FDP Members Reluctant To Embrace Time and Effort Reform

May 12, 2014 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

paint-horse-678535-mIn the “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink” department, a question was raised at the Federal Demonstration Partnership’s spring meeting in Washington, D.C., today that currently is proving this axiom to be correct. At least for the moment.

Under its new uniform guidance, the Office of Management and Budget sought to bring some relief to grantees in the area of time and effort by taking some of the focus on maintaining effort documentation and instead enabling awardees to establish a system of internal controls that would show they have proper oversight over employee effort (§200.430).

However, at today’s meeting of the FDP, which is a coalition of research colleges and universities and federal officials aiming to ease the burden of research grant administration, the question was posed to the 400-plus attendees as to whether they felt comfortable in dropping their current time-and-effort systems in favor of one with fewer details that is based on internal controls. Only a couple of attendees raised their hands. In essence, if the guidance became effective today instead of Dec. 26, most universities would stick to their traditional time and effort routines, thwarting OMB’s effort to relieve the burden, because they know that auditors would have more documented proof to show the institution was complying with effort requirements. Anything to prevent the dreaded audit findings.

The institutions of higher education are seeking more clarity from federal agencies as they draft their regulations adopting the uniform guidance, not only with time and effort but in other areas of the guidance as well. The guidance may not go into effect until December, but agencies must draft their regulations by June 26, with doesn’t give them much time.

It’ll be interesting to see where we stand next year at this time to see if colleges and universities feel more comfortable with the guidance. As always, stay tuned!

Let us know how you feel about the time and effort requirements in the OMB uniform guidance.

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