OMB Simplifies Governmentwide Grant Guidance

Beth Cobert, newly installed as the White House deputy director for management, cast the effort “to reduce bureaucratic red tape." Beth Cobert, newly installed as the White House deputy director for management, cast the effort “to reduce bureaucratic red tape." Zack Frank/

Aiming to ease administrative burdens and curb waste and fraud, the Office of Management and Budget on Thursday announced simplified guidance for agency handling of the $600 billion in annual federal grants.

Beth Cobert, newly installed as the White House deputy director for management, cast the effort “to reduce bureaucratic red tape” as a key component of the Obama administration’s larger attempt to improve performance and ensure financial integrity in spending.

“This guidance is the culmination of a two-year collaborative effort across the federal government and its partners --state and local governments, Indian tribes, research and higher education institutions, nonprofit organizations and the audit community -- to rethink and reform the rules that govern our stewardship of federal dollars,” Cobert wrote in a blogpost.

Building off President Obama’s 2009 executive order on improper payments as well as other presidential and OMB memoranda, the guidance merges eight regulations into one document. It is designed to eliminate duplicative and conflicting rules; focus on performance over compliance for accountability; encourage efficient use of information technology and shared services; provide for consistent and transparent treatment of costs; limit allowable costs to make the best use of federal resources; set standard business processes using data definition; encourage non-federal entities to adopt family-friendly policies; strengthen oversight; and target audit requirements on risk of waste, fraud and abuse.

The guidance will be officially published on Dec. 26, and will be implemented by the cross-agency Council on Financial Assistance Reform, which worked with OMB to develop it, Cobert wrote.

(Image via Zack Frank/

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