Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Watching The Fiscal Origins of Federal Funding

U.S. Federal grant announcements may be confusing if you are new searching for grants. Here are the hints to help you. Nonprofit organizations need to know the fiscal sources of grants for renewals, for accountability and transparency and to avoid commingling of funds. .

The Federal agencies and departments label grant opportunities by funding year (FY) to help applicants understand the responsibility and obligations.That funding year generally begins October 1 in that year.

There are a few grant opportunities that will feature "FY2008". This means that the grant opportunity is from the Fiscal Year 2008 Congressional budget, either recovered or unexpended funds. There are not many of these anymore.

The next group is labeled "FY2009" They are still common. This refers to funding that Congress approved in Fiscal Year 2009.This may be a continuing funding the government has made for a number of years such as homeless, drug addiction, HIV/AIDS, legal services, Head Start and many other. It may also be one-time or new grants funding that year.

The new piece is from the Recovery Act, ARRA. The Federal Government is labeling the source as such, "ARRA" or "Recovery Act" funding to distinguish it from the annual funding year that may seem similar in some instances..There are parallel grants, one labled FY2009 and the other ARRA.

There is much talk about new legislation in 2009 for volunteerism. That could be under its own title, under ARRA or FY 2009, if passed by Congress. Simply be aware of its designation if approved.

Congress is working on the FY 2010 budget set for October 1, 2009. That will be labled "FY 2010" to differentiate it from any new grants under ARRA and prior years.

So look for the source of funds before applying.

Here is language from a new grant opportunity in FY2009 from Homeland Security for fire and emergency departments round the U.S.

"The Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) remains largely unchanged from the previous year’s program based upon input from members of America’s fire services and other stakeholders. However, in FY 2009, they will shift the focus on the level of response provided in emergency medical services (EMS) from basic life support (BLS) to advanced life support (ALS). They will add “candidate physical agility assessments” as a high priority under the Wellness and Fitness Activities.

Through audits conducted by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) and through the Assistance to Firefighters Program Office grant monitoring, it has become apparent that some Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) recipients have not adhered, or are not totally adhering, to the proper procurement requirements when spending grant funds. Anything less than full compliance with Federal procurement policies jeopardizes the integrity of the grant as well as the grant program. As such, in FY 2009 they will place a greater emphasis on oversight of grantees’ procurement actions.

All procurement transactions shall be conducted in a manner that provides, to the maximum extent practical, open and free competition. Grantees are expected to promote competition and ensure advantageous pricing by soliciting bids from multiple vendors. Purchases shall be made from the vendor whose bid is responsive to the solicitation and is most advantageous to the grantee when price, quality, and other factors are considered. Grantees may use their own procurement procedures, which reflect applicable State and local laws and regulations, provided that the procurements conform to applicable Federal laws and standards. Grantees who fail to adhere to their own procurement policy, or otherwise fail to fully “compete” any purchase involving Federal funds, may find that their expenditures will be questioned and subsequently disallowed.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provided $210 million in funding to DHS to construct new fire stations or modify existing fire stations. That funding opportunity will be announced in the near future and will NOT be part of this offering. Under the funding opportunity presented in this guidance, the AFG will only fund projects that do not alter the footprint or the profile of an existing structure. Projects for modifications that involve altering the footprint or the profile of an existing structure or projects that involve construction of new facilities will fall under a different funding opportunity. Interested parties should monitor http://www.recovery.gov/ for updated information on this and other first responder funding opportunities."

Be aware of the funding time and the regulations and contract requirements that go along with them.

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