Two Shall Now Become One

November 2, 2011 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

The days of the Grants Policy Committee and the Grants Executive Board are no more.

The Office of Management and Budget last week created the Council on Financial Assistance Reform, an interagency group of executive branch officials, to recommend policies and actions to effectively oversee grants and cooperative agreements, and share best practices with federal agencies delivering financial assistance. The council also will talk with government stakeholders about expanding its responsibilities to cover loans, insurance, direct assistance and other types of financial assistance.

The new council will replace the Grants Policy Committee, which was created in 1999, and the Grants Executive Board, which was established in 2004. Those panels consisted of federal officials seeking to create a more streamlined and accountable structure to coordinate financial assistance.

CFAR stems from President Obama’s June 2011 Campaign to Cut Waste, in which he issued an executive order that established the Government Accountability and Transparency Board. The council will work with the GATB and federal agencies to encourage sound federal financial management by developing a standardized business process, data standards, metrics and information technology. It also will work with stakeholders to coordinate simplified financial assistance processes that eliminate unnecessary regulations, reporting and grant-agreement requirements and increase grantee flexibility in meeting grant requirements.

CFAR will be composed of the OMB comptroller and senior policy officials from the departments of Agriculture, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Labor and Transportation. OMB will select an official from one other federal agency to the council to represent the other grantmaking agencies.

One would hope that combining the efforts of the GPC and GEB into a single council will encourage a more focused approach to grants oversight and reasonable ideas that the grantee community can support. OMB Comptroller Danny Werfel in a recent blog stated that the council will make “bold changes” and “achieve real results” through reforms to reduce grantee burdens while focusing on performance to improve outcomes. Let’s hope so.

What is your reaction to the creation of the new council? How could it be more efficient than having the GPC and GEB? Let us know.

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