Federal Grants Reform – The Story Continues

One thing I’m constantly asked is, “what’s new with grants?” For those who follow Federal grants constantly, the turn of the past year has seemed slow. But part of the reason it seems slow is that we’re still recovering from the implementation of 2 CFR 200.

Think about it. If you were around in February 2013, you were probably following which clauses of which circular were going where into the “new” Uniform Guidance. If you lived through that change, everything else may seem like it’s on the edges. And maybe not even reform. But anything that makes managing Federal grants better fits in line with nearly 20 years of reform efforts.

That said, the Federal grants community is constantly working on ways to improve processes, performance, and reporting – all with the goal of understanding what impact financial assistance has on our communities and our country. Last month, Shane highlighted a few things to anticipate in 2018. Now that we’re really into the year, I have a few more items in the spirit of reform.

  • Grants.gov / Workspace Implementation. For those of you actively applying for grants at the moment (or waiting for the CR to end so you can), you’re feeling the effects of using the new Workspace on Grants.gov. And hopefully it’s good. Consider it a step of reform that there’s a back end system to help you with your forms and more people have access to collaboration tools without having to buy software packages.
  • GREAT Act Introduction. First there were the Recovery Act changes (almost 10 years ago!). Next the DATA Act. The next step is the Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency Act of 2018. Let’s all be thankful that improving the availability and management of grants data continues to be a bipartisan issue.
  • Performance.gov Revamp. My colleague Anna Mauldin just posted a great overview of the changes to Performance.gov. As expected – they’re significant and in line with the policy priorities of the Trump Administration. But the underlying premise of reporting performance has largely stayed the same. If you plan on applying for a Federal grant anytime during the next few years, review these policy priorities. The Administration’s overarching performance goals should trickle into Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFO) going forward.

Of course, all of these reform steps mean that we’ve been looking at how we can share information with you in the classroom. In some cases that has meant completely revamping the content…as in the case of Applying for Federal Grants & Cooperative Agreements. For others, it means adding more virtual class options so you can access the knowledge you need without hitting the road.


Tip: Micro-purchase Thresholds in the FAR. There were changes in the 2018 NDAA. It’s going to take a bit of time for the FAR to be updated accordingly. Once that does happen, 2 CFR 200 will adjust automatically. In the meantime, make sure your procurement policies are in line with the current $3,500 level.

Written by:
Erica Preston
Grants & Assistance
Media Type:

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