Archive for July, 2009
In an effort to improve the transparency of Recovery Act awards, the Obama Administration is restricting lobbying efforts by potential recipients, and making any lobbying activities that do occur visible to the public.
OMB has just issued a memo to federal agencies that updates the lobbying restrictions that were imposed on Recovery Act funds. In essence, after competitive grant applications have been submitted, there can be no oral communication between federal agency officials and anyone regarding that specific project, whether or not they are registered lobbyists. The prohibition applies after the submission of formal applications , and up through the award of competitive grants under the Recovery Act.
There are a few exceptions, however. For example, federal agency officials may asnwer questions that are technical in nature, and the communication is permissible if the federal employee initiates the contact.
But if communication does take place – including written communications – the federal employee must report it and a summary will be posted on a publicly available website.
To read the full OMB memo to agencies, click here.
I’m listening to one of OMB’s Recovery Act reporting training webinars and wanted to alert everyone to an important upcoming date they just announced: on August 17, registration will open on the new FederalReporting.gov site.
All federal awarding agencies, prime recipients, and designated subrecipients must register with the system in order to submit, review, post, and correct the reports required under the Recovery Act.
Entities are encouraged to register early on FederalReporting.gov; ideally at least 45 days before the Ocotber reporting period begins.
I’ll post any additional information about the Recovery Act training webinars throughout the week.
While Grants.gov has made the grants process somewhat easier for both federal awarding agencies and potential applicants, the Government Accountability Office says the web portal has systemic problems that need to be addressed.
GAO’s report echoes many previous reports about Grants.gov. For federal agencies, the benefits of using Grants.gov include eliminating the need to develop agency-specific electronic systems and making their funding opportunities available to a wider audience. For grantees, the online search and apply portal reduces paperwork and offers access to a wider array of grant opportunities. And both benefit from faster application processing.
But a “cumbersome” registration process and “uneven” system performance often result in frustration for grantees and late applications. At the federal level, a lack of clear, written policy regarding who is responsible for what on Grants.gov, as well as the “pass-the-hat” voluntary method of funding the system often cause problems, GAO says.
In the report, GAO makes four recommendations, again, most of which may sound familiar to those in the grants world. They include for example, urging OMB to work with federal agencies to ensure that Grants.gov is properly funded, and establishing a stakeholder group to improve communications.
To read the full report, click here.
OMB has just announced the dates (July 20-23), topics, and registration information for the Recovery Act reporting webinars. The two-hour sessions are intended for federal agencies, prime recipients, and subrecipients, and will focus on major sections of the reporting guidance published on June 22.
For information or to register, go to the Recovery.gov website.
During the week of July 20, federal officials plan to conduct a series of web-based training sessions covering the recently issued Recovery Act reporting guidance (see blogs below). The sessions will be aimed at helping recipients and subrecipients understand the new reporting guidance issued June 22 and the online technologies that will be used for the reporting.
We have no information yet on when, where, or what these sessions will entail, but we wanted to give everyone a heads-up about the training.
I’ll post more information once it’s available.