Federal Grants – Money for Nothing? Think Again!

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Eileen R Youens

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Did your local government receive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grants? Or Community Development Block Grants? Or do you ever use other federal grants to pay for goods and services? If your answer to any of these questions is “yes” or “I don’t know,” read on! Although no two grants seem to have the same requirements, there is a set of regulations called the Grants Management Common Rule (the “GMCR”) that applies to almost all federal grants (including ARRA grants and CDBG grants), and if you don’t comply with the GMCR, you risk losing your grant funding. So what is the GMCR and where can you learn more about it?

I’ve blogged about the GMCR before here, here, and here. Here’s a quick recap: the GMCR is a set of regulations (including procurement regulations) that applies to all entities that receive federal grant money. The GMCR is found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), which is a compilation of rules adopted by federal agencies.  Each federal agency has its own section of the Code, and the GMCR has been codified, in exactly the same form (that is, word for word), in each agency’s section of the Code.  For example, for the Department of Transportation, the GMCR is found in 49 C.F.R. Part 18, and for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, it’s found in 24 C.F.R. Part 85.  (These two links take a while to load, so please be patient.) You can find a table that shows where each agency has adopted the GMCR here.  (Note that the link to the Code of Federal Regulations on this page is broken.  You can find the Code of Federal Regulations online here.)

I’ve put together two documents that I hope will help North Carolina local governments to understand and follow the Grants Management Common Rule. The first document is an outline of the key portions of the GMCR that relate to procurement and disposal of property. The second document is a quick guide listing 14 key steps that local governments should take to be in compliance with the GMCR. I hope that you’ll take a moment to review these documents, and let me know if you have any questions. Good luck with your grants!

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