Sneak Preview: USAspending.gov Will Maintain Indirect Cost Data

Jerry Ashworth
November 19, 2020 at 07:38:59 ET
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(The following was excerpted from a recent Thompson Grants 360 article.) The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in a recently released memo to federal agencies, designated USAspending.gov as the public website to maintain information about grant recipient federally negotiated indirect cost rates.

In the Aug. 13 revisions to the uniform guidance, which became effective Nov. 12 and apply to new awards or modifications to existing awards issued as of that date, OMB included a new provision at §200.414(h), which states that “the federally negotiated indirect rate, distribution base and rate type for a nonfederal entity (except for the Indian tribes or tribal organizations, as defined in the Indian Self Determination, Education and Assistance Act, 25 U.S.C. 450b(1)), must be available publicly on an OMB-designated federal website.”

OMB on Nov. 12 issued Memorandum M-21-03, entitled “Improvements in Federal Spending Transparency for Financial Assistance,” which addressed several data-related topics. It requires that all information in signed and legally binding grant award agreements to be made public on USAspending.gov to the maximum extent permitted by law, except for information that would be exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. While designating USAspending.gov as the official federal website for posting the indirect cost rates, the memo further explained that cognizant agencies, effective for federal fiscal year (FY) 2022, must report this information for each funded nonfederal entity to a central location for display on USAspending.gov recipient profiles. The Grants Data Standards Element Working Group will provide details as to what data elements are needed to link this information to recipient data in the System for Award Management (SAM.gov).

Federal processes to make indirect cost rates publicly available tie in with work OMB is conducting under the Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreement Transparency (GREAT) Act (Pub. L. 116-103). By the end of November, OMB will assemble a working group to provide recommendations on a set of common standard data elements for award agreements and information related to indirect cost rates. This process aims to build on Version 1.0 of the Grants Standard Data Elements and on the results of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) (Pub. L. 113-101) Section 5 pilot.

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time here.)

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