Posts Tagged ‘accountability’
The following was just posted on the OMB blog. Since it is rather succinct and complete, I thought it best to just copy and paste it. So here is what OMB is doing…
How can we continue to streamline, simplify, and improve rules and regulations? Which rules should be eliminated, streamlined, or made more effective? How can we reduce reporting and paperwork burdens? What are the best ways to cut regulatory costs? We’re looking for your ideas.
In January 2011, the President directed all executive agencies to undertake an unprecedented government-wide review of regulations on the books, in order to figure out what is working and what is not, and where appropriate, to streamline or eliminate ineffective, overly burdensome, and outdated rules. Over two dozen agencies responded with regulatory reform plans, listing more than 800 initiatives. We are already seeing big results. Just a small fraction of those initiatives, already finalized or formally proposed to the public, will save more than $10 billion over the next five years. Far more savings are expected as the plans are implemented and improved.
This May, the President made regulatory reform a continuing responsibility of all executive agencies and departments. All agencies must engage with the public to obtain suggestions about which regulations should be reassessed, modified, improved, streamlined, or eliminated. All agencies must give priority to reforms that would produce significant quantifiable savings or big reductions in paperwork and reporting burdens. And all agencies must report regularly to the public on their progress.
The next reports are due fairly soon – this fall. To improve our review, and to make it as ambitious as possible, we are announcing, today, an opportunity for members of the public to offer their ideas. Which rules are outdated? Which ones are imposing unjustified costs? Which ones can be improved or made more effective? Submit your ideas at WhiteHouse.gov/Advise. They will be given careful consideration.
Earlier this year there was a flurry of activity and far-ranging discussion surrounding a new DATA Act, legislation that would impose strict new reporting requirements on federal agencies and grant recipients.
But what happened to that proposed measure?
Apparently, it has died in the Senate.
During a Sunday morning talk show, Rep. Darrell Issa, the bill’s primary sponsor in the House, was discussing the Republican agenda when he said “we want to be jobs and the economy,” Issa said. “The Data Act passed unanimously out of the House, and it’s died in the Senate. That would bring greater transparency and accountability and save money. We have those issues we’re working on.”
If the measure does see any action in the Senate, we’ll let you know.
Looking for some advice on how to design a collaborative network? The IBM Center for The Business of Government just published a new report that highlights the successes and challenges of users who have implemented cross-agency collaborative networks.
In the introduction to the report, the authors say: Government agencies face increasing internal and external pressure to share information and to communicate across agency boundaries. Multiple-organization collaborative initiatives are far more complex and difficult than technology-based projects developed for use by a single agency. Collaboration requires a shared technology infrastructure that knits together legacy information systems of each partnering organization. Even more challenging is the need to design new approaches to organizing, funding, governing, sharing data, security, and operations.
The recommendations in the report are fairly straightforward. For example, they recommend involving all stakeholders. But they also go on to give pointers about how to do that.
You can access the report here.
Nearly $800 million in undisbursed federal funds remained in expired grant accounts at the end of fiscal year 2011, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. And while some agencies have taken steps to reduce that amount and speed the grant closeout process, more work needs to be done.
In a May 2012 follow-up to a 2008 report, GAO repeated its basic recommendation: OMB needs to establish governmentwide guidance for grant closeout.
In the 2012 report, GAO noted that while the total amount of undisbursed funds in FY 11 essentially equaled the amount reported in its previous study, the percentage of total grant funding that those funds represented was lower – meaning that agencies were doing a better job of getting rid of those unobligated monies and closing accounts.
For example, in February 2011, HHS established an interagency workgroup—the Accelerated Closeout Team—led by the Office of Grants and Acquisition Policy and Accountability to coordinate a departmentwide response in strengthening financial controls and accelerating the number of grant and contract closeouts.
“Our analysis shows that there has been an improvement in closing out expired grant accounts with undisbursed balances in PMS since our 2008 report,” GAO said in the report. Nevertheless, GAO continues “The presence of tens of thousands of expired grant accounts in PMS with no undisbursed funds remaining raises concerns that these accounts are not receiving sufficient attention. Reducing the number of accounts with zero balances remaining would help ensure that administrative and financial closeout—the final point of accountability for these grants—is being completed. It would also minimize the amount agencies pay in potential fees for maintaining these accounts, which can accumulate over time.”
If you are interested in learning about effective grant closeout, Management Concepts’ two-day Closeout of Grants for Federal Personnel will be helpful. This course provides students with a framework and actionable process for overseeing and conducting grant closeouts. Visit www.managementconcepts.com/grants for more information.
With the buzzwords “accountability” and “transparency” cited over and over, the House yesterday approved the DATA Act, a measure that would impose strict new reporting requirements on federal agencies and grant recipients.
Recipients would have to report at least quarterly on receipt and use of federal funds. Similarly, federal agencies would have to report at least quarterly on all obligations and expenditures of federal funds. The Treasury Department would also report federal agency obligations and expenditures, and all of this information would be identified by program, budget category, or other Treasury account number so that it could all be easily compared.
