Grants Accessibility & Transparency Enhancement Act

September 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

On July 19, 2010, HR 5775: Grants Accessibility and Transparency Enhancement Act of 2010 was introduced to the United States (U.S) House of Representatives. The main purpose of the proposed legislation is to establish a commission on earmark reform and consolidate and streamline the grants management structure of the federal government. The Act is divided into five sections:

1. Establish National Commission on Earmark Reform

The National Commission on Earmark Reform, composed of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and other presidentially appointed members, would be charged with studying laws and practices related to replacing earmarks with a grant-making process, developing a proposed plan to transition from congressional member-directed earmarks to the grant-making process, and proposing legislative or regulatory changes to implement a specific governance structure for all grants functions. The Commission would use expert grant award panels to receive, review, and award grant funding in a merited-based system.

2. Establish Office of Grant Making within OMB

The Office of Grant Making would not only be responsible for directing and coordinating the development of the expert grant award panels created by the Act and the specific recommendations of the National Commission on Earmark Reform, but also maintaining Grants.gov. The office would also be charged with implementing a common grant application and reporting system and an interagency process for addressing the following:

  • Streamlining and simplifying federal grant administrative procedures and reporting requirements for non-federal entities
  • Improving interagency and intergovernmental coordination of information collection and sharing of data pertaining to federal grants
  • Improving timeliness, completeness, and quality of information received by agencies from recipients of federal grants

3. Streamline the Role of Agencies in Grant-Making Process

If implemented, federal grant-making agencies would have 180 days to develop and implement a plan to:

  • Streamline and simply the application, administrative, and reporting procedures for federal grants administered by the agency
  • Demonstrate a process to actively participate in expert grants award panels established by the legislation
  • Demonstrate appropriate agency use, or plans for use, of a common grant application and reporting system
  • Designates a lead agency official for carrying out the responsibilities of the agency under the proposed Act
  • Allow grant applicants to electronically apply for and report on the use of funds
  • Ensure recipients provide timely, complete, and accurate information in response to federal reporting requirements
  • Establish specific annual goals and objectives to further the purposes of the proposed Act and measures annual performance in achieving those goals and objectives

4. Expand Use & Functionality of Grants.gov

The Act transfers ownership of Grants.gov to the OMB Office of Grant Making created by the legislation, establishes a requirement for all grants be posted on Grants.gov, and merges USASpending.gov into Grants.gov. In addition, the functionality of Grants.gov would be expanded to include not only finding and applying for grants, but also submitting and receiving grant applications; sending grant award notification and other documentation; submitting and receiving post-award management reports; grants-related closeout tools; grant award tracking; and training and technical assistance.

5. End Congressional Earmarks, Limited Tax Benefits, and Limited Tariff Benefits

Finally, the Act would amend Section 312 of the congressional Budget Act of 1974 by adding new subsections aimed at ending congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, and limited tariff benefits.

As of September 1, 2010 the proposed legislation was in the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform as well as the Committees on the Budget and Rules for consideration of provisions that fall within the jurisdiction of the committees.

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