COFAR Launches New FAQ Section on Grants Reform

February 14, 2014 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

question-icon-1147668-mGot a question about the Office of Management and Budget’s new grants reform guidance? You’re probably not the only one. We have many ourselves. Now there’s a place to go. To help clarify some of the confusion related to the guidance, the Council on Financial Assistance Reform has developed a new Frequently Asked Questions section on the guidance. Although it announced Thursday that it had posted the FAQ on its website, it was unavailable as of noon Friday (perhaps due to the snow that shut down D.C. government offices on Thursday).

COFAR said that as of mid-February, it had received more than 200 questions and comments from grantor agencies, grant recipients and other grants management and oversight officials nationwide. The initial FAQ is not very long, addressing only 26 questions over 10 pages. However, COFAR planned to provide additional FAQ releases when federal agencies submit their implementing regulations. Stakeholders can still submit their questions and comments to COFAR at cofar@omb.eop.gov.

The FAQ is divided into five sections — purpose and background, effective date, administrative requirements, cost principles and audit requirements. The first section includes many questions and answers related to why OMB initiated the grant reform process, what the expected impacts of the reforms will be and the reasoning as to why COFAR reached some of the policy recommendations that it did.

The effective date section clarifies when the guidance goes into effect, how the effective date will affect current grant programs and when single audits will be affected by the guidance. For example, COFAR states that the guidance will apply to nonfederal entities for awards or funding increments after the Dec. 26, 2014, effective date. It will not retroactively change the terms and conditions for funds a nonfederal entity has already received. COFAR added that it anticipates nonfederal entities with both old and new awards would amend their entitywide policies (e.g., payroll or procurement systems) and that such changes would affect existing/older awards. Nonfederal entities that want to implement entitywide system changes to comply with the uniform guidance after the Dec. 26, 2014, effective date will not be penalized for doing so.

There is only a handful of questions in the other sections. More needs to be included in those sections to really help grantor agencies and grant recipients understand what the new guidance means and how to comply with it. I look forward to seeing future iterations of the FAQ to see what new questions will be added.

Let us know what questions you would like to have answered in the new guidance. We can forward them to COFAR for you.

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