March 01, 2012

Feds Ask for Comments on Proposed Reforms to Grant Policies

For the past year, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and federal agencies have been working with stakeholders to develop ideas for reforming federal grantmaking processes to improve the accountability and performance of federal grants, while reducing administrative burden for grant recipients. This effort is in response to Presidential directive to strengthen accountability for taxpayer dollars and reduce unnecessary regulatory and administrative burdens.

On February 28, OMB published a Federal Register notice requesting comments on a collection of ideas for potential reforms to OMB circulars, including A-21, A-133, and A-110. The list includes ideas that would standardize information collection across agencies, adopt a risk-based model for single audits, and provide new administrative approaches for determining and monitoring fund allocation.

Based on feedback, OMB plans to develop a set of proposed amendments to publish for public comment later this year. OMB is also considering implementing reforms through the development of one integrated set of guidelines issued as one consolidated circular, with limited variations by type of entity.

Additional key proposed reforms include:

  • For indirect (“facilities and administrative”) costs, using flat rates instead of negotiated rates
  • Exploring alternatives to time-and-effort reporting requirements for salaries and wages
  • Charging directly allocable administrative support as a direct cost
  • Including the cost of certain computing devices as allowable direct cost supplies
  • Requiring agencies to provide 90-day notice of funding opportunities
  • Providing a standard format for announcements of funding opportunities
Comments are due by March 29, 2012, and may be submitted to

March 23 update: OMB has extended the comment period to April 30, 2012.