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Highlights

In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed federal management of discretionary assistance programs, specifically the policies and practices agency officials use to decide which eligible applicants receive awards and how much they receive.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget 1. The Director, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), through the President's Council on Management Improvement (PCMI), should work with federal agencies to require written justification reviewable by high-level agency officials for grant award practices that restrict widespread solicitation of all eligible applicants, and that do not use at least some independent officials outside the program office to review applications.
Closed - Implemented
The PCMI "Discretionary Grants" publication did not directly adopt the recommendation. However, the publication advised agencies to use multiple solicitations. No options were given to the agencies to restrict solicitation. With regard to non-use of independent reviews, special procedures were advised during the decision making process to refer decisionmaking to a higher authority.
Office of Management and Budget 2. The Director, OMB, through PCMI, should work with federal agencies to require program managers to provide written justification for award decisions that deviate from reviewers' recommendations.
Closed - Implemented
The PCMI "Discretionary Grants" publication implements the recommendation as stated.
Office of Management and Budget 3. The Director, OMB, through PCMI, should work with federal agencies to require approval, at a level higher than the program managers, for funding unsolicited applications.
Closed - Implemented
The PCMI "Discretionary Grants" publication implements the recommendation as stated.
Office of Management and Budget 4. The Director, OMB, through PCMI, should recognize the discretionary grant award process as a potentially vulnerable area for review under the Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act (FMFIA).
Closed - Implemented
The PCMI "Discretionary Grants" publication implements the recommendation as stated.

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