OMB to resolve governance issues with grant initiatives

OMB to resolve governance issues with grant initiatives

On the heels of a critical assessment of federal grants management, the Office of Management and Budget is trying to fix governance issues in the Grants Line of Business Consolidation project.

John Sindelar, project executive for the Lines of Business Consolidation initiatives, said earlier this week that an interagency task force met Tuesday to solve some of the issues surrounding the Line of Business. Sindelar, who spoke about cross-agency services at a panel discussion in Washington sponsored by the Association for Federal Information Resources Management, would not comment further on the meeting.

The meeting happened the day after the Government Accountability Office released its report detailing the confusing coordination among the Quicksilver project, the Line of Business effort and the administration’s strategy for fulfilling the Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act of 1999, Public Law 106-107.

Auditors said, “uncertainty about the roles of various implementation groups appears to have hampered progress.”

GAO said OMB will form a Grants Governance Committee to oversee the three program management offices of the initiatives. But auditors warned of possible overlap among the three programs.

“Clearer governance is needed to ensure that each group understands its roles and coordinates with the others to prevent overlap and collaborate on common initiatives,” auditors said.

Under P.L. 106-107, OMB directed the Health and Human Services Department to work with the grantee community to streamline the administrative requirements and improve coordination with federal agencies. Congress instructed agencies to implement a common application and reporting system. The act sunsets in 2007.’s development of the find-and-apply function for grants met one part of the law’s requirements, but the reporting system still is unresolved. Recently Rebecca Spitzgo, the project’s program manager, said the team is considering developing an awardee database where agencies would input information on who won, when and for how much.

GAO also stressed the need for continued involvement of the grant community in all three efforts. Auditors lauded’s project team for its consistent work with the grantee community, but criticized the P.L. 106-107 working groups for not communicating well.

GAO recommended that OMB:

  • Ensure the groups have clear goals

  • Ensure that annual progress reports to Congress as required by P.L. 106-107 include how agencies are meeting their goals

  • Ensure that the working groups develop a common grant-reporting system by the November 2007 deadline

  • Integrate the strategy for addressing the law among the Grants LOB, and the working groups led by HHS

  • Solicit grantee input on an ongoing basis

Clay Johnson, OMB’s deputy director for management, said in a letter to GAO that the administration agreed with many of the auditor’s findings. He said OMB is doing a number of things, including establishing a new grants committee under the Chief Financial Officer’s Council “to ensure consistent policies among the initiatives.”

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