USDA holistic grants management solution improves efficiency, visibility, and compliance

Case Study

USDA holistic grants management solution improves efficiency, visibility, and compliance

  • Human touches are reduced down to a single touchpoint
  • Payment processing now takes three business days, one of which is because of electronic funds transfer processing
  • Customers are able to see award and payment status online through the Pega portal
"ezFedGrants is a holistic, modern grants management solution that allows USDA to meet it aggressive customer service, operational efficiency, visibility and compliance goals. As an example, USDA has been able to streamline the payments process using Pega integrated with SAP Financials and CRM from six to eight months on average down to just three business days."

The Challenge

For more than 150 years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has impacted the lives of generations of Americans by providing leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition and related issues based on public policy, the best available science, and effective management. Today, USDA is made up of 29 agencies and offices with nearly 100,000 employees who serve the American people at more than 4,500 locations across the country and abroad. The Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) is responsible for the financial leadership of the overall USDA enterprise and manages approximately $208 billion in assets and $143 billion in annual spending.

Over the years, and in response to a number of executive orders, the OFCO’s administrative charter evolved and it became a certified Federal Shared Service Provider for both financial and Human Resource (HR) Management across the federal government. As such, financial, HR and payroll services are provided to customer agencies on a cost-recovery basis and are defined under service level agreements. Under the purview of the OCFO, the National Finance Center (NFC) assists other federal agencies by providing cost-effective, standardized and interoperable financial and human resource management solutions that support their strategic missions. With the recent success of Food and Nutrition Service’s $70 billion-dollar grant program, the USDA’s CFO began talks with other USDA and non-USDA agencies to leverage ezFedGrants, USDA’s grants management solution.

The Solution

EzFedGrants is a comprehensive grants management solution, capable of administering from cradle to grave, the nearly $100 billion of USDA loans, guarantees, and insurance that flow annually in support of American farmers and ranchers, and has been built to scale to meet the grant requirements of additional external federal agencies. To accomplish this objective, USDA chose Pegasystems to serve as the grantee-facing, self-service portal, and core technology used to automate the many complex processes of the grants management lifecycle across many disparate organizations.

The Pega solution is integrated with SAP CRM to manage transactional contracts and SAP Financials to meet its federal financial management and reporting requirements. Grants are now reconciled to the financials throughout the program lifecycle as automated alerts communicate discrepancies to external organizations and allow for reconciliation to the general ledger which is the single source of truth. Additionally, the solution captures the agreement terms and conditions, makes certain that checks and balances are in place and an audit trail exists to prove separation of duties.

The Results

Since the solution harnesses the USDA’s lean Six Sigma grants management process, the department is confident that 97% of its grant programs across the enterprise will be automated in ezFedGrants using Pega’s iterative, agile methodology. The cost savings from the number of systems that will no longer be needed within the individual organizations is significant. It is expected that the system will process more than $500 billion in the next two years once external agencies begin migrating to ezFedGrants.

The cost savings USDA will benefit from by standardizing to one integrated, point solution that allows for reuse of processes is projected to be in the millions. Since the capabilities of the ezFedGrants have built off of one code base, derived from a single model development paradigm, the solution will continue to meet unique or changing grant requirements while meeting compliance objectives. Employees can focus on their mission activities instead of being overwhelmed with administrative minutia while meeting the rising expectations of their customers. In short, USDA can rest assured it has a robust, sustainable solution for the future.

All text sourced directly from Governments Building for Change.

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  • Industry: Government
  • Product Area: Customer Service
  • Product Area: Platform
  • Challenge: Customer Service
  • Challenge: Operational Excellence