2006 Annual Priorities Report: Grants Management
Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.
View the Updated Region 10 Environmental Strategy
EPA should spend tax money to achieve the greatest return on our investment - environmental results. We cannot afford to fund activities or organizations that do not show results. Our work in this priority area will focus on improved competition in award of grants as well as compliance review and monitoring of grant outputs and products. EPA and our partners must be able to demonstrate to management and more importantly, to the public, that we wisely spend each tax dollar.
Description of the Challenge…
Why is it a priority?
EPA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) identified several deficient areas in the management of our financial assistance programs. These deficiencies include: lack of grant competition, poor oversight of grantee procurement, failure to identify and achieve environmental results, and EPA’s weak oversight controls. Similar criticisms have been voiced by the General Accounting Office (GAO) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB). In response, EPA has taken steps to strengthen management oversight of its financial assistance programs. Why is grants management a ‘big deal’ in Region 10? Over half of EPA’s budget is awarded to state, local, Tribal, educational and nonprofit partners. In Region 10, financial assistance to our partners in fiscal year 2005 was just under $330 million, which accounts for 65% of our annual budget.
Strategy and Approach…
How do we anticipate achieving our desired goals and objectives?
Region 10 will continue to provide training for all new Project Officers and managers of Project Officers. Each quarter, Region 10 will provide Post-Award Monitoring training. Training is mandatory for all Project Officers.
Many grants are awarded to state, local, and Tribal governments to support their ongoing programs to meet federal requirements. Competition for these grant monies may not be appropriate since EPA relies on state, local, and Tribal governments to carry out their legal obligations. Achievement of environmental outcomes for these grants will entail greater oversight and ultimately, may entail reducing future grant awards or withholding of grant money for nonperformance.
Information technology will be used to speed administrative processing of grant application, award, and payment. Region 10 will provide training to project officers in The Integrated Grants Management System (IGMS). This system is used to process grantawards and amendments, as well as post-award compliance monitoring. IGMS can also provide information on grant projects to Congress and the public. We anticipate the expansion of system capabilities to receive and respond to electronic applications via “Grants.gov.” Region 10 will pilot “online” application procedures for financial assistance application and award processing.
Region 10 will emphasize oversight and compliance. By identifying grantees having difficulties in achieving and maintaining compliance with agreement terms and conditions and/ or the regulations governing the management of assistance agreement funds, we can provide the assistance needed to bring the grantee into compliance.
When recipients are not responsive, remain in non-compliance, and when post-award monitoring fails, Region 10 can limit its financial liabilities and take appropriate enforcement action.
We will ensure that continuity between post-award monitoring and compliance enforcement will receive greater emphasis than in the past. Region 10 will expedite close-out of expired grant agreements. Timely close-out will speed return of unexpended grant funds to program budgets for future projects.
The Region 10 Grants Management Officer has presented a Consolidated Post-Award Monitoring Plan to the Office of Grants and Debarment (OGD).
The goals of this plan fall into two categories:
|Goals and Objectives… |
What are the desired long-term outcomes?
Region 10 is committed to ensure that its grant programs meet the highest management and fiduciary responsibilities and further the Agency’s mission of protecting human health and the environment.
Region 10 embraces EPA’s national goals identified in the 2003-2006 National Grants Management Plan:
- Enhance the skills of EPA personnel involved in grants management,
- Promote competition in the award of grants,
- Leverage technology to improve program performance,
- Strengthen EPA oversight of grants,
- Identify and achieve environmental outcomes.
Post Grant Monitoring Activities by year
Who else is working in this area?
The work is primarily within EPA Region 10. It will involve the Grants Management Office as lead with program office support throughout the Region. The results of this work, however, will be felt throughout the Region’s state, local, and Tribal governments as well as the educational, non-profit, and for-profit organizations that receive financial assistance from EPA.
Measures of Success…
How will we know we have achieved success?
Success will be measured by the number of timely close outs. We plan to reduce the number of grants open past the 90-day deadline. In addition, we will reduce the number of A-133 audits referred for action by the OIG. The number of problems divulged by Advanced Post-Award Monitoring reviews will be reduced and the response time for follow-up by EPA staff and resolution by the grantee will be shortened.
Environmental Indicators: Each program office will be required to establish criteria for reporting environmental results. The measure of success will be the establishment of concrete environmental results for each financial assistance agreement and documented achievement of those results.
- All active assistance agreements will be monitored for basic compliance with terms and conditions,
- Advanced Post-Award Monitoring (APAM) of a minimum 10% of the baseline monitoring assistance agreements. APAM provides greater scrutiny of performance and involves either a detailed telephone interview or on-site review.