NIFA is embarking on a Grants Modernization Initiative to transform our grants management systems, processes, and policies. Two of our critical grants management systems, CREEMS and ezFedGrants, are nearing the end of their lifecycle and require replacement. NIFA is currently investigating the eRA grants management system as a prospective end-to-end management system.
This Grants Modernization Initiative is a key priority for NIFA, and our goal is to keep you informed and engaged. Ultimately, this initiative will transform how we do business. We will strive to create a seamless experience for staff and customers, improve our ability to track and report outcomes, and help achieve the agency mission more efficiently and effectively.
NIFA’s Grants Modernization Initiative Overview
The Office of Management and Budget has designated specific agencies to stand up Quality Service Management Offices (QSMOs) for select mission support functions. QSMOs are federally managed marketplaces for technology and service solutions. The two Federal agencies that serve as QSMO service providers for grants management are Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Institute of Health (NIH). Each of these agencies offers their own grants management solution, either GrantSolutions (from HHS) or eRA (from NIH). The Grants Modernization Initiative conducted a preliminary review of these QSMO grants management solutions and selected NIH’s eRA system solution as the leading candidate to modernize and streamline NIFA’s operations and ensure a cohesive customer experience.
The Grants Modernization Initiative will be completed in phases. The first phase of this project was to research and assess eRA and GrantSolutions and determine broad suitability for NIFA’s various business activities. This phase concluded in January 2023 with the selection of NIH’s eRA system as the most suitable QSMO solution. The second phase will consist of a fit/gap analysis to further inform selection, final development, and implementation of the new system. NIFA will launch several teams to ensure the initiative is informed by agency-wide expertise and involvement. The third and final phase of the initiative is implementation by onboarding NIFA and its applicant community onto the eRA systems and services. This includes completing any development and data migration activities as well as the rollout of eRA systems and solutions across the agency. The rollout will include training and direct onboarding support for NIFA staff, applicants, and grantees as they move into the first year of system utilization.
Grants Modernization Initiative Phase 2: Fit/Gap Analysis
We are excited to partner with NIH/eRA as we move forward into GMI Phase 2: Fit/Gap Analysis. This marks a transition from broad QSMO evaluation to comprehensive analysis of every detail of NIFA’s grants management systems. We will carefully define our current and desired business practices and map them to eRA to develop a vision for the future of NIFA’s grants management operations.
This is an exciting time to reimagine how we do business to strengthen our capabilities and improve the lives of our customers, stakeholders, and staff.
We welcome your feedback on NIFA’s Grants Modernization Initiative. If you have any comments, questions or concerns about NIFA’s current grants managements systems or the development and implementation of eRA as NIFA’s future grants management system, please send them to NIFAGrantsMod@usda.gov.