Sneak Preview: HRSA Looks To Improve Grant Monitoring Procedures

November 2, 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 Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration plans to meet with its bureaus and offices annually to discuss post-award monitoring activities, best practices and the implementation of regulatory changes to improve the effectiveness of grant recipient oversight.

In a recent report, the Government Accountability Office sought to determine whether HRSA had improved its grants monitoring processes in response to weaknesses GAO found in two 2012 reports. In one report, GAO found that HRSA did not consistently follow HHS regulations and guidance in monitoring recipients of Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act grants (see “HRSA Aims To Improve Ryan White Grantee Oversight,” September 2012), while a second report found that the agency’s oversight of Health Center Program grant recipients was insufficient to determine grantee noncompliance.

Grants management oversight at HRSA is conducted by project officers in the programmatic bureaus and grants management specialists and financial integrity staff in its Office of Financial Assistance Management. The agency also supplements its staff with contractors that perform recipient monitoring activities.

HRSA has four main methods for overseeing its staff’s monitoring of grant recipients. Agency supervisors will:

  • review information in, and reports from, HRSA’s online system for documenting recipient monitoring activities, such as staff assessments of grantee compliance;
  • participate in staff interactions with recipients, such as monitoring calls;
  • regularly communicate with staff in one-on-one and other meetings; and
  • conduct annual performance appraisals to hold staff accountable for their monitoring responsibilities.

To address the weaknesses that GAO found, HRSA issued its first agencywide guidance in November 2012 for those agency officials responsible for grant monitoring. The agency also required each of the bureaus to develop more detailed guidance by the end of 2012  about standard operating procedures  for project officers. To help develop their procedures, HRSA provided a template outlining numerous components under three basic categories — communication, reviewing grantee reports and conducting site visits.

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time on Thompson’s Grants Compliance Expert site).


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