Posts Tagged ‘Recovery Act’
Log in next week (Oct. 17-24) to join an online conversation discussing ways to prevent fraud and abuse in federally funded Recovery Act programs. This week-long public dialog is sponsored by the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board and the National Academy of Public Administration.
While the scope of this discussion will focus primarily on oversight of Recovery Act funds, the sponsors are also interested in ideas related to the oversight of other federal spending that might be applicable to Recovery Act dollars.
Some of the questions to be addressed include:
The board and the academy encourage a variety of participants from the general public, state and local governments, the private sector, the nonprofit field, and academia. For more information, visit the dialog’s page on Facebook or go to http://www.fedaccountabilitydialogue.org.
In a recent memo, the Office of Management and Budget told federal agencies to send out the remaining Recovery Act funds as quickly and efficiently as possible — or they could be returned to the federal treasury in two years.
OMB said ”there remain billions in discretionary Recovery Act funds that, although they have been obligated, have not yet been outlayed. In light of the current economic situation and the need for further economic stimulus, it is critical that agencies spend these remaining funds as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
In fact, if those funds have not been spent by September 30, 2013, agencies will reclaim them.
Agencies should work with grant recipients, OMB said, to accelerate the spending rate for all awarded funds while still achieving core programmatic objectives. Agencies are encouraged to reduce administrative hurdles that can delay expenditure of funds, as well as decrease delays between the receipt of invoices and the outlay of funds.
Federal agencies can request waivers from the 2013 deadline in cases where contractual commitments by the grantee with vendors or subrecipients prevent adjusting the timeline or where project completion may not be possible (such as in large transportation projects).
To accomplish this accelerated pace, agencies will be amending current grant award agreements and adding these deadline requirements to new grant agreements.
OMB memo M-11-34 is available here.
It seems it is not a matter of whether, but when, the federal government will impose new reporting requirements on recipients of federal financial assistance. On the same day, President Obama issued a new executive order on the matter while a key member of Congress introduced legislation that could have a drastic impact on grants management.
Both the executive order and the legislation have the ultimate goals of increasing transparency (read increasing reporting) and reducing waste. And both are based largely on the lessons learned through the Recovery Act. So the impetus for the changes in transparency, accountability, and reporting is strong. The only questions that remain are how to reach those goals.
Obama’s initiative, which is being spearheaded by Vice President Biden, creates a new Government Accountability and Transparency Board to “provide strategic direction for enhancing the transparency of federal spending and advance efforts to detect and remediate fraud, waste, and abuse.”
Obama’s order goes to say that the board will “apply the approaches developed by the [Recovery Act Board] across government spending.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, introduced the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, or DATA Act. His legislation would also create a permanent governmentwide accountability board, and would go further.
The DATA Act would require the new accountability board to establish common identifiers and consistent reporting standards for all federally collected data. It would also require all recipients of federal grants, contracts, and loans to report on their receipt and use of federal funds at least quarterly. Compliance would be a condition of receiving funds. And agencies could impose penalties of up to $250,000 on those that don’t report. (Does this mean OMB would need to amend the administrative requirements in Circular A-102 and 2 CFR 215?)
Finally, the legislation would repeal the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act.
I’ve been looking at the recently released 2011 A-133 Compliance Supplement and found several items of interest (at least to me) that I thought I would pass along.
OMB added a a new element to the core compliance requirements to alert auditors and program officials as to whether the reporting requirements of the Transparency Act apply to a particular program. The compliance supplement also explains that, at the current time, “this reporting at the program level may be “Not Applicable” for several different reasons: (1) there are no subawards under the program; (2) the program is exempt from this requirement because it is ARRA-funded; or (3) the program is other than a grant or cooperative agreement program. In the latter case, this designation may change once additional types of financial assistance are made subject to the Transparency Act’s reporting requirements.”
Also, when determining compliance with Recovery Act reporting requirements, auditors are only required to test for compliance with basic information such as the CFDA number and financial information such as expenditures. While the number of jobs created or retained is a required data element for Recovery Act reporting, OMB specifically says that the auditor is not required to test this data.
Feel free to post to our blog with anything else you may find of interest in the new Compliance Supplement.
Finally, the Office of Management and Budget has released the 2011 Circular A-133 audit guidance document.
As usual, new programs have been added, other programs have been deleted, and individual program descriptions have been updated. In addition, OMB has added guidance and references relating to Transparency Act reporting, and clarified reporting requirements and auditors’ responsibilities relating to Recovery Act funding.
Watch this blog for additional information in the future. In the meantime, go here to view or download the Compliance Supplement.
In another new memo promoting open government, OMB offers details of how the fast-approaching Transparency Act subaward reporting process will work and the related responsibilities of federal agencies, prime grantees, and subgrantees.
For example, in any new awards issued as of October 1 2010, federal agencies must include a new award term that delineates the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA) subaward reporting requirements.
Prime grantees will be required to register in two systems to meet the act’s subaward reporting requirements: the Central Contractor Registration, and the FFATA Subaward Reporting System (FSRS). (FSRS was set up as the portal for Transparency Act subcontract reporting and is now being used to also report subgrants.)
The memo also clarifies that subawardees are not required to do the actual reporting; that is the prime recipient’s responsibility. However, the subawardee is required to provide the prime with all of the information needed.
Further, entities that are already reporting this information for Recovery Act grants through FederalReporting.gov will not be required to duplicate that reporting in FSRS.
These are just a few examples of the information included in the memo. You can view and download the entire 51-page guidance here.
