Federal Government Grants

Late night info commercials, and internet sites that offer guidance on the “how-to’s” of obtaining federal government grants, more often than not overlook federal compliance issues. While it is true that the federal government has numerous grants available through its departments and agencies, the assertion that they are “free” or “unencumbered” is, at the very least, misleading.

Overall, most government grants awarded by the federal government are done so to organizations, institutions, state and local governments. Additionally, most of these projects fund specific sectors of a population or a community-wide issue that needs addressing. Such projects can include the revitalization of a neighborhood, training the long-term unemployed to re-entry the workforce in key industries, and environmental concerns.

Once awarded, the entity responsible for the project must adhere to all the rules and guidelines stipulated by the funding initiative. The federal government maintains strict oversight of its funds, and demands proper procedures throughout the course of the project. Failure to adhere to these procedures can result in a legal nightmare for the organization or agency granted the federal funds. Therefore, all expenditures must be accounted for, and the federal government does, in fact, conduct detailed audits. All grant funds must be spent. Any funds remaining must be returned to the United States Treasury.

As with other types of grants, the federal government grants requires measurable and demonstrable success. Good ideas may read well, but federal dollars are awarded not just on a compelling technical narrative, the thoroughness with which the application was completed, or a sound budget – all important, to be sure – but on long-term achievable accomplishments!

Entities that acquire federal government assistance know from the outset that that the application may be rejected. The merits of the project may be admirable, even needed, but competition for federal dollars rules the day! In an increasingly disrupted economy, federal dollars are in short supply to assist even in noteworthy projects.

Although some entities still maintain staff that actively write and submit grant applications for federal government grants, this is not always the case. Some city governments in the United States no longer have the funds to employ such a grant writer. And this begs another concern: if awarded, the organization or agency must be able to administer the grant effectively. Once again, if the organization or agency has a grant writer on staff, this individual will, more likely than not, administer it. If the organization or agency does not, then who administers the grant?

Federal government grants require that the organization or agency understand the arduous process of acquiring such funds. Not only is it vital to find and engage the services of an excellent grant writer and administrator, it requires a commitment to all the particulars as outlined by the federal funding opportunity. It means, as well, that the organization or agency recognize that its application may be rejected!

Thus from the very start, an entity must analyze its costs outlays, and thoroughly understand the complexities of obtaining a federal government grant.

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