Rachel Werner

Rachel Werner’s career has spanned the corporate, nonprofit, and public sectors. The founder of RBW Strategy, Ms. Werner spent nearly seven years as a dedicated fundraiser and grant writer for nonprofit organizations and freelance clients. She has served as a dedicated fundraiser and grant writer for nonprofit organizations and as a grants management specialist implementing a compliance system for large U.S. Department of Education No Child Left Behind funds within charter schools across the U.S. In addition to being a skilled project manager, she has strong subject matter expertise pertaining to the grants lifecycle.
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Recent Posts

Subrecipient vs. Subcontractor vs. Subaward designation: Confusion between the “Subs”

Posted by Rachel Werner on Nov 28, 2016 4:10:00 AM

I was recently speaking with a client that received two federal grants from two different federal agencies. They began working on the contractor agreements for their vendors, and realized that each agency interpreted 2 CFR 200 (Uniform Grant Guidance or UGG) subaward vs. subrecipient vs. subcontractor terminology very differently. This not only is confusing from an operations standpoint, but can have immediate implications from a transparency perspective if the application is not standardized across the board. Let’s start out with some definitions.

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Topics: OMB, Uniform Guidance

Grants Management Case Studies, Part 2: High-Risk Grantee Designation and Funding Mismanagement

Posted by Rachel Werner on Sep 9, 2015 5:00:00 AM

Every grantee in receipt of government funding wants to ensure that they are in good standing with their federal, state, and local government counterparts. However, in some cases organizations can be designated as high-risk, which leads to unfortunate punitive measures down the road. What do these entail and how can you maintain compliance and avoid these measures?

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Grants Management Case Studies, Part 1: Effective Use of Federal Funding at the State and Local Levels

Posted by Rachel Werner on Aug 17, 2015 4:00:00 AM

Each day grant professionals focus on supporting their recipients, adhering to administrative requirements, and in general, focusing on the daily operations of administering or managing large grant awards. Unless someone seeks out a professional development opportunity, such as a conference or webinar, how does a grant professional stay engaged in best practices regarding federal grants management? As is often the case, people learn by reading about what others are doing that ensures success. This article reflects the first in a series of case studies about various grants management topics, specifically pertaining to the post-award management of federal grant funds.

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Topics: Grants Management Best Practices

Performance Measurement: What the Uniform Guidance Means for Data Gathering

Posted by Rachel Werner on May 20, 2015 6:00:00 AM

Performance Measurement, Evaluation Strategy, Outcomes and Benchmarks – do these terms mean anything to you or are they just grant industry lingo? By now I’m sure you are aware of two important concepts: 1) measuring the progress of your project or program is important, and 2) maintaining and collecting accurate data is essential to any grant-seeking organization/agency. 

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Topics: OMB, Grants Management Best Practices, Uniform Guidance

Indirect Costs: Deconstructing the “Overhead Myth” in the Uniform Guidance

Posted by Rachel Werner on Apr 6, 2015 8:24:00 AM

In the summer of 2014, almost everyone either participated in or knew someone who participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It was a win/win situation – The ALS Association gained exposure through various social media outlets, and experienced a near 1,000 percent increase in donations from the previous year at that time. However, people started to look a little deeper and wonder, Where is my money going? Is it really supporting research? They are shocked to discover that some of the donation funds actually go toward administrative costs and overhead. While those unfamiliar with a nonprofit budget might find this disenchanting, this is actually common and accepted practice, and must be understood in more detail to clarify some misconceptions. 

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Topics: Nonprofits, Local Government, Indirect Costs, Uniform Guidance

Uniform Guidance: How Grantees Can Prepare for the Change

Posted by Rachel Werner on Mar 3, 2015 3:00:00 AM

As most grant professionals whose work is impacted by federal grants during the pre-award or post-award management phases are aware, the Office of Management and Budget’s Uniform Guidance (previously known as the "Omni-Circular" and "Super Circular") has modified specific administrative and cost requirements pertaining to federal grants and contracts. While a number of articles and blog posts have focused on the crosswalk between the new guidance (prior to December 26, 2014) and the previous guidance,1 and its potential impact on grantees and sub-grantees, there has been minimal information pertaining to best practices and applicability in the real world. Based on my research, this information is still in progress as grantees and sub-grantees begin to implement measures to adhere to the Uniform Guidance. However I have identified some steps that grantees and sub-grantees can do to prepare for the change.

1For those who received awards prior to the December 26, 2014, adoption of the Uniform Guidance, note that you are still held responsible to adhere to the previous OMB circulars. Make sure you check your notice of grant award to confirm.

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Topics: OMB, Grants Management Best Practices, Uniform Guidance

The DATA Act: Important Dates for 2015 and Beyond

Posted by Rachel Werner on Jan 12, 2015 6:00:00 AM

In November 2014, I attended a conference sponsored by the Maryland Governor’s Grants Office. The focus was primarily on the changes that are taking place within the federal government pertaining to grants management, and then filtering down to state and local governments and nonprofit organizations. These changes include the required use of the OMB Omni-Circular and the implementation of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA) Act. As grant professionals, we know that these changes are important and we can look through the voluminous acts to determine their significance in our daily work. But do you know why they are here, particularly the DATA Act?

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Topics: DATA Act, Grants Management Best Practices

Best Practices for Grantees and Grantors: Evaluation

Posted by Rachel Werner on Aug 12, 2014 10:01:00 PM

My husband is a former swimmer who swam year-round in his hometown of Tucson, Arizona. The winners of each race were determined exclusively by time—whoever touched the wall first. Success is easy to define when using time as the unit of measurement. However, what happens when there are multiple variables that define success, as in grant writing? When variables such as time are not fixed and include people, external factors, changing organizational structure, and supplies and materials, the evaluation of success becomes more difficult to manage, and grant professionals are stuck in the crosshairs.

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Topics: Grants Management Best Practices

Best Practices for Grantees and Grantors: Grant Compliance

Posted by Rachel Werner on Aug 1, 2014 8:38:00 AM

In our quest to maintain high-quality programs that provide necessary services to the greater public, grantors and grantees focus on grant seeking. This often leads to grant professionals overlooking the often taxing work of complying with the requirements and stipulations of grant-awarded funding. I realize that the feeling of receiving an award is exhilarating, but we cannot stop our grant work once the award is funded. Grant compliance is the cornerstone of grants management, and every grant professional should become well versed in this topic, whether or not this is part of your work portfolio. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has become more focused on grant compliance, and (in general) grantors have created a larger culture of oversight that requires more stringent review of grantee programs. Grantees must ensure that funds are spent in accordance with a budget provided in a grant application, programs are being measured and issues addressed as they arise, and there are individuals within a grantee organization solely focused on managing grant compliance. Grantors themselves must be careful watchdogs to ensure that the funds they allocate and used carefully, and they are maintaining accurate records themselves.

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Topics: Grants Management Best Practices

Best Practices for Grantees and Grantors: Grant Data Management

Posted by Rachel Werner on Jul 13, 2014 10:18:00 PM

Data storage and management is something that all of us require both personally, and professionally, but rarely think about on a daily basis. Billions of dollars in federal funding has been earmarked for electronic health records, contract support to update aging computer systems and processes (think of Veterans Affairs), and a multitude of other systems. Grant data management has become increasingly important given the more focused OMB scrutiny on how federal funds are spent, and congressional focus on Transparency.gov to showcase how each federal dollar is spent in the public sector. This information is also intrinsically important from auditing, budgeting, strategic planning, and evaluation management perspectives. 

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Topics: Grants Management Best Practices