Council on Financial Assistance Reform

November 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

On October 27, 2011, the first OMB Memorandum for fiscal year 2012 was released: Creation of the Council on Financial Assistance Reform (M-12-01). The memo establishes the Council on Financial Assistance Reform (COFAR) as an interagency group of Executive Branch officials charged with creating a more streamlined and accountable structure to coordinate financial assistance.

The COFAR will be comprised of the OMB Controller and nine agency senior officials. Eight agencies will serve as static members and include the agencies that provide the greatest amounts of federal grants dollars, including Departments of Agriculture (USDA), Education (DoED), Energy (DOE), Health and Human Services (HHS), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Labor (DOL) and Transportation (DOT). The ninth agency will be a rotating senior policy official from another federal agency as selected by OMB for a two year term. The first term will be served by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The COFAR will be co-chaired by the OMB Controller and a senior policy official from one of the member agencies for a two-year term, which will be initially served by HHS.

According to the memo, the COFAR will be responsible for the following:

  • Providing recommendations to OMB on policies and necessary actions to effectively deliver, oversee, and report on grants and cooperative agreements
  • Sharing best practices and innovative ideas for transforming the delivery of assistance
  • Discussing and reporting to OMB on expanding its purview to include loans, insurance, direct assistance, and other types of financial assistance with relevant stakeholders
  • Fostering more efficient and effective federal financial management by coordinating the development and implementation of a standardized business process, data standards, metrics, and information technology
  • Coordinating the streamlining and simplification of the financial assistance process by eliminating unnecessary regulatory reporting and grant-agreement requirements
  • Identifying emerging issues, challenges, and opportunities in grants management and policy
  • Serving as a clearing house of information on innovations and best practices in grants management

The establishment of the COFAR stems from the current Administration’s focus on reforming the federal government to better serve the American people and the establishment of the Government Accountability and Transparency Board (GATB), which underscored the need for a single, government-wide governance body over federal grants and cooperative agreements. Hence, the memo dissolves the Grants Policy Committee (GPC) and Grants Executive Board (GEB), the previous government-wide grants governance bodies established in 1999 and 2004 respectively. With the dissolution of the GPC, the GPC.gov website will be disabled in the near future.

 

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