Federal Grants in 2016 – Pulse Check
We’ve reached that point in the year when we start thinking about next year’s Federal Grants Update (FGU) course. This process starts with reviewing our FGU 2016 comments and looking at the ways we have already updated the content of this course. Here’s what stands out to me right now:
- Still getting to know 2 CFR 200. As expected, our students have a wide range of familiarity with the Uniform Guidance, resulting in a wide range of comments. Whether you and your organization have fully implemented 2 CFR 200, or you’re just now beginning to tackle this challenge, you can benefit from a refresher on the requirements. Know that we’re tracking 2 CFR 200 every day, and will update our FGU instructors when something changes.
- FAPIIS – you can do it. A few students have noted how the FAPIIS section of the course has helped them wrap their head’s around how to navigate this requirement. We recognize that many of you have heard about the risk of debarment and suspension with regard to the FAPIIS and other disclosure requirements under 2 CFR 200. So it’s great to hear that our presentation of FAPIIS as a manageable requirement resonates with you.
- Transparency reforms may seem cloudy. This is a bit of a strange year for the Federal grants community. First, we’re hard at work putting the policies and internal controls in place to comply with the transparency requirements in 2 CFR 200. Conflict of Interest Policy? Check. Performance measurement tying to budget and cost data? Working on it. First 2 CFR 200 Single Audit? Monitoring the clearinghouse on the submission deadlines.Then there’s that thing called the DATA Act looming in the background. This is something that continues to frustrate those of us who understand that it’s coming, but wonder what to do now. That makes it cloudy – and necessary to continue to track the progress and outcomes of the Section 5 pilot.
So what’s next (in my opinion)?
First, I’m going to take a look with Shane at the pending legislation at Congress. If you are tracking DATA Act implementation, you may have noticed that there are active bills that go beyond the DATA Act. We’ll add these into our course materials accordingly. Keep in mind that efforts to increase transparency on the use of Federal funds are bipartisan, and have a chance at passing. In particular, keep an eye out for the Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary Government Data Act (OPEN Act). This bill would codify Executive Order 13642, Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information and could potentially prevent the Federal government’s use of the DUNS Number.
Second, I’m going to watch for the Supreme Court decision on the potential for the False Claims Act to apply to almost every bill and invoice submitted by a government contractor. The decision in Universal Health Services, Inc. v. Escobar has the potential to increase the scrutiny of all payments made by the government. This case shines the light on the need for all recipients of Federal funds (grant or contract) to ensure they have the internal controls in place for all the terms, conditions, and regulations – like for personnel in this case.
Speaking of internal controls, the 2016 Single Audit Compliance Supplement is coming out soon. I’ve heard from some experts that the internal controls section will likely be similar to the 2015 supplement. That could mean that auditors will receive the guidance once again to follow the GAO Green Book and COSO requirements. Or maybe OMB will surprise us.
Finally, we need to stop and take a look at the GONE Act again. The GAO released another report (with infographic) on unused Federal grant dollars. The GONE Act directs Federal agencies to report on the status of unclosed grants at the award level by December 2017. Considering that some agencies have 10,000+ awards that need to go through a closeout process, we need to start working on this now.
That’s my take. Be sure to share yours in the comment section below or in one of our class evaluations.