Groups Call for IT to Streamline Grants Programs

Congress should investigate the role of information technology as part of its effort to streamline federal grants programs, a representative of the National Conference of State Legislatures told a House panel Thursday.

The National Governors' Association and NCSL said they are encouraged by a House bill that would streamline the process used to waive requirements associated with federal grants programs, such as Medicaid and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

The bill would streamline the time-consuming federal waiver process that states must go through by requiring "federal agencies to establish expedited review procedures for state-requested waivers if the agency previously authorized a similar waiver for another state," according to its sponsor, Rep. Mark Green (R-Wis.).

But Congress needs to undertake a "more thorough review of waiver application experiences before proceeding with legislation," including a look at how an ability to file applications electronically could streamline the process, said William Pound, NCSL executive director.

"The states themselves are doing things online to take advantage of technology for not filing paperwork," Pound said. "It's clear within government that agencies are filing fast but are slowed by past rules and regulations.... Anything that makes the process smoother would be beneficial."

Raymond Scheppach, NGA executive director, joined Pound for testimony before the House subcommittees on National Economic Growth; Natural Resources and Regulatory Affairs; and Government Management, Information and Technology of the Government Reform Committee.

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