OMB Controller Alert Provides Few Details About Disbanding of COFAR

July 5, 2017 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

capitoldome3Upon learning about the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) memorandum to disband the Council of Financial Assistance Reform (COFAR) last month, two questions have been on our minds — why did this happen and what are the next steps going forward? These questions were answered in brief in a “controller alert” sent to us from OMB officials this week.

First of all, what is a controller alert? We wondered this ourselves. Well, controller alerts are “designed to highlight emerging financial management issues that may require agency attention or action,” and “are intended to inform the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) community of key issues where the OMB believes further action may be warranted, but do not constitute official guidance or prescribe specific tasks for agencies beyond consideration of appropriate steps to address the issue.”

This week’s controller alert addressed the grants management-related requirements that were rescinded in OMB Memorandum M-17-26, Reducing Burden for Federal Agencies by Rescinding and Modifying OMB Memoranda, published on June 15, 2017. (Subscribers to Thompson’s grant publications can go to to read a full article about the memorandum.)

One of the notable actions under the memorandum was to disband COFAR, which was created in 2011 to provide recommendations to OMB on policies and actions to effectively deliver financial assistance, which culminated in the creation of the uniform guidance. The controller alert states that “with the completion of [COFAR’s] designated purpose, moving forward, financial assistance priorities will be coordinated by the Chief Financial Officers Council (CFOC), consistent with the goal of involving a broader community of financial assistance agencies to participate in developing future priorities.” In addition, “future groups may be formed around certain topics as necessary.”

That’s pretty much the extent of the information OMB will provide on financial management oversight. The alert goes on to discuss other CFOC actions. These include the development of the Financial Assistance Management Career Roadmap and a Federal Grants Management 101 course.

The Financial Assistance Management Career Roadmap is available on the CFOC website. An interactive tool is being developed that includes competencies and behavioral indicators that managers and staff will be able to select for any program or support position, regardless of job series. The roadmap will also be mapped to existing training resources to address agency need for inexpensive and quality workforce development.

In addition, the Federal Grants Management 101 (Grants 101) course, Modules 1-5, is now available at The course was developed to address the lack of affordable and widely accessible training on basic grants workforce competencies. The OMB Office of Federal Financial Management worked closely with subject matter experts to incorporate agency best practices and enhance the course with practical grants management application. The five modules are: Module 1 — Laws, Regulations, and Guidance; Module 2 — Financial Assistance Mechanisms; Module 3 — Uniform Guidance Administrative Requirements; Module 4 — Cost Principles; and Module 5 — Risk Management and Single Audit.

We’ll continue to let you know if we learn of more actions from OMB or CFOC. Stay tuned!

Tell us about your reaction to the disbanding of COFAR. We’d like to hear from you.


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