Sneak Preview: USDA Details Exceptions to Award Competition

April 30, 2015 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xgran_bookshot(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) While the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) generally promotes competition when it awards discretionary grants and cooperative agreements, the agency may allow noncompetitive awards in certain circumstances under its regulations adopting the uniform grant guidance.

USDA added parts 400, 415, 416, 418 and 422 to Title 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) and removed Parts 3015, 3016, 3018, 3019, 3022 and 3052 from Title 7 of the C.F.R. Part 400, as stated in §400.1, adopts the uniform guidance as USDA policies and procedures for uniform administrative requirements, cost principles and audit requirements for federal awards. The other parts address general program administrative regulations (Part 415); general program administrative regulations for grants and cooperative agreements to state and local governments (Part 416); new restrictions on lobbying (Part 418); and research institutions conducting USDA-funded extramural research — research misconduct (Part 422).

The agency also updated numerous other parts of Title 7 of the C.F.R. to reflect the changes in regulation citations. The updated regulations apply to new USDA grant awards issued after Dec. 26, 2014.

There are two particular provisions in these regulations, one related to award competition and the other addressing procurement, where USDA received OMB approval for exceptions to the uniform guidance.

USDA’s rules for competition when its awarding agencies issue discretionary grants and cooperative agreements are found in §415.1. It states that solicitations inviting applications must be announced through publications such as the Federal Register, an OMB-designated governmentwide website as described in §200.203 of the uniform guidance, professional trade journals, agency or program handbooks, the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) or any other appropriate means of solicitation. USDA awarding agencies are advised to consider the broadest dissemination of project solicitations in order to reach the highest number of potential applicants.

(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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