that the full range of Federal financial assistance awards are appropriately managed. These awards include everything from complex, high-value, multi-year refugee resettlement projects to one-time guest speaker air travel reimbursements. For example, agency enterprises face the dynamic and challenging task of balancing ongoing changes to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Uniform Guidance [2 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 200] with emerging legislation and grants management guidance. Additionally, grants management field staff regularly report feeling overwhelmed navigating the ever-changing grants management requirements and lifecycle support systems that were created to provide the public with transparency regarding U.S. Federal financial assistance activities.

The challenge that Federal grantors face can be summarized in five observations:

  1. Laws, regulations, and policy governing Federal assistance transactions are complex and change often.
  2. The vast range of stakeholders with which grants program managers and IT grants management authorities must engage and accommodate to facilitate their interrelated missions spans a variety of business units within the enterprise and Government agencies, all with distinct authorities and command structures.
  3. Different entities manage the various resources available to the Federal grantor community, and understanding where to find them and how they interrelate can be challenging. A significant majority of the Federal grantor user community is already at or near capacity with current duties in the field, not including recommended Federal assistance knowledge development and related skills training.
  4. Policy authorities report that using traditional training approaches for such a complex body of knowledge with a transient workforce facing multiple demands has not been as effective as desired.
  5. Staff in the field report that the aforementioned obstacles often impede policy and program intent and desired outcomes. For instance, in the case of U.S. foreign affairs and national security interests, these challenges can make the United States a less effective purveyor of diplomacy by yielding opportunities for foreign relations to competitors such as China.

Nearly every year, this policy and stakeholder framework is expanded following new Congressional statutes and/or regulations, memoranda, organizational and structural changes, and recommendations from entities such as the OMB and agency Offices of the Inspector General (OIG). This requires Federal grantors and policy authorities to spend considerable time building and negotiating relationships, analyzing new requirements, and updating corresponding systems and business processes to remain compliant with law and policy.

Amidst this framework of evolving stakeholders, statutes, regulations, and policy, Federal grantors and policy authorities must actively understand and use a wide array of IT systems to accomplish their Federal financial assistance duties. This presents a significant ongoing learning curve to both Federal grantors and policy authorities who must navigate a frequently changing set of compliance rules, system processes and instruction, and reporting requirements. For instance, most Federal grantors must operate in and assist their recipient implementers navigating many disparate IT platforms including:

  • System for Award Management (SAM.gov)
  • Grants.gov
  • Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS)
  • Agency baseline grants management platform
  • Agency enterprise financial systems
  • Payment systems such as the Automated Standard Application for Payments (ASAP) or Payment Management System (PMS) and USASpending.gov

HighPoint has deep expertise working with the Federal financial assistance community, grants policy and procedures, technical assistance, and IT service management and support. We have a proven history implementing grants management solutions using Agile development methodologies. As Federal agencies evaluate their options for supporting the grants management workforce and increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of Federal assistance operations, HighPoint remains eager to work together to design and implement the most effective approaches to address known challenges and meet the agency’s mission.

Training

HighPoint’s core capabilities in this area span instructional design, curriculum and course development, mobile learning, gaming, 3D animation and avatars, and Section 508 compliance, and training support services including evaluation, Learning Management System (LMS) deployment and platform hosting, custom software development for learning platforms, web-conferencing and collaboration solutions, and learning and IT support staffing and talent management.

HighPoint has hundreds of passionate educators, writers, designers, media developers, and innovators who are developing and deploying more than 5,000 training and content products that support an estimated 30,000+ concurrent users every year. HighPoint’s training products follow specific established accessibility standards to ensure that all content is accessible across variations of modalities.

HighPoint facilitated and implemented the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Director of Division of Workforce Development (DWD) vision by creating a robust grants workforce professional development training and certification program. For this implementation, we employed a team of veteran professionals with the skills and experience to develop transformative learning paths, including in-person and virtual training, gaming, interactive videos, and instructor guides with lessons and group activities. For over a decade, HighPoint has delivered creative and engaging training programs and customized learning platforms to educational, nonprofit, and Federal agencies including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the U.S. Department of State (DOS), the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and HHS.

HighPoint’s experience positioned us well to support HHS with its important effort to launch the Grants Management Training Academy (GMTA), the premier training source for standardized and centralized grants-related training for HHS staff and Federal funds recipients. This critical project, designed to help grantees properly manage and account for Federal assistance funding and improve grant project performance outcomes, included creating a grants certification curriculum for thousands of Federal employees and grantees. HighPoint managed the curriculum development process, working closely with the agency’s Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to develop approximately 60 hours of Section 508-compliant curriculum. HighPoint also managed new curriculum deployment to the LMS, which included testing and creating Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) packages in the staging and production environments. In addition, the team created custom reports for the agency’s senior leadership on critical learning metrics, such as course completions and failures.

