Let's Get Honest! Absolutely Uncommon Analysis of Family & Conciliation Courts' Operations, Practices, & History

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Archive for September 30th, 2012

HHS’ Grants Database (TAGGS) isn’t “Close enough for Jazz.”

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[this post is about 9,000 words.  Like most of my posts,

that includes a lot of quotations… Showing how HHS,

the US agency in place to help Humans be Healthy,

isn’t Helping us Track its Grants well enough.

Data elements that the users should be able to sort on, aren’t even menu choices...and of the fields they CAN sort on, those aren’t always even entered.

I pick on a few examples, including an Abstinence/healthy marriage grantee, of course]



HHS Data Quality in the TAGGS Database.  ~ ~ Accessible Data for the Public

Business is Business — and some VERY sophisticated software is available to those doing business with the US Government, or those whose functional engineering projects, or fundraising, depends on excellent and relevant, reliable software.  At the bottom of the last post, I also clearly showed how fortunes are being made in the field of software platforms to government (and elsewhere), i.e., a prosperous Private Equity Firm in SF investing in several software companies (sometimes, at once) is doing VERY well; they also became the majority shareholder in BlackBaud, Inc. — which provides software Cloudfund raising to nonprofits, including our Minnesota TechnicalAssistance and Training provider to OVW Grantees (and if anyone else can afford to attend, like a battered woman), Duluth Abuse Intervention Programs.
Blackbaud is an international company whose founder was from the UK and answered an ad from a NYCity school for a software design.  Tony Bakker is majority owner of a Charleston South Carolina soccer team, a real estate investor and “restaurateur,” after buying and restoring a 1760 property in Charleston, sold it for $7.6 million, having found a $5 million property on the waterfront they just couldn’t turn down.
And think about it — HHS and DOJ funding to train people how to work with people that batter, people that are being battered, and how to provide supervised visitation services, and to an organization promoting that Community Collective Response will help stop evil behavior in a community.  In studying further how to do this, one of its sub-projects (BWJP) also chose to “collectively” associate with the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, an organization of dubious origins in Southern Los Angeles (according to some), which has sought to UNdo the concept of criminal law and replace it with the language of behavioral science, and which promotes a psychological terminology as a legal technique to re-frame children saying “no” to abuse as parental alienation, and which believes that “CONFLICT,” if high, is bad.
They have no conflict, however, with centralized control if it includes them, or taking grants to expand their technical capacities, or web presence.
MEANWHILE — if the public is expecting representative government still, at this late date — this is what they get:  A database of HHS grants which is incomplete, inaccurate, whose entries are inconsistently entered below the level of what basic support staff would accept — and in which one CANNOT sort on the most relevant fields in Advanced Search format.   I have almost never run across someone even LOOKING at this database as a layperson because they were curious about the use of its funds (and I’ve talked and corresponded with hundreds of heads of household involved in the courts; funds to the courts are recorded in here! — who even looks at TAGGS.HHS.GOV unless they got this habit from my blog, or people who associate with Liz Richards’ “national association for family court justice” from which I got the idea to look it up (and just kept going….).
Some of these fields are below.  Fiscal Year is shown — but
 http://taggs.hhs.gov/HelpStatus/datadictionary.cfm
Appropriation Fiscal Year Fiscal Year of the appropriation used to fund this action. Note: An appropriation is a statute made available by Congress that provides the authority to incur financial obligations and to make payments associated with DHHS grant programs.
Appropriation Number Treasury account code identifying the appropriation used to fund this action. Note: An appropriation is a statute made available by Congress that provides the authority to incur financial obligations and to make payments associated with DHHS grant programs.
Appropriation Title Full title of an appropriation. Note: An appropriation is a statute made available by Congress that provides the authority to incur financial obligations and to make payments associated with DHHS grant programs.
Authorization Legal authority cited in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) upon which an HHS program is based (acts, amendments to acts, Public Law numbers, titles, sections, Statute Codes, citations to the US Code, Executive Orders, Presidential Reorganization Plans, and Memoranda from an agency head).

The matters in blue remind us that spending isn’t supposed to happen without authorization and appropriation.   Yet look at the “Advanced Search” page and see if you can find those fields.

There’s one link to “Advanced Search” (explore on your own time), and several shortcuts to other menu items, and some pre-planned reports.  Yet I found in a general search, there are plenty of grants missing codes — DUNS code, some missing a CFDA Code (plenty missing a principal investigator; do not yet know if these are specifically block grants only).  Of the principal investigator there really ought to be a first name, last name designation and no title unless there’s a title field.  that’s BASIC.

http://taggs.hhs.gov/AdvancedSearch.cfm

Any feedback on how someone may get to this data via the public access site — I see many fields described which do not show up on “Advanced Search” options — please let me know.  For example, nothing should be paid out which Congress, Executive Order, or some other authority has awarded, right?  But we cannot search on it.  You can do only these types of searches & run some pre-formatted reports.
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