5 Key Competencies for Aspiring Federal Grants Management Pros

A job in Financial Assistance Management might not have topped your career wish list when you first entered the job market (unfulfilled professional basketball aspirations notwithstanding). But some people who take a government job or work for a nonprofit eventually stumble into a grant manager role – and they end up loving it.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) defines federal grants management as work that “involves implementing and managing federal grants and cooperative agreements and providing grants-related assistance and services.”

Chief Financial Officers Council logoIf a grants management role sounds like it might be up your alley, the CFO Council has identified nine functional competencies that are standard performance requirements. Below, we have highlighted our five favorites (and summarized the other four).

1. Accountability

  • Ensures that effective controls are developed and maintained to assure the integrity of the organization
  • Holds self and others accountable for rules and responsibilities
  • Can be relied upon to ensure that projects within areas of specific responsibility are completed in a timely manner and within budget
  • Monitors and evaluates plans, focuses on results, and measuring attainment of outcomes

2. Compliance

  • Knowledge of procedures for assessing, evaluating, managing, and monitoring financial assistance programs or projects for compliance with statutes, regulations, policies, and procedures

3. Creative Thinking

  • Develops innovative ideas and solutions
  • Designs new methods where established policies or procedures are inapplicable, unavailable, or could be improved to promote efficiency and effectiveness

4. Financial Analysis

  • Knowledge of financial management and budgeting methods, policies, procedures, systems, and practices to assess the financial capability of non-Federal entities applying for or receiving Federal financial assistance

5. Project and Program Management

  • Knowledge of the principles, methods, and tools for developing, scheduling, coordinating, and managing projects or programs and resources – including monitoring and inspecting costs, work, and recipient performance


The above competencies and their descriptions have been adapted from page 8 of the CFO Council’s report on the Financial Assistance Management Career Roadmap. Other competencies singled out by the CFO Council include Financial Assistance Management, Organizational Awareness, Planning and Evaluation and Relationship Management.

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