White House 📣: A “fundamental rewrite” to federal grantmaking
This is a big step forward that can transform the way the U.S. government works with front-line, local and next-gen social innovators.
Dear Unlock Aid community,
Last week, the White House made big news in our world when it announced it would embark on a “fundamental rewrite” of federal grantmaking rules to make it easier for organizations to work with the U.S. government. You can see the full list of their proposed changes here.
Since our founding, we’ve heard hundreds of stories of organizations that have had to stop serving vulnerable communities or close their doors because they couldn’t handle the complexity and cost of working with government agencies to deliver impact. Many of the world’s most innovative organizations have told us they’ve simply stopped trying to work with the U.S. government. This limits competition, stifles impact, increases costs, widens inequities, and accelerates the trend of hyper-consolidation in government contracting.
So proposing a “fundamental rewrite” in federal grantmaking is a big deal.
For local communities and social innovators working in global development, the White House’s proposed changes will:
Simplify the process for organizations to apply for U.S. government funding
Cut unnecessary red tape so that recipients of government grants can focus more on driving long-term impact
Make it easier for federal officials to write awards that pay for results instead of activities
All of these fixes align with the kinds of changes we need to see to modernize the way our public institutions deliver – and our 2023 policy platform elaborates on additional steps that policymakers can take.
In January, we published six predictions for 2023. #1 on that list was that the “Biden-Harris Administration will make it cool to believe in government again.”
We explained that:
[T]oo many federal agencies don’t operate with the urgency, flexibility, and innovation required… A myriad of unnecessary barriers can make the government feel impenetrable to more diverse and non-traditional players. Progress happens too slowly.
One of the biggest culprits is excessively complicated procurement practices. Complexity favors the few and the powerful who know how to play the game. But it leaves out the innovation we desperately need to address food insecurity, the effects of almost 90 million displaced persons, and under-resourced health care systems.
We predict 2023 will be the year that the Biden Administration champions a lot of really unsexy, in-the-weeds red tape issues and ushers in the reforms we need to build a 21st-century government that delivers.
With this pledge to “fundamentally rewrite” grantmaking rules, we’re on our way to seeing this prediction come true.
P.S. Taking on an issue as complex as procurement reform is a major step forward, but it’s just the beginning. We need a paradigm shift in the way our public institutions operate to meet the scale of our shared 21st-century challenges.
That’s why, last week, on the margins of the UN General Assembly, we kicked off our global listening tour: Rebuilding Public Institutions to Achieve the SDGs.
We asked 40+ business leaders, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, diaspora community leaders, social innovators, and other coalitions, “If we got to rebuild our public institutions to achieve the SDGs by 2030, what would we do differently?” Fixing outdated procurement rules made it to the list, along with many other issues.
Our next three stops on our global listening tour will be in: Dakar, Senegal; Kigali, Rwanda; and San Francisco, California, USA. Please let us know if you’ll be in any of those locations.
The White House’s announcement shows us that policymakers are willing to take on thorny issues to drive big and potentially transformative change. Now we need your help to reimagine what a reimagined U.S. approach to global development can look like.
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