Sneak Preview: Q&A Memos Address Grantee, Agency Shutdown Questions

February 2, 2018 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xgran_bookshot(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) As Congress and the White House continue to struggle to reach a long-term budget agreement, which has already resulted in one three-day government shutdown in January, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued instructions to federal agencies related to appropriating grant funding in the event of a protracted stoppage.

The federal fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget continuing resolution (H.R. 1370) expired Jan. 19 without Congress enacting a signed appropriation measure or continuing resolution. After a three-day government shutdown, Republicans and Democrats in Congress on Jan. 22 agreed to a short-term fix, reopening the federal government until Feb. 8, at which time Congress must pass legislation to address the budget issue again or face another shutdown. Such uncertainty in future funding has left numerous federal programs in peril, and because award recipients — as well as agency program managers — have many questions going forward, OMB on Jan. 19 issued guidance to inform them about what to expect in the case of an extended lapse in appropriations.

The memo addressed numerous governmental topics potentially affected by a long-term shutdown, along with a discussion about the impact on grants and contracts. The memo addressed potential agency and grantee concerns in a question-and-answer (Q&A) format.

One question discussed whether a federal agency, when appropriations have lapsed, may incur a new obligation for a grant or extend a grant, by exercising a renewal option when the funding for that obligation would be included in the lapsed appropriation. OMB said agencies could not incur such obligations except in very limited circumstances. These circumstances are when:

  • a statute expressly authorizes an agency to obligate funds in advance of appropriations;
  • the funds address emergency circumstances, such that the suspension of the funds would imminently threaten the safety of human life or the protection of property;
  • the funds are necessary to the discharge of the president’s constitutional duties and powers; or
  • the agency must continue the funding, in the absence of appropriations, because its continuation is “necessarily implied” from the continuation of other authorized activities.

“In these limited circumstances, an agency may incur the obligation, … but the agency cannot pay the [recipient] until appropriations are enacted,” OMB added.

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time on Thompson’s Grants Compliance Expert site.)

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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