The 2010 A-133 Compliance Supplement is now available on the OMB website. As usual, changes have been throughout the guidance to reflect new statutory and regulatory requirements, and to make technical and clarifying revisions. But perhaps the most important change, at least for this year, is the information on the Recovery Act and its impact on single audits.
The Recovery Act discussion is found in Appendix VII, which is called a rather vaguely named ”Other OMB Circular A-133 Advisories.” The guidance addresses the impact of these new funds on the SEFA, major program determination, and risk assessment.
I’ll post more information once I have looked through the supplement, but for now, I just wanted to alert everyone to the release.
Well, it’s been a while since I posted to this blog, so this one will make up for the lack of frequency in the amount of volume.
I attended the Association of Government Accountants Professional Development Conference earlier this week and want to share a summary of some of the sessions I attended. My notes are fairly basic and lack some context, so if you need more info, please feel free to contact me directly (email@example.com), or post to the blog.
Here we go…
Grants Management Line of Business
Danny Werfel, Controller of OMB’s Office of Federal Financial Management, discussed the agency’s view of lines of business. While he was specifically speaking about financial management systems, the overall principles he discussed also may be applicable to the Grants Management Line of Business (GMLoB). OMB still believes in the concept, but has learned that the model of forcing agencies to move to a complete service center doesn’t work. Instead they are looking to focus more on “shared services.” For example, an agency may share a vendor invoicing service with other agencies but would not have to migrate their entire financial system to a common source.
Federal Grants Reporting
The implementation of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act’s subrecipient reporting requirements in October means a lot of things need to be changed, such as grant terms and conditions, according to Werfel. He said OMB is working on these changes, but gave no details on exactly what actions will be taken or when.
He also specifically noted one of the most significant and pervasive Recovery Act reporting problems: subsequent reports from the same recipient on the same project often don’t get “linked.” For instance, a change in identifying information, such as a correction to a DUNS number or grant number, means reports are not connected to one another. Anyone looking at a particular entity or project might assume a recipient just stopped reporting on the project, and that another project was started. Werfel emphasized that federal agencies, recipients, and pass-through entities need to be aware of this.
Recovery Act A-133 Pilot Demonstration Project
OMB plans a second A-133 Recovery Act pilot project that will be announced later this month (July). It will include more states, and probably different programs this time, according to John Fisher, of the HHS Office of Inspector General, and a lead in the implementation of the first pilot project. The second pilot is also likely to focus more on audit resolution. The Recovery Act requires federal entities to make management decisions on the findings that were reported in the pilot project within 3 months (March 31, 2010). But a significant number of the findings still had not been resolved as of July 8, he commented. (It’s important to note that slow and incomplete audit resolution by federal agencies came up in almost every grants session, and several presenters, including Danny Werfel, said OMB and Congress will be taking a close look at this issue.)
On a side note, Gil Tran was supposed to make this presentation but was not at the conference because he was still working on the A-133 Compliance Supplement, which was supposed to be out “this week,” meaning July 15 or16. One interesting tidbit: Gil has to get sign-off from 19 different federal officials before he can release the supplement.
Reducing Improper Payments
Werfel said one of the most promising and interesting ideas they are looking at to reduce improper payments is revising A-87 (2 CFR Part 225. the state and local cost principles) to allow states to recapture more indirect costs. This incentive would reward states that reduce improper payments by allowing them to keep more for administrative expenses and offset the costs of program administration. OMB is seriously looking at how A-133 audits can be used more effectively in preventing, rather than simply detecting, improper payments. This could mean anything from speeding up the audit timeline to focusing more on larger entities or larger grant programs. However, he gave no specifics on A-133 revisions.
Werfel also told attendees that in the fall, OMB plans to launch a grant program to support innovative streamlining and grants management partnership projects. The goal is to promote efficiency while improving program services and is based on ideas submitted to Partner4Solutions.gov.
Yellow Book Update
The Government Accountability Office is drafting a revised Yellow Book and expects that draft to be ready for public comment in late July or early August, with the final revision complete by February or March 2011. But those are moving targets because GAO is attempting to align the Yellow Book with AICPA standards, which are still in the process of being revised.
Most of the changes that auditors will see are technical in nature or align Yellow Book requirements with other standards. But one area that will change is the standard for auditor independence. Marcia Buchanan, Assistant Director for Auditing Standards at GAO, said Chapter 3, on auditor independence, will be restructured. There will be a conceptual framework that will serve as a guideline for determining whether an auditor is independent, but there will no longer be a laundry list of prohibited activities. This will give auditors more flexibility and allow them to apply judgment in unique situations.
The Office of Management and Budget has issued yet even more guidance aimed at stepping up recipient reporting under the Recovery Act. And this time, the memo directs federal agencies to take very specific steps to enforce compliance.
Memo 10-17, issued May 4, details five specific steps awarding agencies must take and sets specific deadlines for doing so. Nothing in the memo is especially new, but the fact that OMB included deadlines for agency actions is noteworthy. In summary, federal agencies must notify their recipients of the reporting requirements, contact and report on those entities that don’t comply, enhance oversight for persistently noncompliant grantees, and enforce compliance through all means available to them.
If you want to read the details of the memo, click here.
Recipients of Recovery Act funds that have not filed the required reports detailing their use of funds and their programs’ progress may soon find themselves facing severe consequences – including the loss of funds, suspension and debarment, and even punitive actions.
In a new memo, President Obama directs federal agencies to “further intensify their efforts” to improve reporting compliance and to report the identities of noncompliant entities.
While the vast majority of recipients filed reports, the White House estimates that prime recipients failed to file more than 1,000 required reports covering an array of Recovery Act programs.
The president called on OMB to review the current guidance regarding reporting compliance and to issue even more guidance, if necessary.