Sneak Preview: Senate Introduces Own Version of GREAT Act

Jerry Ashworth
June 28, 2019 at 07:20:37 ET
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(The following was excerpted from an article in Thompson Grants’ Federal Grants Management Handbook.) A bipartisan group of senators recently introduced its version of the Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency (GREAT) Act of 2019 (S. 1829), which includes most of the provisions addressed in a House version (H.R. 150) issued earlier this year, but would give the federal government more time to establish grant reporting data standards.

The GREAT Act would require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create a comprehensive and standardized data structure to cover all data elements reported by recipients of federal grants and cooperative agreements. Last year, a version of the legislation passed the House, but stalled in the Senate, despite bipartisan support during the 115th Congress, so bills have now been reintroduced in both chambers in the 116th Congress. With a unanimous 422-0 vote, the House on Jan. 17 passed H.R. 150, sponsored by Reps. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) and Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), and has sent it to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.

On June 13, Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Enzi, (R-Wyo.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) reintroduced the Senate version of the legislation. “One of my highest priorities in Congress is transparency of federal taxpayer dollars for the taxpayers,” said Lankford. “Competing for federal grants is one of the most widely used methods of dispersing federal dollars around our nation. That process can be difficult to navigate and creates hours of often duplicative compliance paperwork for grant recipients. The GREAT Act streamlines data transparency requirements for grant recipients and ultimately makes data collection and dissemination to Congress faster and easier.”

While the intent of both the House and Senate versions are generally the same, there are some differences, particularly involving timelines. The House version would require OMB and HHS, upon enactment of the legislation, to establish within one year governmentwide data standards for information related to federal awards reported by recipients. Under the Senate version, the deadline for the data standards is two years after enactment. The Senate version also adds a provision not included in the House bill that states that the federal government may not use such data standards “to require the collection of any data not otherwise required under federal law.”

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time here.)
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