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Your federal, state, or privately sourced grants can come with a lot of strings. Follow these tips to help you maintain compliance and keep your grants on track.

Regulations

Achieve Compliance With Proper Grant Management

  • Rebecca Field
  • 9/14/2016

As the federal government, state agencies, and other grant awarding entities are continuing to change and add more robust grant compliance requirements, it is becoming increasingly difficult to know whether a grant funding opportunity is the right one for your organization — or whether you will be able to properly manage your existing grant funds. These steps can help you assess whether you are set up to maintain compliance for your current grants, or if you are prepared to pursue a new opportunity.

Grant compliance checklist

Effective grant compliance relies on having an in-depth understanding of your grant requirements, and the resources and personnel you need to meet them. With the heightened standards of oversight set forth under the Uniform Guidance (formerly referred to as Omni Circular, Super Circular, and Uniform Grant Guidance), organizations that receive federal grants must establish and maintain effective internal controls that provide reasonable assurance that the grant is being managed in compliance with federal statutes, regulations, and the grant’s terms and conditions.

Before starting work on any grant project, take these steps to help meet requirements:

  • Assign responsibility to review the applicable grant agreement (that way, you know you have someone owning the job).
  • Identify any associated regulatory requirement (this could range from daily checks to monthly reports, depending on the grant’s requirement provisions).
  • Develop a compliance matrix that lists the grant’s key provisions, and assign someone to confirm that each key provision is in agreement (so that you know each compliance requirement has been identified and confirmed).

Recent legal cases address noncompliance

If you pay attention to federal grant and contract news, you may have seen several recent cases that demonstrate the importance of having a proper understanding of grant compliance. In Universal Health Services v. Escobar, a family filed a lawsuit against a mental health services provider, claiming the facility was reimbursed for services they did not provide in accordance with regulations. As a result, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that organizations can be held liable under the False Claims Act if they fail to disclose non-compliance with requirements. Further, the case increased the act’s civil penalties; defendants are now responsible for treble damages and up to $10,000 per false claim.

Based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on this case, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York reopened a separate lawsuit,The United States of America v. CDM Smith Inc., in which a contractor was suspected of not delivering on promised services. The contractor is now at risk of being charged with False Claims Act violations following claims that they did not provide qualified personnel, necessary project supervision, and requested reimbursement for hours not performed. Because this case is still ongoing, no settlement amount has been provided.

These cases are a reminder of how important it is to fully understand the requirements of your grant funding and the possible implications of noncompliance.

How we can help

While it can be complex, grant funding can mean the difference between expanding your mission, being able to serve a large number of individuals in your community, and doing the research that will make an impact to future generations.

We have identified the grant issues that concern you most and developed methods and tools, including a Uniform Guidance Implementation checklist, articles, recorded webinars and presentation slides, and a subrecipient risk assessment matrix, to help you meet these challenges. Our CPAs and nonprofit professionals are recognized in their fields and can help provide insight tailored to your specific grants.