An interesting provision in this legislation is that it would not waive the reporting requirements for entities that receive small awards; only certain individuals would be exempt.
The House also attempted to put some teeth behind the measure by allowing federal agencies to impose penalties of up to $250,000 on recipients who fail to meet the reporting requirements. To enforce agency reporting, OMB would be directed to issue guidance requiring compliance with the new act.
The Data Accountability and Transparency Act (HR 2146) would also create a new oversight panel, the Federal Accountability and Spending Transparency Commission. This commission would have extensive power. For example, it would establish reporting deadlines, specify the data elements and the format of reports, and issue guidance to federal agencies and recipients on compliance with the new law.
Also, rather than repealing the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, as was originally proposed in the House bill, the measure that members approved yesterday would amend that legislation by aligning it with the new reporting and transferring control over FFATA reporting and USAspending.gov from OMB to the new council.
A companion measure was introduced in the Senate earlier this year, but is still awaiting action in the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
Federal awarding officials now have a new tool to help them confirm individual and entity eligibility before making any grant, loan, contract, or benefit payment. Launched today, the new Do Not Pay List web site is a single point of entry for accessing relevant data.
The portal allows federal agencies to to access data sources including the Death Master File, the Excluded Parties List System, Treasury’s Debt Check Database, and the List of Excluded Individuals and Entities. The site also offers data analysis of information from other sources that are not currently available through the portal, such as prison information and several privately available sources.
OMB Memo 12-11 directs federal agencies to submit to OMB a draft of the agency’s plan for using this new tool by June 30, 2012. OMB will review those plans and agencies will finalize them no later than Aug. 31,2012.
I picked up some very interesting information about the DATA Act at last week’s NGP webcast.
According to Cornelia Chebinou (NGP co-chair and the director of NASACT’s Washington, DC office) The legislation that will eventually be debated on the full House floor will be significantly different than the measure that came out of the House committee. The House is using a “manager’s amendment” to make significant changes to the bill. There were few details on what the changes would be, but one thing that was mentioned was the fact that the bill will no longer repeal FFATA.
Also, bill sponsor Rep. Darrell Issa asked Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor to bring it to House floor as soon as possible once the amendment is done. The Senate has said it won’t act on the bill until it sees what comes out of the House.
So we might have a case of wait, wait, wait, and then some very swift action.
Just as a reminder, the DATA Act in its current form would require all recipients of grants, loans and contracts (with some exceptions for small-dollar recipients), as well as federal agencies to provide transaction information about those awards at least quarterly. A new Federal Accountability and Spending Transparency Board would set the standards for the data and would compile, analyze and publish the information.
We’ve just posted information about our annual Federal Grants Update course to the Management Concepts web site. This one-day seminar is a great way to keep track of the latest developments in grants management and to learn about pending changes that may impact your day-to-day grants work.
This year we’ll be discussing OMB’s plans for consolidating and revising the grants management circulars, new grants oversight boards, A-133 audits, suspension and debarment, and much more.
Classes start the first week in April and run throughout the summer in cities around the country. We can also bring the course to your location. Visit the web page here for additional information about the topics that will be covered, locations and dates, and registration information. And if you have any other questions, feel free to contact me.
There has been a lot of talk in Congress about grants accountability, but mostly in the realm of post-award administration. Now comes a bill that addresses those topics before an award is made. HR 3433, the s-called GRANT Act, would call for some rather dramatic shifts in the way discretionary grants are awarded.
For example, federal agencies would have to establish and publish merit-based selection criteria. And before an award is made, agencies would have to evaluate whether the applicant is capable of properly managing federal awards and successfully completing the project. This seems fairly noncontroversial to me and aligns with current OMB circulars and administrative requirements.
But the legislation would make all of the preaward information available to the public — everything from the applicant’s proposal to the award notice and the final award decision and applicant rankings.
Further, agencies would post each recipient’s final report on a public website, along with any other information that could be useful to “future researchers or the public.”
As for A-133 single audits, the proposed legislation would require OMB to report on how the process could be made more useful and efficient, something OMB has been working on for years.
This legislation, which you can read here, is just now beginning to make its way through Congress, but I thought some of the above points are very interesting and show lawmakers’ continued interest in grants. Do you see anything else in the bill that you find interesting?
The Office of Management and Budget has just created a new Council on Financial Assistance Reform to ”foster more efficient and effective federal financial management.”
The council will work with the Government Accountability and Transparency Board and federal agencies to:
- coordinate the development and implementation of a standardized business process, data standards, and IT
- work with key stakeholders to eliminate unnecessary regulatory, reporting, and grant agreement requirements and increase flexibilities for satisfying grant requirements;
- identify emerging issues in grants management and policy; and
- serve as a clearinghouse of information on innovations and best practices in grants management.
The council replaces the Grants Policy Committee which was established in 1999 and the Grants Executive Board which was established 2004.
I’ll keep you posted on any new developments and council actions as they occur.