2/18/21 - A Message from Secretary Hou: Bright Spot - IDHS GATA Unit

Good Evening IDHS Staff,

Although we continue to make progress in navigating COVID and the dissemination of the vaccine, we know that there is still a journey ahead of us. Fortunately, at IDHS, we do not have to do this work alone. Through our network of engaged and established providers, we have been able to ensure that families across all communities are able to access the resources that they need. Across IDHS, many teams are responsible for supporting the work of our providers, including the IDHS Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (GATA) Unit. The GATA Unit is responsible for developing grant management rules, policies, processes, procedures, and implementation guidance, training, and technical assistance for our grantee community and grant program personnel. I am proud to highlight their work in today's Bright Spot.

Additionally, the Unit performs operational activities such as assisting and advising division and grantee grantmaking staff, maintaining the IDHS grant webpage, creating and maintain the IDHS grantmaking calendar, providing technical support for grant management systems, accepting grantee indirect cost rate proposals, managing the IDHS Stop Payment List System, and reviewing GATA exception requests from program personnel prior to submission to GOMB/GATU for approval. These efforts are designed to ensure and enforce GATA compliance, and to maximize the utilization of limited State resources to reach the largest population for grant recipients by improving economies and efficiencies. With the due diligence of the GATA Unit, we are also able to minimize grant waste, fraud, and abuse while maximizing the use of public funds.

Beyond the initial challenges, felt across State employees, of internet bandwidth and systems access, COVID did not have an impact on the GATA Unit and their work. Instead, even with an increased workload, the GATA Unit has been able to leverage technology, organize tracking, and focus communications to create a highly functioning remote working team. Despite also having to remotely hire and train all the current GATA staff, the team has still had significant accomplishments: centralized the acceptance of grantee Indirect Cost Rate Proposal, monitored and recorded compliance actions in the IDHS SPLTS database, and developed End of Module Summaries (takeaways) to the IDHS Grantee Learning Management System - just to name a few. Thanks to their leadership, we were also able to provide 2,553 grants, totaling nearly $925 million. On the horizon, the team still plans to develop and implement the IDHS Staff GATA Learning Management System by June 30th, to implement the Statewide Grant Management System, and many other significant priorities.

The GATA Unit is made up of 5 staff, including Gary Kramer, Rhonda Mitchell, Melody Harkey-Dufner, Mickey Harris, and Dawn Pyles, with additional support for the team provided by Nick Marsters in the Bureau of Contract Compliance and Rob Grindle in the Office of General Counsel.

Gary, thank you to you and your team for your dedication and commitment to our network of providers. With your team's support, I know that our network of providers will continue to be great partners and stewards of using State resources. I look forward to the continuing journey we have ahead.



Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS