Our grant writing tips this month are inspired by the implementation of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014, otherwise known as the Federal DATA Act. Effective in May of this year, this legislation is designed to improve the quality of the facts and figures used by Congress and federal funding agencies to make important spending choices…like whether to fund that grant for which you just applied.
To acquire more accurate data, the DATA Act standardizes process and outcome measures and creates uniform financial reporting requirements. For federal grant applicants, this means less flexibility in developing individual measurements of success. Rather, once funded, grant recipients are required to report on prescribed outcomes so that the government can compare apples to apples when reviewing the success of grant programs. In addition, consistent and reliable financial data provided in grant reports (no estimates!) is now being used to better inform the USASpending.gov database to increase transparency and accuracy of government spending. For a White House perspective on the Act, click here.
In the grant writing world, all this data talk begs the question, “what are current reliable sources of data to use when stating your case in grant applications?” Below you will find the sources most often used by Words for Good in researching health-related data for federal grant applications.
- The United States Census Bureau (census.gov): With functions such as its American FactFinder and QuickFacts, the Census Bureau offers national, state, county, and zip code level data related to common and specific population demographics.
- Community Commons: With search engines for Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNAs), Community Commons can help you identify the most vulnerable populations in your area. Under the Affordable Care Act, not-for-profit hospitals must conduct a CHNA at least once every three years. Thus, these assessments offer recent data at any given time.
- Supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, County Health Rankings & Roadmaps is excellent source of county-level information as to a variety of health outcomes and indicators. The data and rankings are updated every year.
If you have a question about the reliability of data you are using for a federal grant application, be sure to ask your grant writer. Digging for solid facts to support your case is one of our strengths! And be sure to share your favorite data source on our Facebook page. Knowledge – we mean, data – is power.