Red-tape impact studied

Nonprofit organizations waste time and money navigating a maze of standards and forms in applying for and reporting on government grants, a survey says.

The online survey finds a “strong need for full implementation” of a 1999 federal law requiring U.S. agencies to create uniform standards and forms for grant applications and reporting.

“There is very strong overall support for the streamlining process,” says the survey by OMB Watch, the Urban Institute and GuideStar.

“Clearly there are enormous savings of time and resources to be had if the federal government is successful in creating uniform grant application and reporting standards and forms,” the survey says.

Most of 365 nonprofits responding to the survey report they received funding from multiple levels of government, including federal, state and local agencies, with nearly half receiving funding from four or more agencies.

Six of 10 nonprofits responding to the survey offer four or more programs backed by government funds.

Yet government funding accounts for less than half the total budget of most nonprofits responding.

Of nonprofits responding, 47.7 percent report cash-flow problems because of government funding, one-third say they are required to file multiple reports for the same activities and 42.4 percent say their funding agencies have more than one definition for the same activity.

Nearly three of every four nonprofits responding report they receive federal grants, with nearly seven in 10 receiving grants through states and 55 percent receiving grants through local government.

Creating uniform standards and forms will be most effective, the survey says, if state and local governments adopt the same standards.

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