HOW TO EAT AN ELEPHANT? TRY GRANTS MANAGEMENT IN THE SAME “BITE-SIZED” PIECES
You’ve received a Federal grant, or maybe you are trying to get one.
You’ve never worked with Federal awards before, or perhaps you’ve been doing it for years, but received no formal training, or just want to make sure you are following the “rules.”
Whichever is your situation, we hope that these video lessons will provide valuable information to help you manage the requirements of your Federal grant in “easy to digest” portions.
We’ve even condensed the major points in a downloadable one page: “Quick Reference Guide” or “QRG.”
Let’s get started!
Grant Overview Video Lesson.
Length: Approx. 5 minutes
Grant Management Basics: Grant Overview
We’ll start our overview of the grant process by looking at the term “grant.”
- A “grant” is a form of financial assistance that supports a public purpose.
- A grant must be in the form of money or property in lieu of money.
The term “grant” could be used to describe both grants and other types of agreements such as Cooperative Agreements and are made by the Federal government to an eligible recipient.
What is Not a Grant?
It is important to understand what a grant is – and therefore subject to the Federal grants management regulations contained in 2 CFR Part 200 and what a grant is not – and therefore doesn’t have the long list of hoops to jump through.
Perhaps the “grant” terminology will make more sense when we look at what a grant is not.
- A grant is not technical assistance, which is a service, and doesn’t contain a financial assistance component.
- A grant is not a loan, loan guarantee, subsidy, or form of insurance.
- For the purposes of the Federal grants management regulations, a grant would not include direct payments to individuals.
(This may be confusing as the term “grant” is also commonly used to describe individual grants, such as Pell grants to students.)
Finally a grant is not a contract administered under procurement laws and regulations.
How do Federal Funds Turn into Grants?
The grant cycle starts each year with the US Congress passing laws which make Federal funds for grants and other types of spending available once the Federal budget is approved.
The budget process enables Federal grants to become available in three primary steps:
- First, the Congress appropriates budget funds.
- Next, the agencies obtain the budget and review their needs.
- And finally, the agencies solicit and award funding to accomplish their projects through Federal grants and other types of agreements.
What is the Grant Cycle?
Now let’s look at the grant cycle of life.
Once Federal funds become available, the agency will post the grant information on sites such as Grants.gov.
As grant applications are received, they are evaluated in some of the following ways:
- The grant application is screened to verify completion.
- The applicant may go through various reviews to test for technical merit, business controls and other potential issues such as conflicts of interest.
- The cost proposal will be reviewed and verified.
You’ve Got the Grant, Now What?
When a grant proposal has been funded, the grant recipient will receive a Notice of the award.
The notice will alert the grantee that an award has been made, and that funds may be available.
The notice will also contain such items as:
- The terms and conditions of the award
- An account number for the grant
- The period of performance to accomplish the work
- The dollar amount of the award
The grant will also require regular Financial Status Reports or “FSR’s” to report expenditures.
Significant variances to the original agreement must be reported and explained.
Grant Life Cycle
Now let’s look at some of the things that happen during the life cycle of the grant.
- Progress reports and other types of required reporting need to be managed through the life of the program.
Sometimes a grant recipient may need to extend the time period of the grant from one time period to the next.
This may be done through a request for carryover or an application for continuation.
Grant recipients should discuss the need for extensions with their agency representatives well in advance of the end of the grant.
Finally, “closeout” is the term used to describe the completion of the funding process.
Extensions may be requested for “cost” which includes additional funds or “no-cost” which involves a time extension without additional funds.
Extensions generally require agency approval.
A supplemental application may be used when additional funds are requested for the purpose of:
- Expanding scope on a new or competitive award
- Or administrative increases for increased costs or scope
So the grant life cycle can be summed up as a process that includes:
- The application process
- Notification of funding to the award recipient
- A period of performance to manage the grant, which may include extensions and other exceptions to the original grant
- Finally, the grant closeout
The life cycle requires quality real-time documentation and reporting to effectively manage Federal funds.
P.S. Here’s even more free information.
Don’t miss your own very cool, one page “Quick Reference Guide: Grant Overview.”
(Just click on the link to download the .pdf file.)
Want to find out even more?
You can find out more about the Administrative Requirements and Cost Principles Requirements in the 12 modules in our Grant Management Boot Camp