Looking Back at Our Grants Predictions for 2017

December 20, 2017 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

20172016As we now enter the holiday season, this provides us a great opportunity to look back at the previous year pertaining to grants. Last December, we came out with a blog post discussing what we expected to be some of the biggest things to look for in 2017. Let’s take a look at that list again to see what we said at the time and how those predictions fared:

Prediction No. 1: Office of Management and Budget (OMB) proposed rule

What we said last December: Although we were expecting so see this proposed rule last fall, it has been delayed for several weeks now. Since the release of the uniform guidance in December 2013, several recent pieces of legislation have emerged that have necessitated some adjustments to language in the uniform guidance. These include the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) (Pub. L. 113-101), Grants Oversight and New Efficiency Act (Pub. L. 114-117), Never Contract with the Enemy Act, and the National Defense Authorization Act. The proposal also would implement consistent use of certain terms throughout Title 2 of the C.F.R., and seek to provide more clarity in the areas of grants procurement and subrecipient monitoring.

December 2017 update: Although OMB officials recently announced that they anticipate revisions to the uniform guidance to address the provisions of these legislative actions, they still could not say when they would be forthcoming.

Prediction No. 2: Revised Frequently Asked Questions to the uniform guidance

What we said last December: We continue to wait for OMB and the Council on Federal Assistance Reform (COFAR) to issue it. The current document, which has about 100 questions and answers, has not been updated since September 2015. OMB officials have said that the revised document will contain 20 new questions, many of which pertain to indirect costs and the new 10 percent de minimis indirect cost rate.

December 2017 update: OMB and the now-disbanded COFAR finally released an update of the Frequently Asked Questions in August 2017, with 24 new questions and four revised questions.

Prediction No 3: Incoming Trump administration

What we said last December: The effects on the grants community as a new presidential administration comes on board is currently still up in the air. However, there certainly will be change, and some current grant programs could be on the chopping block. Some experts anticipate that the federal government will need more revenues to cover the projected growth in mandatory spending, especially as more baby boomers file for social security, and that the Trump administration may also consider tax reform, spending cuts to discretionary programs and potentially implementing a federal government hiring freeze.

December 2017 update: The Trump administration called for sweeping changes to the federal agency structure in his proposed federal fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget. Under the proposal, 19 federal agencies would have been eliminated and many others would have suffered spending cuts. Only three agencies would have seen budget increases — the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Homeland Security. Trump also issued a temporary freeze on the issuance of federal regulations that had yet to be finalized to allow agencies to review them. Further, Trump issued a reform plan called the “Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government and Reducing the Federal Civilian Workforce,” which aimed to make the federal government more effective and accountable through streamlining the performance of government workers.

Prediction No. 4: DATA Act

What we said last December: Federal agencies are required to begin reporting spending data in accordance with the act by May 2017 and to publicly post spending data in machine-readable formats by May 2018. The agencies are still making preparations for this deadline and some agencies continue to struggle. Recipients of federal awards should be aware of the actions federal agencies are taking to comply with the DATA Act, as the DATA Act requires federal agencies to apply the governmentwide data standards to all grant recipients and contractor reporting by August 2018. Nonfederal entities also should investigate if their technology systems need any upgrades to ensure that they can produce data in consistent, open and machine-readable formats.

December 2017 update: Federal agencies began reporting spending data as required in May 2017. The Department of the Treasury released a new version of the USAspending.gov site, beta.USAspending.gov, in accordance with the act’s requirements that linked spending data to awards distributed by the government. In addition, OMB and Treasury in August issued a report to Congress required by the act on the Section 5 pilot program, which ran from May 2015 to May 2017.

Prediction No. 5: Procurement grace period ending

What we said last December: Many research institutions are still following their procurement practices under the former OMB circulars, and are assessing the impact of the uniform guidance procurement provisions. Under the joint interim final rule in which OMB and 26 federal awarding agencies and offices adopted the uniform guidance into their regulations, OMB provided a procurement grace period of one fiscal year, specifically for nonprofit organizations, hospitals and institutions of higher education (IHEs), all of which previously followed Circular A-110 (§200.110). Through correcting amendments to the uniform guidance issued later in September 2015, OMB extended the grace period to two fiscal years.

December 2017 update: In May 2017, OMB issued a correcting amendment to extend the grace period for one more year, noting that this would be the final extension of the procurement grace period. Therefore, if a nonfederal entity has a June 30 fiscal year end, for example, the grace period has been extended from June 30, 2017, to June 30, 2018. After that point, this grace period ends and all awardees will be required to follow the procurement provisions in the uniform guidance for awards received after Dec. 26, 2014.

Prediction No. 6: The Workspace requirement

What we said last December: Applicants for federal awards using Grants.gov have less than one more year remaining until they must prepare and submit their proposals and accompanying documents using Grants.gov’s Workspace portal, if they have not already done so. In December 2017, Grants.gov will phase out the legacy application package option most applicants now use when submitting proposals to the federal website.

December 2017 update: Grants.gov currently allows organizations to either download the traditional application package or use Workspace, but the former option will no longer be available as of Jan. 1, 2018.

Let us know what you predict will occur in 2018. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

As a reminder, we have all of our Federal Funding Training Forums scheduled for 2018. Please let me know if you have questions or can make any of these. We hope to see you there!

  • Wednesday Feb 7 – Friday Feb 9 in PHOENIX


  • Wednesday May 1 – Friday May 4 in ST LOUIS


  • Wednesday July 25 – Friday July 27 in MINNEAPOLIS


  • Wednesday October 17 – Friday October 19 in ATLANTA




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