On March 19, 2021, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) published Memorandum M-21-20 to outline the Administration’s approach to “effective implementation and stewardship of American Rescue Plan funds.”
The memo was broken into five sections:
- Improving Program and Service Design to Achieve More Equity-Oriented Results for Federal Financial Assistance
- Ensuring Robust and Transparent Reporting
- Appendix 1: Management of Payment Integrity Risks Related to American Rescue Plan Funding
- Appendix 2: Achieving More Equity-Oriented Results for Financial Assistance
- Appendix 3: Disaster Relief Flexibilities to Reduce Burden for Financial Assistance
This post will summarize the flexibilities outlined in Appendix 3: Disaster Relief Flexibilities to Reduce Burden for Financial Assistance.
On April 22, 2021, members of OMB’s Grants Team participated in a webinar where they discussed recent updates to Uniform Guidance and OMB Memo M-21-20. One of the slides featured a list of the twelve flexibilities in M-21-20 and three of the eleven in M-20-17 that are not in the most recent memo. It is important to note that OMB Memo M-20-17 was originally published on March 19, 2020, and updated on June 18, 2020. Read Grants Works’ overview of OMB Memo M-20-17.
Comparison of 12 flexibilities per OMB Memo M-21-20 vs. the 11 flexibilities outlined in M-20-17
Source: Office of Management and Budget Grants Team
As outlined in 2 CFR 200.201, OMB is providing administrative relief to recipients of federal financial assistance affected by the pandemic by granting federal awarding agencies the authority to allow the following exceptions as they deem appropriate and to the extent permitted by law. Below is a summary of each of the twelve exceptions.
1. Flexibility with SAM registration/recertification: Federal awarding agencies may relax the requirement of SAM registration at the time of application to expeditiously issue funding. However, SAM registration at the time of award still applies. Currently registered entities with expirations between April 1, 2021, and September 30, 2021, automatically get a one-time 180-day extension.
2. Waiver of NOFO publication: NOFOs for grants and cooperative agreements may be published by federal awarding agencies for less than 30 days without justification for the shortened timeframe. However, they are still required to document and track those published under 30 days.
3. Pre-award costs: Awarding agencies may allow necessary pre-award costs that were incurred from March 15, 2021, through the Public Health Emergency Period and prior to the effective date of a federal award. FYI HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra announced another 90-day extension of the Public Health Emergency Period on April 21, 2021.
4. No-cost extension on expiring awards: Federal awarding agencies may allow the automatic extension of up to 12 months of awards that were active as of March 31, 2021, and scheduled to expire up to December 31, 2021.
5. Abbreviated non-competitive continuation requests: For non-competitive continuation requests due between April 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021, federal awarding agencies may accept a brief statement from recipients to verify they can: (1) resume or restore project activities and (2) accept a planned continuation award. Agencies must also assess if they can extend this approach on subsequent continuation award start dates.
6. Waivers from prior approval requirements: While all costs charged to federal awards must be consistent with federal cost policy guidelines and award terms, federal awarding agencies are authorized to waive prior approval requirements as necessary to address the response.
7. Exemption from certain procurement requirements: Certain procurement requirements such as those regarding geographical preferences and contracting small and minority businesses, women’s business enterprises, and labor surplus area firms may be waived by awarding agencies. However, agencies must require recipients to maintain documentation to support relevant charges against federal awards.
8. Extension of financial and other reporting: If authorized by the awarding agency financial, performance, and other reports may be delayed by up to three months beyond the standard due dates and recipients may continue to draw down federal funds without the timely submission of the reports. However, they must be submitted at the end of the extension period unless the awarding agency (on an award-by-award basis) waives the requirement for recipients to notify the agency of problems, delays, or adverse conditions related to COVID-19.
9. Extension of Single Audit submission: Cognizant or oversight agencies for audit should allow recipients and subrecipients with fiscal year-ends through June 30, 2021, that have not yet filed their single audits with the Federal Audit Clearinghouse as of March 19, 2021 (the date Memo M-20-21 was published) to delay the completion and submission of Single Audit reporting packages to six months beyond the standard due date. However, recipients and subrecipients should maintain documentation of the reason for the delayed filing.
10. Flexibility with application deadlines: If this exception does not negatively impact underserved communities, federal awarding agencies may provide flexibility in the submission of competing applications for specific announcements and unsolicited applications.
11. Extension of closeout: If a grantee provides the awarding agency with proper notice about reporting delays, the awarding agency may allow the grantee to delay the submission of any pending financial, performance, and other reports required per the award terms for the closeout of expired projects for up to one year after the award expires. After all final reports are received, the federal agency has six months to close out the award.
12. Flexibility for the Management requirement related to Physical Inventories: An extension of up to 12 months may be granted to awardees by awarding agencies for the biennial physical inventory of equipment purchased under a federal award.
Visit WhiteHouse.gov to read OMB M-21-20. If you are a recipient of federal financial assistance (grant or cooperative agreement), be sure to look for or revisit recent announcements from awarding agency(ies) to determine if any of these flexibilities have been extended to your organization.