Regulatory Freeze Has Grants Community in Holding Pattern

May 16, 2017 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

airplane-1480118I’m not exactly sure how many times I’ve said it over the last few months when talking with colleagues both at my office or out covering conferences and other events. Reporting on federal government action, or as it seems more recently, inaction on grant-related developments is akin to being an airplane stuck in a continuous holding pattern.

The biggest culprit is the Trump administration’s executive order freezing the passage of any new regulation until the government can reassess their effectiveness. Some agencies have even extended the original deadline date for reviewing these regulations. Providing information to our subscribers on federal agency issuances, including proposed rules and new final rules, has traditionally been, and will always be, one of the most-useful assets of our services. Once these reviews are finally complete, we intend to keep you abreast of what rulemaking will go forth and what pending rules, if any, are rejected.

Perhaps the most important piece of rulemaking to the grants community that is stuck in this holding pattern is a proposed rule that was set to be issued last fall by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). It would have made various changes to the uniform guidance in light of recent legislative actions. One of the most critical aspects of the proposal for research universities was that it would have potentially extended the two-year procurement grace period allowed under the uniform guidance (§200.110)(a). However, this proposal was pushed back as part of the regulatory freeze, and we continue to wait for any action on it from OMB. (Editor’s note: We’ve just learned that OMB will issue a rule in tomorrow’s Federal Register to extend the procurement grace period.) Along with this action, OMB had planned to update its Frequently Asked Questions pertaining to the uniform guidance, which was last updated in September 2015. Still, we continue to wait on the release of this document as well.

If these delays are creating angst among those of us covering federal agency regulations, I can only imagine how frustrated the grants community must be, especially as they attempt to make plans for future funding to continue carrying out their programs. It’s time for this regulatory freeze to come to an end. We’re tired of waiting. Let the planes land.

Let us know your reaction to the regulatory freeze and if you too are ready for it to come to an end.


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