All nationally-funded programs have corresponding legislation to protect and regulate said funds. Every year billions of government dollars are allocated to grant programs for the public good. Many of these grants help propel research and development of products and ideas that can help solve some of the world’s toughest problems.
While this is a wonderful opportunity for those who need funding, it is not as many believe “free money” to be used at the awardee’s sole discretion. There are legislations in place that dictate how these funds must be used. Early on, this was the case. In fact, before the 1970s few federal grant policies existed. They began to become more stringent as word got out that federal agencies were using these awards to pay for services and bypass the competition and procurement rules necessary for performing legitimate government contracting. The table below demonstrates the various stages of implementing a new policy in the last few years.
Some important areas legislation has addressed includes reporting procedures, lobbying efforts, cross-agency data-sharing, transparency, and auditing requirements. These legislations help hold all awardees accountable to the same regulations. They also allow the public to see what was done with these government dollars. Legislations determine what reports grantees must produce, when, and where to publish them. The legislation also determines how funds can be used. There are specific determinations of what costs are allowable and which are not. For instance, while some travel and lodging is an allowable cost, coffee and pizza to provide at staff conferences is not.
Legislation varies from country to country and state to state, however, there are a few nationwide legislation that has passed to protect government dollars. The links below will connect you to more information about some of the most common or most recent federal grant legislation.
- Office of Management and Budget Uniform Guidance (2014)
- DATA Act (2014)
- Executive Order 13576 (2011)
- American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (2009)
- Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (2006)
- Public Law 106-107 (1999)
- Single Audit Act Amendments of 1996
- Lobbying Disclosure Act (1995)
- Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act (1977)
It is always a good policy to learn about the rules surrounding government dollars before being awarded any. Be sure to explore resources to learn about state, local, federal and individual funder requirements for how government dollars must be spent and how the spending of such dollars must be reported. In the eyes of policymakers, ignorance is no excuse for non-compliance with funding codes of conduct, federal or private. It is the responsibility of the awardee to learn the regulations surrounding the government dollars they have been allocated.
Grant professionals, evaluators, and consultants should be well versed in these matters and the truly professional ones are. Knowledgeable consultants help protect their clients by understanding the legislation surrounding government dollars. They know what payment amounts are acceptable as well as what mandatory reporting requirements to adhere to. An unethical or unknowledgeable consultant could spell disaster for a client if they do not know and understand these protocols. We like many other industry professionals take professional development and client protection very seriously. We stay in the know about changing legislation and accounting practices. Make sure your grant professional, evaluator or consultant is doing the same.
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