The Popcorn’s Ready! Time Now To Chew Through Some Comments

June 6, 2013 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

73525_popcorn2You ever sat and watched a bag of microwave popcorn cook in the microwave? You turn it on for a couple of minutes and then wait. For the first minute or so, nothing. Then you hear one pop, then another and then right before the time expires, you get this mass poppity-pop as all (or most) of the kernels pop in the last few seconds. Your bag is now expanded and full and ready to eat.

I mention this not to make you hungry (although it worked on me – I’m a popcorn aficionado!), but as an analogy of what we’ve seen with the public comments sent in to the Office of Management and Budget on its proposed grants reform guidance. I had complained in previous posts that OMB had received only a trickle of comments for several weeks (pop). Up to late May, the number of comments hovered around 70. Then a check of the Regulations.gov website on Monday, a day after the comment period closed showed that about 130 comments had been submitted (pop, pop).

At first I thought this was alarming, considering about 350 comments were submitted last year on OMB’s advanced proposal on grants reform. However, I then realized the last batch of comments was posted as of May 31. Knowing how most people act (like that bag of popcorn), I figured they were waiting for the last second to submit comments. Let’s wait a day or so and see what happens, I thought.

Glad I did. After checking the site yesterday, the number of comments posted had swelled to 290 (poppity-pop-pop-pop) and again this morning, up even further to 310 (pop, pop, pop) as this latest batch was posted on June 5. I’m not sure if all the comments have been accounted for, but at least this number is respectable and closely matches that of last year’s.

Now, what do the comments say. Some range from a simple sentence or two, while others are more than 100 pages long! Some agree with the proposal, others strongly disagree with the potential changes. We will be reporting on these comments in the Federal Grants Management Handbook and Single Audit Information Service for the next several issues to give you a taste of what fellow stakeholders are saying.

The main thing is that I commend all of you who did submit comments to OMB on this proposal. The changes in the proposal are huge and wide-sweeping and could greatly alter how grants management and single audit processes are now conducted. The more comments submitted from the widest audience possible will really help OMB hone in on how grantees and grantor agencies want to oversee their grants. OMB, the ball is in your court now, and you may want to have a little snack while you read through all the comments. I suggest a bag of popcorn!

Let us know how you felt about OMB comments process and if you had any concerns with the proposal. We’d like to hear from you.

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