New bill aims to simplify federal grant applications, boost funding for underserved communities

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The Streamlining Federal Grants Act was introduced by a bipartisan trio of senators to build upon a 2019 law.

Lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan bill that proposes to streamline the federal grant application process while increasing access to funding opportunities for under-resourced communities and local governments.

Applying for federal grants can be a lengthy and complicated undertaking that often includes bureaucratic red-tape and requires a multifaceted understanding of the process.

The Streamlining Federal Grants Act would task the Office of Management and Budget with developing guidance for all federal agencies on how to modernize and simplify their grant applications. The legislation also calls for agencies to update the software and systems used to manage their grant application processes and implement common data standards for grant reporting.

"Complicated and outdated processes to apply for federal grants often result in underserved communities missing out on opportunities to receive critical funding," Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich. — who introduced the bill along with Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas and James Lankford, R-Okla. — said in a statement. 

Lankford noted that "strategic, competitive federal grants can open opportunities" for communities nationwide, but "the huge federal bureaucratic maze continues to make the grant process difficult to navigate. 

"Each agency has its own grants process, but the public-facing side of grants should be as simple and straightforward as possible," he added.

The bill expands upon a 2019 law that sought to streamline data transparency requirements for federal grant recipients. The new bill would require federal agencies to appoint a senior official to oversee grant application reforms and reporting processes. 

The bill comes as the administration and Congress increasingly seek to improve the federal grant application process across critical sectors. Earlier this month, the White House announced a new, streamlined funding application process for infrastructure projects, called the Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods program. 

Lawmakers also introduced legislation last year that would establish a universal application for victims seeking disaster recovery assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Small Business Administration and the Housing and Urban Development and Agriculture departments. 

The Streamlining Federal Grants Act was referred to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on July 12.

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