The unsaid reason why agencies resist GMLOB

Last week and today I’ve been having interested chats with various people about GMLOB and attempts to consolidate grants management operations. One key point has emerged from these discussions and I thought it might be useful to describe it here.

The problem agencies have with GMLOB or grants consolidation often has nothing to do with the grantee population or a GMLOB consortia’s solution vis-a-vis the grantmaking effort itself. Rather, it concerns the linkages within the department with other systems — and not just electronic systems, although they are a good example. That is, for many agencies the grants work links inextricably to financial, policy, and resource systems. To have to move data to another system (or multiple other systems, which is a real possibility under GMLOB) and then bring it back to work with an existing system could easily be ineffective, inefficient, and uneconomical. It also raises training and data standardization issues. It is not clear to many that agencies or their stakeholders will gain anything from consolidation at all, beyond satisfying an OMB mandate.

This leads to a question: Should OMB try harder to “sell” GMLOB to agencies — based on the benefits it promises for them and their stakeholders — rather than setting down mandates to be met? And if they should, how could they sell it? What do you all think? You can comment anonymously right here!