Illinois Aging Network Alert June 14, 2019
A report of the impact Area Agencies on Aging have on Illinois seniors.
The Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (GATA) became law in 2014 to establish consistent, federally compliant requirements for all grants regardless of the source of funding. Recognizing that 66% of Illinois‘ general revenue budget are grants the Illinois Association of Area Agencies on Aging believes that is GATA is good government. However, the implementation of GATA has not been an example of good government but rather a tremendous strain and stretch on the people resources of organizations in Illinois.
The implementation of GATA began at the height of the Illinois Budget crisis. During this time organizations were not receiving payments from the state and were laying off or terminating employees. These organizations were just trying to maintain and were required to learn a new system to get their payments. Training was made available, but the time and people resources were so limited during this time it made learning GATA processes even more difficult. The format of the budget requires much more minutia and trivial details creating only math challenges for administrators which is an unproductive use of time.
The process of implementing GATA could have been slowed with greater input from stakeholders. State agencies were also struggling with the speed of which information was being disseminated and were not always able to assist with questions. Currently, workgroups have been established to develop a uniform template for grants management. These workgroups seem to be an attempt to involve more individuals but once again the process is being rushed and outside input is not being considered. We must take a step back with the GATA process before taking another huge leap forward.
The Federally mandated Area Plan on Aging budget for Area Agencies on Aging is proving to be an issue for the GATA implementation. There is some ability to customize grant budget but at a monetary cost of each state department making the request for customization. If GATA seeks to fully implement the process they must provide support to it’s departments and embrace stakeholder input.
Lawmakers must understand the time and effort involved to implement a worthwhile project like GATA. When the process is rushed not allowing input or proper guidance Illinois grantees will be spending more time and effort on implementing GATA than serving the people of Illinois. We ask for your support in making GATA implementation a positive process for Illinois. I4A offers the following suggestions:
- Slow the process down to extend over FY20
- Improve communication to all stakeholders with clear descriptions of the workgroups and clear assignments that assure representatives from all stakeholder groups are represented on each workgroup
- Complete an assessment of the financial impact for all state agencies and grantees
For more information, contact Susan C. Real, Legislative Chair (309-829-2065 ext. 218) or Joy Paeth, I4A President (618-222-2561).