A Truly Difficult Balancing Act

April 24, 2012 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

On Monday, the National Grants Management Association kicked off its annual training conference in Alexandria, Va., with a hefty discussion on the Office of Management and Budget’s notice of proposed guidance. The importance of this notice and the potentially dramatic changes it could bring to the grants management and single audit process cannot be understated. This is why the OMB has the unenviable task of eventually concluding on changes that everyone can live with, whether they like them or not.

During the lunchtime keynote address, OMB Controller Danny Werfel told the attendees that the proposal has already received numerous comments from stakeholders, some of which are in favor of the changes, while others have expressed many concerns about them. He said it’s a difficult balancing act to issue guidance that will offer changes to streamline the grants management process for one set of stakeholders while not increasing the burden on another. For example, raising the single audit threshold to $1 million may free many smaller grantees from having a single audit performed, yet could place a greater burden on their pass-through agencies having to monitor them.

It will be interesting to see how OMB achieves this balancing act. More importantly, the comment period ends April 30. Let OMB know your feelings about the proposed guidance by sending comments to Regulations.gov, or you can send them to NGMA, which will synthesize the comments and send them along to OMB.

Incidentally, I got an answer from OMB at the conference to my concern about the lack of attribution on many of the comments sent in through Regulations.gov. There may be cases where a stakeholder has a comment but doesn’t want to be identified or doesn’t want to come across as representing his or her organization. Therefore, the site’s software allows him or her to click not to be  identified. Interesting.

The conference sessions so far have been informative so look for articles on these sessions in upcoming issues of the Federal Grants Management Handbook and Single Audit Information Service. Also if you are attending the conference and are reading this, look me up; I’m in the front row.

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