The new grant regulations are making a risk assessment of Federal award recipients a requirement for Federal agencies prior to awarding any grants.
In fact, proper documentation of your federal grant processes has become more important than ever!
One of the reasons for this is that the concept of internal controls has moved out of the Finance department and Audit Supplements and into the rest of the organization.
This means more people than ever before need to understand what goes into internal controls and how to make them effective to reduce risk and keep the grants well-managed.
So you may be thinking…NOW is the time to update or even create your first Grant Management Manual as a good first step.
Wondering what goes into a Grant Management Manual?
In this article, we’ll walk you through how to create a Grant Management Manual from scratch for your organization.
I will also cover an easy-to-implement solution to get your manual completed in record time!
The place to begin creating your documentation is to outline what things will be in your Grant Management Manual.
A Table of Contents can help you organize the topics you want to cover in your Grant Management Manual from beginning to end.
You should lay out how your Federal grants are managed from the application stage all the way to the grant closeout.
The Table of Contents can include major categories like:
- Details about Grant Office
- Glossary of Terms
- List of Federal Grant Administrative Rules
- Description of the Grant Life Cycle
The Table of Contents provides a structure for the overall framework of grant management at your organization.
Section One: Details about the Grant Office
The next step to start on the details in your Grant Management Manual is to describe the Grant Office.
You may know the Grant Office as the Office of Sponsored Agreements, or the Program Office, or the Office of Research Administration.
But no matter what you call it, this is the place where federal grant management happens with help from other departments such as Human Resources, Procurement, Legal, and Finance.
Here are some of the things you could include in this section:
- About the Office
- The <Office Name>
- Description of Grants Administration Office
- Mission, values, and goals
- Responsibilities of personnel
Finally, a Glossary of Terms is a great thing to add to clarify the unique terminology used in the administration of your federal grants.
Let’s admit it, grant management has lots of special terms and jargon.
For those new to grant management, having a place to decode the terms like MTDC, EVM can be a very welcome resource!
Section Two: Federal Grant Administration Rules
The next section is where you would list what regulations you are using to manage your grant.
Yes, grants have lots of regulations both from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and also the individual federal agencies.
For most of us, the main set of regulations comes from new grant regulations contained in 2 CFR Part 200 also known as the new Uniform Guidance.
This section should also describe what control systems you have in place to support the Federal Administrative requirements.
You would also specify things like:
- Expenditure controls, such as the federal Cost Principles in the Uniform Guidance
- How you handle audits, like the Single Audit Act audits (formerly A-133)
- Other Rules like:
- Lobbying Restrictions
- Debarment and Suspension
- Drug-Free Workplace
- Individual federal agency-specific regulations
The goal of this section is to have a comprehensive list of what rules you have to follow as a federal grant recipient.
This will also help employees new to grants have a better understanding of what is required when you receive federal funding.
In this section, you will walk through your process for grant management from searching for federal grants on sites like Grants.gov and other individual Federal agency websites to the final closeout.
You should include the basic steps in the grant lifecycle such as the application, receipt, spending, management, and closeout processes.
Here are some examples of each of those areas:
- How you apply for a grant
- What is your process for planning the grant application?
- Who are the key grant personnel?
- What are the steps to prepare grant documents?
- How do you finalize the grant application packet?
- Who are the key grant signatory authorities for a grant application?
- What is your process for submitting and tracking the application?
Receive the Grant
- Who can sign the agreement?
- How does a grant account get set-up?
- How are grant funds received from the funder?
Spend Grant Funds
This is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to Federal grant management. (And procurement procedures often get overlooked in the rush to spend the grant funds!)
You should include your procedures and processes for:
- Procurement procedures
- Contractor management
- Affirmative steps for small business, minority, and women-owned firms
- Federally-mandated procurement Contract Provisions
- Code of Standards including how to handle conflicts of interest
- Labor reporting
If you have these policies in other documents, then you would reference those documents in this section rather than duplicate all the policies and procedures.
Manage Grant Award
This next section on managing grant awards covers “the rest of the story” during grant management.
- How do you manage costs vs. budgets?
- What is your process when you need cost transfers?
- How do you handle program income?
- How is property purchased with Federal funds managed?
- What is your process for cost-sharing and matching requirements?
- How do you identify situations requiring prior approval from the Federal Awarding Agency?
- How are reports put together and when are they due?
- What responsibilities do you have for Federal oversight in grant administration?
And the list goes on and on…
Step back and think of all the frequently asked questions (FAQ) by staff members during the period of performance for your grants.
Then put guidance in the manual for the most FAQ about grant management.
This next part lays out how the Federal award is closed out.
Here are a few examples:
- What happens in the final phase of grant management?
- How long do you need to retain records?
- What special requirements are needed for access to records after the award is closed out?
You may also want to add an index to make it easy for people to find the relevant parts of your Grant Management Manual as well.
Section Four: Appendices
An appendix is the “catch-all” place for other things relevant to the management of the Federal award, that doesn’t “logically” fit in a different section.
It is a great place to add examples of forms, guides, and checklists.
Here are a few things we like to see in the Federal Grant Management Manual:
- Chart of Accounts Example
- Purchase Order Example
- Signatory Authorization Form
- Procurement Records Checklist
- Property records checklist
- Grant Closeout Checklist
- Audit Checklist
- Expenditure Request Form
- Selected Items of Cost Details
What do you think?
Has this article made the creation of your manual go smoother?
Want quicker results?
If you want a faster way to get your manual created, check out our Editable Grant Management Manual Template.
We’ve put together all the key elements in this easy-to-implement Word document.
If you don’t want to start from scratch and need results fast, this could be a great solution for you!
>>Check out the Editable Grant Management Manual Template.
Prefer to D-I-Y Your Federal Grants Management?
Check out our step-by-step guides on creating your own federal award documentation with our three articles:
- How to Create a Grant Management Manual From Scratch
- How to Create a Written Procurement Manual From Scratch
- How to Create a Financial Management Manual From Scratch
I’ve included all the things I’d put in my federal grant documentation if I was starting all over to re-invent the wheel from scratch. 🙂
Ready to Improve Your Grant Management?
How about you?
Would you like to be a better grant manager?
We have another grant management training seminar coming soon.
Click here to get all the details!
Hope to see you there!
Lucy Morgan CPA, MBA
CEO, Compliance Warrior
Author of “Decoding Grant Management-The Ultimate Success Guide to the Federal Grant Regulations in 2 CFR Part 200” The 2nd Edition is now available on Amazon in Paperback and Kindle versions.