Our training includes innovative career development strategies; in-person, virtual, and hybrid instructor-led training; self-service tutorial resources; compliance; and oversight support for the full spectrum of the grants management community. Supporting over $1 trillion in assistance portfolios at HHS, HighPoint created the GMTA, a high-level grants workforce professional development training and certification program. Since starting our work with HHS in 2021, HighPoint has provided training content to over 1,600 learners and approximately 6,000 Federal employees responsible for implementing grants policy, accurately guiding grant recipients, and demonstrating fiduciary expertise administering their grants portfolios.

As part of our support for the DOS Federal financial assistance and grants management mission, HighPoint provides training on 10 Federal assistance award instruments including grants, cooperative agreements, individual grants, letter grants, fixed amount awards, property grants, voluntary and assessed contributions, Fulbright Commissions, and non-bulk bilateral agreements under C-175 authority. We also provide ad hoc and specialized year-end support for over 24,000 MyGrants State Assistance Management System (SAMS) Domestic and Overseas users, including recipient implementers and applicants and auditor stakeholders.

Support Services and Knowledge Management

The HighPoint team supports the growing DOS domestic and overseas grants communities to ensure successful adoption of the SAMS system’s new modules and features, smooth and effective business operations, and improve SAMS product quality through a managed change control process. The Tier 2 desk manages approximately 4,500 support tickets annually, while providing Federal assistance policy, business, and SAMS system subject matter expertise and related knowledge base support to external Tier 1, Tier 3, and configuration support teams.

The HighPoint team provides Tier 2 support and assistance for over 3,000 Federal users in 30 bureaus and 264 posts who execute Federal assistance totaling over $11.6 billion across more than 18,000 annual transactions. The team also supports over 10,000 applicant and recipient users associated with Foreign Public Entities, non-profit organizations, and other Federal assistance recipients.

Our core capabilities include:

  • Establishing, maintaining, and expanding a library of over 100 support desk knowledge base articles and associated Standard Operating Procedures
  • Incident identification, analysis, mitigation, and resolution
  • Coaching the integrated grants management IT help desk teams and stakeholders to optimize their performance and processes
  • Coordinating all end of fiscal year operations to ensure successful obligation of all planned Federal assistance award actions

Program Communications and Change Management

HighPoint’s communications and change management services including preparing and reviewing all messages meant for the system’s various user bases. We also develop monthly and quarterly transmission vehicles such as newsletters and ad hoc announcements that reach the entire Domestic and Overseas audience. Via the SAMS Program Management Office, the team consults with DOS regarding strategic communications planning, branding, crisis interactions, execution, and monitoring.

The HighPoint team leads large-scale inter-organizational change management projects impacting the Department’s Federal and foreign assistance communities, such as the Foreign Assistance Data Review initiative. For this, the team orchestrated and implemented the overarching change management strategy, coordinating amongst a range of external stakeholders including IT system, business owners, and policy authorities to ensure successful outcomes. Our core capabilities include planning and executing communications campaigns, establishing and curating organizational web presence, measuring and monitoring the effectiveness of communications vehicles and tactics, resource development, knowledge management, evaluating organizational effectiveness, and implementing business process improvements.

As experts in program communications and change management, the HighPoint team has established numerous program governance frameworks including Change Control Boards, user advocacy programs, HCD and feedback elicitation working groups, and User Acceptance Testing cohorts to inform and validate requirements and priorities within scaled Agile workstreams and methodologies. We leverage data analytics and metrics, design and evaluate end user surveys, conduct business process analyses, and lead stakeholder and relationship management to engage our client’s key audiences and realize their desired IT, business, and compliance outcomes according to ever-evolving legislative and regulatory environments.

Grants Analytics

The HighPoint team supporting the DOS grants management line of business are experts in Federal financial assistance data, policy, integrations, and governance.

With both IT and grants management business and policy subject matter expertise, HighPoint’s position within DOS is at the interface of systems design; Development, Modernization, and Enhancement (DM&E); Operations and Maintenance (O&M); systems integrations and assurance; and end user support and training. Managing a variety of policy, business, and data stakeholder equities, our clients rely upon HighPoint to interpret, apply, and ensure compliance with evolving Federal Government standards, regulations, and legislation including the Federal Integrated Business Framework (FIBF) grants management business standards, 2 CFR Part 200, 18 Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) 300, the DATA Act, and the Foreign Assistance Transparency and Accountability Act (FATAA). HighPoint leverages this multi-faceted perspective to design insightful and elegant data models and schemas, deliver superior grants analytics solutions, ensure compliance with Federally mandated reporting requirements, and respond nimbly to mission-critical, high visibility data calls and taskers.

