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    Subject Term: "Grant award procedures"

    3 publications with a total of 10 open recommendations
    Director: Allison B. Bawden
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve transparency in the grant merit-review process, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior should direct the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue written guidance to require all competitive grant programs to clarify in the public notice of funding opportunity all review criteria, including cost sharing factors as relevant, and their related scores to be used to make final award decisions.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, Interior had updated its notice of funding opportunity template for competitive grant programs to clarify that the review process must ensure that applications are scored and selected based on announced criteria. In addition, competitive grant programs must establish a written merit review plan that details the merit review factors and sub-factors and the rating system and evaluation standards which explain the scoring basis. Furthermore, the Fish and Wildlife Service is developing new guidance to ensure discretionary grant programs include all required elements to be completed in December of 2017.
    Recommendation: To reduce the risk of duplicative and overlapping funding at the grant award level, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior should direct the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue written guidance that ensures their grant management staff review grant applications for potential duplication and overlap before awarding their competitive grants and cooperative agreements.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Fish and Wildlife Service issued guidance to ensure grant applications are reviewed for potential overlap and duplication, as GAO recommended in January 2017, but as of August 2017 the National Park Service had yet to issue such guidance. In August 2017, the Department of Interior (Interior) provided documentation showing that the Fish and Wildlife Service now requires discretionary grant applicants to provide a statement that addresses whether there is any overlap or duplication of proposed projects or activities to be funded by the grant. Fish and Wildlife also updated its guidance to grant awarding offices instructing them to perform a potential overlap and duplication review of all selected applicants prior to award. Interior said the National Park Service had yet to issue guidance on duplication and overlap review, but it would provide the guidance to GAO when it is finalized and implemented. Completing these improvements will help the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service reduce the risk of unnecessary or inadvertent overlap or duplication in grant funding.
    Recommendation: To reduce the risk of duplicative and overlapping funding at the grant award level, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Food and Nutrition Service to issue written guidance that ensures its grant management staff review grant applications for potential duplication and overlap before awarding competitive grants and cooperative agreements.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, the Department of Agriculture (Agriculture) said the Food and Nutrition Service was developing written guidance that will ensure its grants management staff identify grant programs for potential duplication and overlap with other federal agencies before awarding competitive grants and cooperative agreements, as GAO recommended in January 2017. Agriculture officials said the guidance would be based on input from grants management staff, relevant Food and Nutrition program officials, and reviews of similar guidance already in place at other Agriculture sub-agencies. The Food and Nutrition Service plans to issue this guidance by the end of federal fiscal year 2017 for use beginning in fiscal year 2018. Issuing and implementing this guidance will reduce the risk of unnecessary or inadvertent overlap or duplication in grant funding.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct the Office of Grants and Debarment (OGD) and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to incorporate expanded search capability features, such as keyword searches, into its proposed web-based portal for collecting and accessing performance reports to improve their accessibility.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its 60 day response, EPA reiterated its agreement with this recommendation. EPA also stated that its vision for grants management includes having grant recipients submit performance reports and other information to the agency through a web-based portal. The portal would incorporate capabilities such as key word searches to allow for easier access to performance report information. However, the portal is a long-term initiative, subject to the agency's budget process, and dependent on the completion of the Next Generation Grants System, which the EPA expects to fully deploy in Fiscal Year 2018.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to identify grant programs where existing program-specific data reporting can meet EPA's performance reporting requirements for grants management purposes to reduce duplicative reporting by grantees.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its 60 day response, EPA reiterated its general agreement with this recommendation and stated it will work with recipient partners to identify where duplicative reporting can be reduced. However, EPA also noted that program-specific data cannot be relied upon to meet all grants management requirements, and performance reports often contain other information that allows Project Officers to monitor a recipient's progress. Further, EPA will need to consider the feasibility of expanding Project Officer access to certain program databases to enhance grant performance monitoring. EPA anticipates completing the process for identifying where duplicative reporting can be reduced by the end of FY 2017.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, once EPA's new performance system is in place, to ensure that the Office of Water adopts software tools, as appropriate, to electronically transfer relevant data on program results from program-specific databases to EPA's national performance system.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its 60 day response, the EPA reiterated its general agreement with this recommendation and stated that it will apply it, where appropriate and cost effective, to program-specific databases, not only the Office of Water databases. EPA noted that not all data from program-specific databases may be appropriate for direct electronic transfer to the national performance system; some individual grant data may need to be analyzed before being rolled up into national data. Additionally, implementation of this recommendation will depend upon the agency's program offices modifying their databases to interface with the new performance system. Further, implementation of this recommendation is dependent upon completion of EPA's new performance system, currently under development; anticipated deployment is in FY 2017.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to clarify the factors project officers should consider when determining whether performance reports are consistent with EPA's environmental results directive.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its 60 day response, EPA reiterated its agreement with this recommendation and stated that it will make conforming changes to the implementation guidance for the Environmental Results Order (Directive) in FY 2017.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to expand aspects of EPA's policy for certain categorical grants, specifically, the call for an explicit reference to the planned results in grantees' work plans and their projected time frames for completion, to all grants.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its 60 day response, EPA reiterated its agreement with this recommendation and stated that it will make conforming changes to existing policy in FY 2017.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to incorporate built-in data quality controls for performance reports into the planned web-based portal based on EPA's environmental results directive.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its 60 day response, EPA reiterated its general agreement with this recommendation. However, EPA emphasized that identifying and deploying appropriate data quality controls is a long-term effort subject to budgetary considerations, completion of the Next Generation Grants System, and extensive collaboration with internal and external stakeholders. Specifically, the report's vision for built-in data quality controls involves the use of electronic templates and reduced reliance on manual data entry--which would require standardized work plan and performance report formats subject to clearance by the Office of Management and Budget. Further, EPA noted that both grant recipients and EPA program offices generally have not supported standardizing the format of work plan and progress reports in the past. Accordingly, as a first step, EPA will seek feedback from the recipient and program office community. The agency will initiate that process in FY 2017.
    Director: Wise, David J
    Phone: (202)512-5731

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve FTA's ability to determine the extent to which transit grants, current formula incentives, and FTA program activities have had a positive effect on local transit agency performance--and to the extent that FTA finds current data sources to be appropriate and reliable for such purposes-- the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FTA Administrator to further analyze and use data submitted to FTA by local transit agencies. As part of this analysis, FTA may want to identify and evaluate, when applicable, (1) the extent to which transit grant programs are accomplishing their established goals; (2) the areas of performance in which FTA should concentrate its program activities to increase the performance of local transit agencies and the federal transit program in general; and (3) the extent to which formula incentives and other performance accountability mechanisms have influenced the activities and performance of local transit agencies.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, FTA had published the final National Safety Plan and a final rule on state of good repair for transit assets. However, the final Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan rule is under additional review per the transition in administration. FTA does not expect publication until the end of this calendar year at the earliest. We will continue to monitor DOT actions pertaining to this rulemaking.