Post-Award Guidelines for Help with Financial Reporting of Federal Grants - dummies

Post-Award Guidelines for Help with Financial Reporting of Federal Grants

By Beverly A. Browning

In federal grants, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) works cooperatively with funding agencies to establish government-wide grant management policies and guidelines. These guidelines are published in circulars and common rules. At the federal level, these documents are first introduced in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA). New circulars and common rules are published in the Federal Register.

This table lists the most commonly used federal grant management OMB circulars. The circular numbers are the keys to locating the document on the OMB website.

Office of Management and Budget Circulars
Circular Number Applicable Agencies
Cost Principles
A-21 Education institutions
A-87 State, local, and Native American tribal governments
A-122 Nonprofit organizations
Administrative Requirements
A-102 State and local governments
A-110 Institutions of higher education, hospitals, and other nonprofit organizations
Audit Requirements
A-133 State and local governments and nonprofit organizations

At the state funding level, the funding agency provides you with the funding stipulations, including the regulations for accessing, spending, reporting, and closing out grant funds.

Foundation and corporate funders give you their funding stipulations and/or regulations, if any, when the funds are awarded. Other than asking you to sign a grant agreement (a contract indicating that you’ll use the awarded funds as promised in your grant application), most private sector funders don’t have a ton of regulations and usually spell out any stipulations in the grant agreement.

As you read the circulars and guidelines, you may come across some unfamiliar terms. Fiscal accountability is the obligation to ensure that the funds granted are used correctly. Fiscal accountability lies with the entity responsible for managing the grant funds — usually, that’s the grant applicant, but in some instances it’s the fiscal sponsor.

Fiscal accountability means establishing an audit trail. A clear or single audit trail is an arrangement that allows any auditor, whether internal or from the funding source, to track the grant monies from the money-in stage to the money-out stage without finding that grant funds have been commingled with other organizational funds.