Sneak Preview: EDA Acts To Improve Selection Documentation

March 20, 2014 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xgran_bookshot(The following was excerpted from an article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) The Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, in response to Government Accountability Office recommendations, plans to update its grant procedures and operations manuals to clearly denote proper documentation that agency officials should complete when selecting proposed grant projects.

In a recent report, GAO explained that EDA has a history of inconsistently documenting the results of its Investment Review Committee meetings — in which proposed projects are discussed and recommended for funding. As far back as 2000, a DOC Office of Inspector General report found inconsistencies in the way EDA’s regional offices documented the review process and recommended at that time that EDA keep better documentation of actions by these committees.

More recently, GAO’s reviews of EDA projects in fiscal years 2007 and 2011 found continued inconsistencies with EDA regional offices and the quality of their documented results of the IRC meetings. For example, while some documents provided limited information on the proposed project and a small discussion on the number of jobs the project would generate, other documents provided detailed information, including the positive and negative aspects of the project and the reasons for funding decisions.

To address these inconsistencies, EDA in FY 2012 implemented a new procedure that requires its regional offices to complete a standard template to document the results of IRC meetings. The template calls for district offices to report the benefits and risks of each proposed project; environmental/legal issues, if any; the project’s fit with the agency’s investment priorities; notes on the proposed number of jobs expected to be created; and recommendations for further action.

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