Sneak Preview: Evaluating Risk Criteria Aids Monitoring Efforts

June 10, 2014 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xgran_bookshot(The following was excerpted from an article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) Many federal grantor agencies and nonfederal pass-through entities are finding that limited resources are hindering effective monitoring efforts. The Office of Justice Programs within the Department of Justice is using data that compares recipient risk to help identify which ones it should prioritize for monitoring visits.

OJP Program Analyst Lara Allen told attendees at the recent National Grants Management Association annual training meeting that the agency began using a risk-based approach to monitoring in 2009 in order to focus on grantees that pose the greatest risk. It currently assesses 32 risk criteria, although Allen said that the agency continues to evaluate the criteria quarterly based on audits and other program reviews. Using these factors, the agency is able to determine a score for a recipient, categorized as either low, medium or high.

The Office of Management and Budget’s uniform grant guidance now requires all federal agencies to evaluate the risk of their grantees, and to assign special conditions on grant awards if moderate-risk grantees are being considered for funding. Post-award monitoring will need to address any triggers that may place a recipient on a moderate- or high-risk grantee list. OJP’s tested strategies can serve as best practices related to risk assessments required for all agencies under the uniform guidance.

“We looked at trends across a number of years to determine what grantee risks created the most significant concerns,” Allen explained. Among the criteria it reviews include award dollar value, compliance with reporting requirements, programmatic implementation concerns, whether the grant program is new and whether the grantee had funds withheld from a current or previous grant. It also assesses its existing list of 32 high-risk grantees, which consist of grantees with serious single audit concerns and new grantees. Other information is factored into the risk assessment, including grantees with delinquent financial and progress reports, those that have sought multiple project period extensions and those with unresolved issues for an extended period of time.

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