Sneak Preview: EPA Aiming To Reduce Reporting Duplication

September 2, 2016 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xgran_bookshot(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Federal Grant Management Handbook.) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials plan to determine by the end of federal fiscal year (FY) 2017 how to reduce instances where award recipients are submitting duplicate performance information to the agency, according to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

EPA regulations at 2 C.F.R. §1500.1 require recipients of EPA awards to submit performance reports to the agency as specified in their award agreements at least annually and typically no more frequently than quarterly. EPA’s regulations, as well as §200.301 of the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB’s) uniform guidance, also require that EPA provide awardees with clear performance goals, indicators and milestones, and should establish reporting frequency and content that allow EPA to build evidence for program and performance decisions.

Although the agency monitors performance reports and program-specific data submitted by awardees to ensure that grants achieve intended results, certain agency practices hinder EPA’s ability to efficiently monitor some results and may increase recipient administrative burden, GAO found. It said that EPA collects some information from awardees twice — in written performance reports and in an electronic program-specific database (which gathers data at agreed-upon intervals on program results and accomplishments) — and this content often overlaps. After reviewing performance reports for 23 grant programs, GAO found that awardees provided similar information in a program-specific database for 12 of the programs. For five grant programs, many performance reports has “substantial overlap” with a program-specific database.

For example, under the State Hazardous Waste Management Program, EPA requires grant recipients to include information on permitting, compliance, enforcement and corrective action activities and accomplishments in their performance reports, although they had already reported this information electronically in a program-specific database. Agency officials told GAO that collecting information both in written reports and electronically is “beneficial” because it serves different purposes, as project officers use performance reports to monitor program progress, and program managers use a program-specific database to obtain the information they need for monitoring.

However, duplication in reporting has increased administrative burden for some EPA grant recipients, GAO said. “The duplication of efforts can increase administrative costs and reduce the funds available for other priorities,” GAO explained. “By identifying grant programs where existing program-specific data reporting requirements can meet EPA’s performance reporting requirements for grants management purposes, the agency can help reduce duplicative reporting for grantees in a manner consistent with EPA’s ongoing streamlining efforts.”

(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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