HighPoint has unparalleled experience successfully delivering comprehensive data analytics services to our clients. This includes consulting with DOS stakeholders to implement key data elements to improve foreign assistance data quality, integrity, and availability; establishing data governance protocols for sensitive award reporting in crisis zones such as Afghanistan and Ukraine; and developing novel methods to query financial management and grants data sets to report on Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funding. Combined with our customer and quality service focus, HighPoint’s approach ensures that our team continually seeks to balance our client’s data quality, integrity, availability, and security goals with pragmatic business solution implementations that prioritize end user and data consumer considerations. We include appropriate strategies for change management, intuitive user experience design, communications, and training.

Among our many grants management and modernization initiatives accomplishments, HighPoint’s DOS SAMS efforts have:

  • Enabled the Department to close the OIG-identified Significant Deficiency in Grants Management IT Systems
  • Assisted policy and auditor authorities monitoring the Department’s award project performance and compliance
  • Migrated tens of thousands of Federal award records from paper to digital formats and across successive IT platforms built on a variety of technologies
  • Proactively identified, investigated, and remediated data discrepancies on public-facing reporting platforms

Lean, Agile Program Management

HighPoint’s grants program management practice hinges on methodically and rigorously coordinating enterprise projects and their outcomes to align with strategic organizational objectives across a range of core Federal financial assistance business areas. These include IT governance, policy analysis, and implementation; software design, development, and deployment; cybersecurity, training, and change management. Our expertise in identifying, establishing, and optimizing organizational value delivery streams places the emphasis on delivering real value to your program’s customers, centering processes on the people and relationships essential to your business outcomes and balancing adaptability and compliance.

With over a decade of experience establishing grants management IT governance structures, cost centers, change management frameworks, and operational teams, HighPoint experts advise and execute across the full spectrum of program management prerogatives. We have planned, executed, and sustained enterprise-wide organizational change management efforts, software deployments, and data optimization initiatives to improve program performance, visibility, and compliance. Our accomplishments include strategy and planning, legislative and policy analysis, risk management, financial management, and stakeholder management to business process and root cause analysis, performance monitoring and evaluation, technical assistance, and data analytics. These successes have enabled our clients to resolve OIG-identified Significant Deficiencies, standardize and streamline operations, improve data quality and compliance, and implement cost effective IT solutions in the dynamic Federal financial assistance legislative and regulatory environment.

HighPoint is deeply embedded within the operations of the Federal grants community. We are at the nexus of development teams, policy authorities, programmatic and financial management leaders, grants officers, recipient implementers, and auditing bodies such as agency OIGs. The HighPoint team are SMEs in Federal financial assistance law, regulation, policy, procedures, and the network of associated IT systems leveraged to execute the Federal assistance lifecycle from pre-award through closeout. We complete all grants policy training expected of Grants Officers (GO) and Grant Officer Representatives (GOR), build strong relationships with end users as trainers and knowledgeable, efficient technical support staff, while bringing a wealth of past experience as recipient implementer support staff, grants management specialists, and grants financial analysts. Our teams follow and report on developments and changes to grants-related law, Executive Orders, OMB directives, Agency-level policy changes, and OIG, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), and other reports and findings, to analyze and interpret their impact to the programs under our purview, and recommend mitigation/corrective actions that deliver real results for our clients.

Grants IT Design, Development, and Testing

As Federal financial assistance policy and business experts, HighPoint acts as user advocates, grants management SMEs, business and technical analysts on Scrum teams supporting Federal financial assistance IT program operations. We also test and evaluate potential system enhancements and future state application development.

HighPoint works closely with the customer and stakeholder base during application design, configuration, and enhancement requirements-gathering to define business needs and processes, identify potential solutions, vet products and capabilities, and validate the efficacy and compliance of proposed modernization and development efforts. Documenting customer needs and appropriate procedures for issuing Federal financial assistance allows the team to advise developers regarding system enhancements, user business, Federal financial assistance policy, reporting, and data requirements to support the missions of each unique DOS bureau and post.

HighPoint Agile experts operate within multiple scaled Agile Scrum teams to support the design, development, and testing of multiple interrelated Federal financial management systems. HighPoint’s expertise and accomplishments in HCD, development innovation and automation, systems and end user testing, systems integration and assurance, and data analytics power the operations, maintenance, and modernization of the full ecosystem of grants management capabilities leveraged by DOS.