Perkins Grant Portal Helps ADHE Cut Down on Time, Reporting Errors

October 7, 2009 by Emsi Burning Glass

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Monieca West is the Coordinator of Federal Programs at the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. She wrote the following piece to describe the Perkins Grant Portal that EMSI developed for ADHE. West says the Portal has received “nothing but praise” from local coordinators on how it’s streamlined the reporting process for the Perkins CTE program.

The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education program is a federally funded program that has been in existence for several decades and, with renewed legislation in 2006, the program introduced much more stringent performance accountability requirements. Success of the program is measured in six different areas and local recipients must report their accomplishments, including performance of six different special population subgroups. If local recipients are deficient, there is a chance for loss of funding at both state and local levels.

EMSI has provided the Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE) with two products that will improve methods for grant oversight and compliance, as well as a much more sophisticated method for analyzing and reporting the required data.

In prior years local recipients would formulate a plan for the use of funds and submit it to ADHE in either Microsoft Work or Microsoft Excel format. This resulted in numerous errors and applications that were not consistent across institutions. The problem was compounded by changes made to the plan throughout the year as conditions changed. End-of-year reporting and requests for reimbursement of funds were submitted manually and required many hours of verification, approval, and year-to-date calculations.

With the new Perkins Grant Portal, we now have a web-based tool that is extremely user friendly from the beginning to the end of the process. Safeguards are built in to minimize the amount of data to be entered as well as prompts when required data is missing. The reimbursement module not only streamlines the process, but provides automated end-of-year reconciliation and reporting. Local coordinators have expressed nothing but praise for the dramatic improvements of the new system and how easy it is to use.

Data is the foundation for determining how funds are used by local recipients as well as the basis for improvement plans when performance is deficient. The Accountability Module of the portal is programmed to provide all of the data required for federal reporting and will shortly include the ability to sort and filter data for each performance indicator by academic program, by race and gender, and by special population subgroup.

With these new tools, ADHE has realized a minimum 25% increase in efficiency and error reduction, and we expect for that rate to grow as we become more proficient with the portal and implement new elements as needs arise. Contributing greatly to the success of the project is the partnership ADHE has developed with EMSI staff and the excellent customer service received in the area of response to requests for changes, customer support, and the technical skills that were necessary to develop such a sophisticated and multi-purpose set of tools.

If you would like to learn more about EMSI’s web-based portal, or to see a demonstration, contact us.