Don’t Confuse the Uniform Grant Guidance With the Y2K Scare

February 5, 2015 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

Y2KIt seems like yesterday, but it was actually 15 years ago. Folks in their 30s and up probably remember the panic surrounding the Y2K technology concerns. In late 1999, there were concerns that the computers at that time couldn’t distinguish between the year 2000 and the year 1900, among other glitches. This created fears that computers would malfunction, causing utilities and other crucial infrastructure to fail.

Some warnings were especially dire. “The Y2K problem is the electronic equivalent of the El Niño, and there will be nasty surprises around the globe,” former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre was quoted as saying at the time.

I remember spending that New Year’s Eve with a neighbor waiting to see what happened. As it turned out, the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1, 2000, and everything continued as normal. What a relief!

There seems to be a similar reaction in the minds of grant recipients out there concerning the uniform grant guidance. When the Office of Management and Budget issued the uniform guidance in December 2013, that began a year-long discussion among the grants community about preparing for the guidance, and spurred federal agencies to adopt their regulations to incorporate the guidance. The new requirements under the guidance were the main topic of conversation at all grants conferences and in grants-related Web chats. We all awaited federal agencies to issue their guidance on Dec. 26, 2014 – the date after which the uniform guidance applies to all new grants.

So then Dec. 26, 2014, came and went. What has really changed? For most, probably nothing … so far. Most grant recipients are still operating under their existing awards, which follow the former rules under the OMB circulars. These grantees probably heard all the talk about the uniform guidance and now may be saying to themselves, “Yeah, yeah, that was a lot of noise but let me get back to my grant program as I’m used to.”

However, unlike the Y2K concern, which didn’t really amount to much at all, the uniform guidance is now in play, and nonfederal entities that receive funding from now on will have to abide by these new rules. If you don’t know what they are by now, you could find yourself in danger of not being in compliance with requirements about which you’ve never considered. That’s why it’s important to turn to Thompson’s grants publications now more than ever. Don’t ignore this as another Y2K scare.

Has it really been 15 years????

Let us know how you have adjusted since the Dec. 26, 2014, issuance of the federal agencies incorporation of the uniform guidance in their regulations.

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