When the United States signed on as the largest single donor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund), it also made another important commitment: Up to five percent of the US pledge was to be set aside for future technical assistance to help countries receiving Global Fund grants.

In 2007, the US government (USG) designed a mechanism to supply critically needed technical support to Global Fund grantees. The USG then began a procurement process that resulted in a contract with Management Sciences for Health and six partners (Abt Associates, Palladium, International HIV/AIDS Alliance, Pact, Realizing Global Health, Training Resources Group, Inc.)  for Grant Management Solutions (GMS). The first GMS ran for five years (2007–2012). Following a second procurement process, the USG awarded MSH and six partners a contract for a second iteration of GMS with a slightly different mandate.

How GMS Works

GMS provides technical support to countries receiving grants from the Global Fund. This technical support is in the appropriate language, country specific, and immediately responsive to the needs of country coordinating mechanisms (CCMs), principal recipients (PRs) and subrecipients (SRs) of grants from the Global Fund with the aim of improved functioning of these grants. This aim is itself intended to yield better quality and more effective programs designed to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, malaria,and tuberculosis. GMS’s mandate now includes three main objectives:

Objective 1: GMS’s prime objective is to provide urgent, short-term, management-related technical support to Global Fund grantees. GMS’s unique form of technical support allows countries to ask for exactly the kind of help they need most to succeed and to move to their next disbursement or phase of funding. This support generally falls into the following areas:

  • Governance and leadership. GMS works directly with the country coordinating mechanism (CCM), a national body made up of public and private entities that is responsible for developing Global Fund grant proposals, coordinating grant activities, and providing grant oversight through sound leadership practices.
  • Financial and grant management. Each Global Fund grant has a principal recipient (PR), an existing institution or organization identified by the CCM through a rigorous procurement process, which is responsible for grant implementation. Working directly with the PR, GMS seeks ways to strengthen financial and management systems and procedures.
  • Procurement and supply management (PSM) of pharmaceuticals and commodities. GMS works with PRs to ensure that their PSM systems are appropriate for the resources available in country. This assistance might range from helping a PR with its PSM planning and forecasting of how many and what kinds of medicines and pharmaceutical supplies the nation needs, to helping a PR streamline importation and customs procedures and find ways to improve the supply chain.
  • Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and reporting. The progress and success of grants is vital to a grantee’s receiving monies from the Global Fund in the future, thus comprehensive M&E and reporting are essential. GMS’s assistance may range from workshops on how to use the Monitoring and Evaluation Systems Strengthening Tool—a planning process required by the Global Fund—to improving reporting procedures and ensuring adequate M&E staffing.

In these four areas, GMS consultant teams may work with CCMs and grant implementers, PRs and SRs, to prepare documents such as governance manuals and bylaws, program implementation manuals, budgets, procurement and supply management plans, monitoring and evaluation (or M&E) plans and guidelines. GMS may also work with USAID mission offices. All products GMS helps to prepare are the property of the entity for whom they are prepared—the CCM, PR, or SR.

Objective 2: GMS aims to develop the capacity of regional organizations and consultants so that they, rather than GMS or other projects or entitities, may offer urgent technical support to improve performance of CCMs, PRs and SRs.

Objective 3: GMS aims to develop tools and other materials for the Global Fund community and platforms for sharing them.

GMS, a three-year project that may be continued for up to two more years, was originated through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and is coordinated by the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator.