Sneak Preview: Addressing Compliance Now Reduces Headaches

July 19, 2013 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xgran_bookshot(The following was excerpted from an article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) Taking a soft approach to grants compliance thinking that it will “just happen,” can land recipients in hot water down the line. Proactively implementing systems and procedures, albeit potentially difficult at first, can help alleviate problems in the future, Jerry Bertrand, senior grants officer at OneStar Foundation recently told attendees at the National Grants Management Association’s annual training conference.

“Unless you begin that process of executing [changes towards compliance], you’re just dreaming,” Bertrand said. “You have to invest your resources differently and in a better way. You may feel like you’re understaffed and don’t have the time to take a step back and determine what you want to achieve, but the cost to do that upfront is way less than the negative ramifications of noncompliance. The thought basically is to pay now or pay much more down the road.”

Grantees not only must be compliant with laws, regulations, Office of Management and Budget circulars, and grant terms and conditions, but they also must establish policies and procedures for effective internal controls and ways to handle internal and external changes that affect the organization. Bertrand offered that compliance is not just a one-time exercise, but instead must be a continuous effort that requires a team-based approach across the grantee organization.

Bertrand suggested that grantees should ultimately seek to achieve continuous compliance with all requirements, resulting in allowable activities, practices and expenditures, through a proactive, efficient and thorough approach that meets applicable grant requirements and is fully integrated throughout the organization. “Sometimes you just need a 1 percent shift” to be compliant, he added. “Sometimes a small adjustment in your practice can really change the course of things, and over time, it will offer you huge improvements. It doesn’t take much, but it takes a decision to take action.”

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