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Grants and ContractsOutreach

The Challenge: Developing a More Effective Grants and Contracts Process

Outreach has significantly increased the number and scale of its external grants and contracts. In 2004, Outreach secured a 36% increase in the total amount of outside funding from the previous year. As external funding has become a key part of serving internal and external communities, the variation and inefficiencies in the proposal development and review processes threatened to derail that progress. Critical issues such as the accuracy of proposal budgets and the specifics of contract language can, without adequate review, transform a golden opportunity to a frustrating project. However, long review processes aren't possible in the deadline-driven world of external funding. While many staff members across Outreach have skills and experience that can inform, improve, and evaluate opportunities and specific proposals, there was no structure to capture their wisdom. Outreach, without clear and efficient processes, had no way to leverage knowledge gained through each submission to improve quality and strategy of each proposal.

The Solution: Make Information Easily Available and Develop a Unit-Wide Review Process

A cross-functional team came together to develop a more effective contracts and grants process for Outreach. They examined the current processes within Outreach and benchmarked with other units. The team developed strategies to process proposals and administer contracts and grants smoothly and quickly, while reducing errors and providing early notice of potential risk areas. The team also designed an on-line tool box containing reference materials and standard forms.

Outreach HomepageTo provide face to face discussion, promote the most effective and efficient development of prospective proposals, and facilitate updates to the Outreach executive team on the status of all proposals within Outreach, the team launched a regular Grants and Contracts Community Incubator meeting. In addition to the proposal-specific discussion of the Incubator sessions, the team also established regular Grants and Contracts Community meetings for general training, information sharing, and cross-communication. The team tracks potential proposals to manage workflow, facilitate resource re-allocation, and analyze trends.

In the first year following implementation of the improvements, Outreach's annual capacity to process proposals and awards increased by 13%, from 166 to 188, with a resulting dollar increase from approximately $14.8 million to $21.1 million. The support, attention, and advocacy of the team members has facilitated growth and engagement, and this increase in proposals and awards reflects the efforts of many people across the Outreach organization.

 

For more information about the Outreach Grants and Contracts Community, visit http://gcc.outreach.psu.edu/ or contact Bob Igo at rli2@outreach.psu.edu.


October 2006

 
Craig D. Weidemann
Craig D. Weidemann, Vice President for Outreach
"External funding is becoming a critical and growing component of our Outreach work, allowing us to better serve our various stakeholders.  The challenge of identifying a funding source, developing a proposal, and implementing the work of the grant is a very challenging process. The work of the team is helping us to allow the PI [Principal Investigator] to pursue and implement grants opportunities more efficiently.  In Outreach, we have significantly increased our externally funded portfolio; however, we have an aggressive agenda to expand it even further. The work of the team is playing a key role in achieving this vision."
 
 


Sponsor:
   Jeff Smith
Leader:
   Bob Igo

Members:
   Jeff Bridger
   Robert Butler
   Chuck Herd
   Roger Martell
   Lynn Melander Moore
   Ginny Newman
   Jane Owens
   Todd Roth
   Joseph Segilia
   Lori Stania
   Elaine Stewart
   Elisabeth Workman
   Sharon Youtzy
   
Facilitator:
   Barbara Sherlock


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