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'Yes, you are approved:' 10 things to do once you hear the magic words

You have to comply with all of post award requirements in order to access the funds you've secured

Getting a “yes, you are approved” to a grant application is an exciting event! You worked hard to develop a sound, competitive application. But now you have to comply with all of post award requirements for the federal funder.  It is critical for any grantee to work to assure that the organization sets up all of the internal processes for implementation of each step of the requirements. Once your grant award has been approved by an email notice, you need to begin the postaward process. Go to www.ojp.gov/funding and download a copy of the OJP Procurement Procedures Manual. 

Follow and complete each step of the prescribed process below to ensure you may access the funding for your project.

1. Complete the financial point of contact registrations through accessing the grants management system at https://grants,ojp.usdoj.gov. Further instructions are provided when you down load the User guide from this site.

2. Review your award and any special conditions related to the award. If your organization is in complete agreement with the award contents you must sign and date the agreement and initial any special conditions. Then, submit both the signed agreement and the initialed special conditions page to the OJP Control desk using the OJP prescribed methods provided in guide.

3. Sounds easy at first: “Read the Guidelines.”  Many do not read the guidelines thoroughly including the OMB circulars, the Code of Federal Regulations and the OJP Financial Guide. You should already have downloaded the OJP Financial Guide use while developing your grant project and its correlating budget. This document informs you of what you may or may not spend money on within your grant.  There are dozens of circulars for grants management. You and your organization’s financial personnel must be fully informed when it comes to grant management.  It is easy to get in a bind with the rules and regulations of grants management.  Saying you did not understand is not an allowable strategy.

4. Complete and return the Automated Clearing House Form to enable your organization to establish a direct deposit with you preferred financial institution. All financial transactions for the grant will be completed using digital transfers.

5. Your organization must establish the access payment using the Grant Payment Request System (GPRS) If you have completed step one you are now able to access the GPRS and can begin to drawdown the awarded funds.

6. Comply with all of the reporting requirements. A full explanation of these requirements may be found in the OJP Financial Guide. The reporting requirements call for at least quarterly categorical program progress reports, quarterly financial reports and end of program audits.  If your organization does not comply on time with these requirements reports,  payments are withheld until all requirements have been satisfactorily met.

7. Within 90 days of the end date of the grant, your organization must initiate closeout of the grant in the GMS.  You should submit a final progress report and a final federal financial report.  Your organization must also perform a financial reconciliation. If your organization’s reported unobligated balance of federal funds is more that your drawdowns you must draw down the difference. If your reported unobligated balance is less than your drawdowns, you must submit a check for the difference to OJP.

8. Review the top 10 frequently asked questions or just review the steps 1-7 again and contact OJP with any questions you may have. Contact information for support is provided throughout the Postaward Instructions document.

9. I feel a need to address a ninth step of my own. Many organizations have been tripped up in grants management by not remembering that each and every grant must have a separate line item identifier or cost center in both the income and expense side of the financial reporting system.  I have had calls from many departments whose local government finance office has deposited the grant money into the general funds account. This is called co-mingling of funds and you NEVER want this to happen.  It may sound like a no brainer, but mistakes and misadventures do happen. So gather your entire internal grant team of grant writer, project director/manager, chief, and financial department to make sure all of you work together to assure that all requirements of grant management are being monitored and managed simultaneously.  A federal audit concerning questions surrounding grants management can require an enormous amount of time and money to address.

10. Simplify your grant life. Download these documents and study all of them.  Watch for emails and website announcements of grants management training offered by the Bureau of Justice. It is worth the effort to prevent your organization from the trials and tribulations of grants management problems.

Besides, once you have downloaded all the needed documents, you will never have a problem with insomnia again (just kidding). Best wishes with your grant endeavors.  

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