The Partnership Data Portal ("the Portal") is being conceived as an on-line system for collecting information from state arts agencies and regional arts organizations and subgrantees, if feasible. Such a system could:
automate the capture of Final Descriptive Report (FDR) data submitted annually to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and NASAA;
feature user-friendly analysis and reporting tools;
facilitate the linkage of FDR data with other data sources;
encourage use of the data by the NEA, states, regions, researchers and the public;
support data archiving, validity checking and other data management functions;
accommodate changes to federal reporting requirements over time.
What information would the Portal collect?
The Portal would capture post-award information about the grants and other programmatic and administrative activities that states and regions fund through their NEA Partnership Agreement grant awards and related matching dollars. Organized around the NEA's reporting guidelines for Partnership Agreement Final Descriptive Reports, the Portal would capture the data elements that a state arts agency is required to submit to the NEA annually. Automated linkages with other kinds of demographic, economic or cultural data could be contained in the Portal to support additional analysis of the impact of state and regional activities.
Why is this idea being pursued now?
The NEA initiated conversations about the Portal with NASAA in 2011 in conjunction with the implementation of the NEA's new strategic plan, which includes a new goal of broadening public understanding about the arts. With the adoption of that plan, the NEA has been revisiting its performance measures, grantee reporting requirements and data collection procedures. The Portal project is a complementary part of that effort. Additional factors influencing the NEA's interest in this project include:
A desire to expedite the receipt of data from states and regions
A desire to demonstrate federal agency transparency by making data more accessible to the public
Recognition that states, regions and the NEA could all benefit from additional tools to help them document the impact and benefits of public funding for the arts
How might states and regions benefit?
A portal could enhance the accessibility and utility of FDR data for states and regions in a variety of ways:
Reports from the Partnership Data Portal could illustrate how federal and state dollars together reach into local communities and help provide access to the arts for all Americans.
Built-in benchmarking reports could help states and regions compare information across state lines.
Establishing an on-line portal offers an excellent opportunity to link to other data sources, including U.S. Census information and other geographic, demographic, educational, economic or cultural data sets.
A portal system could allow states and regions to submit a single set of FDR materials each year, rather than creating separate data dumps and reports for NASAA and the NEA.
What is NASAA's role?
NASAA has entered into a cooperative agreement with the NEA to comanage the process for assessing the feasibility of the Portal and the options for system design. NASAA will help the NEA by recruiting technical experts and will advise the technical team on the development of a consultative process that involves dialogue with all stakeholders: states, regions, the NEA and NASAA. The providers of state and regional application and grants management systems also will be included. Under the terms of the cooperative agreement, the NEA holds the final authority to accept or reject all recommendations.
When will the Portal be built?
The construction timetable for a portal system has yet to be determined. From January to December 2012, the Portal project will focus on conceptualization and system design, with a goal of creating a blueprint that will work for all stakeholders. If the concept proves feasible and if funds are available, construction of the Portal would commence at a later date. NASAA and the NEA will provide regular updates to states and regions (and their technology providers) to help them track the evolution of this project over time.
What will the Portal recommendations contain?
System recommendations will include:
Technical specifications for system architecture, data mapping, hardware and software
Design and user interface guidance
A system integration plan addressing how a portal could interface with existing state, regional and federal data management platforms
Estimates of system development costs and timetables
Analysis of implementation costs and time burdens on all stakeholders
Guidance on the kinds of technical assistance, training or other forms of support that states and regions would need in order to use the new system
Will states and regions be required to use the Portal?
We are just beginning to assess the feasibility of a portal, so it is too soon to make a determination. It is reasonable to assume that states and regions will be required to file their Final Descriptive Reports through some kind of on-line system at some point in the future.
Would the Portal replace the other systems I am already using to collect information from my applicants and grantees?
It is hoped that a portal will offer you a powerful new analysis and reporting tool, but it will be designed to complement—not to replace—your existing systems for managing grants and financial data.