Pass-Through Grants: Sub-awards and the Federal Government

Posted by Paul Oostenbrug on Oct 9, 2013 12:38:00 AM

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Last week I published a general overview on pass-through grants. This week I’ll discuss federal research sub-awards, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, collaborative opportunities, and my experience with pass-through funding.

Federal Research Grant Sub-awards

Many research grant opportunities allow sub-awards. And some solicitations require them. If a prime award is made to an institution or group of institutions, a portion of that award may then be distributed to sub-awardees to complete specific tasks as part of the larger proposal. It sometimes happens that following a prime award to an institution, the institution finds that it needs to issue a sub-award because it lacks the resources or skills to complete specific tasks that were outlined in the funded proposal. Both the prime awardee and sub-awardees have programmatic and financial management activities to carry out. The mechanics of sub-awards vary depending on the funding source.

Grants.gov and Federal Sub-award Requirements

Sub-award PDF documents are available on Grants.gov. If the “parent” grant award opportunity on Grants.gov allows sub-awards, the Grants.gov page for that opportunity will have a sub-award budget attachment form that must be completed by each collaborator. And, of course, the activities that will be carried out by sub-awardees must be clearly described in the narrative. 

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA) is intended to reduce wasteful spending in the government and requires information on federal awards and sub-awards (federal financial assistance and expenditures). The FFATA provides data to the public in a single, searchable website, which has information about all federal sub-awards.

The FFATA Sub-award Reporting System (FSRS) is the reporting tool that federal prime awardees (i.e., prime contractors and prime grants recipients) use to capture and report sub-award and executive compensation data regarding their first-tier sub-awards. The FFATA reporting requirements apply to both prime contract awardees, who report against sub-contracts awarded, and prime grant awardees, who report against sub-grants awarded.  See https://www.fsrs.gov/ for info.

Foundation Grant Collaborations

One of the best things you can do is focus on funders that require or encourage collaboration and determine whether your existing collaboration fits the bill. Your research may also suggest types of collaborations that your organization should consider spearheading, or simply participating in. From the MacArthur Foundation to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, there are many foundation initiatives that encourage collaboration. Another example is the Lodestar Foundation, which awards a Collaboration Prize. So be sure to explore ways to collaborate

How Associations Deal with Pass-Throughs

Associations often encourage collaboration and fund-sharing between their members. For example, I worked with the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC)  to develop a grant application to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for its Partnership for Patients (PFP) program in 2011. UHC was selected as a Hospital Engagement Contractor (HEC) to reduce preventable inpatient harm by 40 percent readmissions by 20 percent in ten clinical focus areas. It leveraged its existing Imperatives For Quality program through which its members (113 academic medical centers and their affiliated hospitals) participate in collaborative performance improvement initiatives. UHC engages them on collaborations, provides data and support to allow them to set and attain performance improvement goals, monitors their performance, and measures the results of their participation. 

Federal grants that allow sub-awards certainly warrant your organization’s consideration. But their complexity often requires that you seek objective guidance.

About the Author

Paul Oostenbrug

Paul Oostenbrug is the President of East Bridge Consultants and a Grants Professional Services partner. He assists social service agencies, community-based organizations, healthcare providers, and start-ups to identify and obtain funding from government and foundation sources.  This involves research, the facilitation of program development efforts, and grant writing.  He can be contacted at paul@eastbridge.us.

 

 

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Topics: Subrecipient Monitoring and Management, Grants Management Best Practices, Pass-Through Grants