What You Don’t Know Can Really Hurt You

January 25, 2012 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

How many grantees out there can honestly say they’ve read their grant terms and conditions cover to cover? Now, what about the federal grant administrative and cost principle circulars? Do you know everything they require? Do you even know who at your grantor agency to contact with questions?

If not, you could be making a truly expensive mistake.

Ken Dieffenbach of the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Inspector General spoke last week at a National Grants Management Association training session about ways to avoid grant fraud. Some of the things he said were truly eye-opening. When most people think of grant fraud, they may envision someone embezzling federal funds for their own use. However, even careless documentation of employee records has gotten some recipients in a heap of trouble.

“I don’t think most grantees, until there’s a problem, fully appreciate the liability … and the extreme damage a False Claims Act type case can cause them, [and it can be] just for something as simple as being sloppy with their timekeeping or for not adjusting the indirect cost rate for five to 10 years because no one told them to adjust it,” Dieffenbach said. “There have been some million dollar civil False Claims Act settlements recently” involving grants.

That’s a huge chuck of change!

If you haven’t taken the time to truly learn what all is involved in managing your grant, there’s no time like the present. Make sure you are aware of your terms and conditions, contact agency officials immediately if you have questions or suspect there may be a problem and get up-to-speed with all the federal requirements involved with your grant. I can’t emphasize this enough! To that point, this is where Thompson publications such as the Federal Grants Management Handbook and Single Audit Information Service can be worth their weight in gold. As you can see, knowing how to manage your grant properly can save yourself a lot of headaches, if not dollars, down the road.

What advice can you share to help avoid grant fraud? No one wants to lose their federal funding so please let us know your ideas.

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