TechnologyOne tackles Government funding issues with new Grants Management solution

TechnologyOne (ASX: TNE) has released a new Grants Management software solution to support the increasing use of grants by all levels of government to achieve policy outcomes and has already won contracts worth more than $500,000 in the initial launch phase.

The Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research in the ACT, a New Zealand government department, and the City of Melbourne are amongst the first customers to purchase the new solution, which enables both those who give and receive grants to manage every stage of the life cycle.

This includes developing criteria and advertising grants, submitting or receiving applications, evaluation, informing successful and unsuccessful applicants, creation of contracts between grantors and recipients, payment schedules, as well as all reporting and governance.

The new solution comes at a time when many grant-based organisations are renewing or reviewing legacy systems, which are no longer fit for purpose.

The Australian National Audit Office recently criticised IT grant systems and governance arrangements within government stating that they were not adequate to properly report on the outcomes of programs worth more than $3 billion.

TechnologyOne Executive Chairman Adrian Di Marco said the new solution was another example of the company listening to its customers' needs and developing new products to meet them.

"We have more than 100 Australian and State government agencies as customers and more than 250 local councils, and many are telling us their existing systems cannot keep up with the level of grant activity they're having to undertake," Mr Di Marco said.

"Within a single government there can be multiple systems ranging from those built in-house to packaged products - or in some cases even simple spreadsheets, which only manage one stage of the grants process.

"This makes it incredibly hard to assess whether outcomes are being achieved and if money is being spent in the most effective way.  Our solution enables governments to manage grants through their entire life cycle."

TechnologyOne has also commissioned a white paper from research company Longhaus, reviewing current approaches to Grants Management, focusing on the Queensland Government as a representation of the market as a whole.

State governments like Queensland provide grants for diverse areas, ranging from support for sporting bodies to addressing the needs of homeless people by allocating hundreds of millions in annual funding and the distribution of $18.74 billion in Australian Government grant funding.

The paper found that between the last two state budgets within Queensland alone, funding for grants relating to capital investments within the community rose by 45%, equating to $330 million more for existing and new grants.  It also highlighted that agencies must deliver, manage and track to completion each of these grants.

The scale of grants can vary from a simple rebate on a household water saving device, to a six-figure research contract that is spread over a number of years and involves set payments on the achievement of certain milestones and multiple reporting requirements.

The white paper also found that Governments are seeking to transition from the transaction-based ERP style systems of the 1990s to more interaction-based applications that focus on closer and more detailed relationships with customers and stakeholders.

However, they also need to make major cuts in their ICT spending due to a number of public policy strategies such as the Gershon Review.

Longhaus found that prior to the 2009 election, two thirds of Queensland Government departments were using more than 50 individual grants management systems with a cost of ownership of $23 million per annum.  These systems required support from 75 public service staff and 11 ICT contractors.

The move from transactional-based systems to those that are more customer relationship focused means that many agencies are using different systems for different stages of the grants management process.

Adrian Di Marco said this represented a huge opportunity for these organisations to streamline their processes through TechnologyOne's Grants Management system.

"An ad hoc approach to Grants Management means many large organisations are struggling to keep up with customer expectations and increasing levels of reporting, while spending unnecessary amounts of time and money supporting disparate systems."

"TechnologyOne Grants Management helps organisations develop more effective and efficient processes using integrated information and can help them to analyse whether grants are achieving the stated policy outcomes."