I joined the session on FFATA a little late (Brad Stanford's fault, honest!) but arrived just in time to see Gil Tran of OMB slay the crowd and take the title of Humorous Government Person at the FDP Meeting from Jean Feldman. There's nothing like a mock French e-mail to cheer a crowd. Anyway, Gil, Barbara Dorf, Terry Hurst, and Earl Warrington all provided some information about progress in implementing FFATA. More after the jump...
Barbara Dorf defined "sub-award" for the purposes of FFATA (note to Barbara: dark blue text on a light blue background....agh!). I didn't type fast enough to get it all down here but the definition will be posted to the Federal Register after approval by OMB, so no harm done. Barbara also defined "contract".
How data will be collected is "TBD". If you'd like to participate in the pilot of the FFATA solution, contact email@example.com, including your organization name, your name, title, phone number, e-mail, and fax number.
The subaward pilot will assist in
- Testing subaward reporting
- Identifying the data elements that would be required to make a subaward record accurate and informative
- Determining where a subaward record should be reported and displayed for public inquiry
- Identifying the terms and condctions for awards so that subaward reporting requirements are uniform and followed by award recipients
- Identifying other issues resulting from the subaward pilot (a draft project plan for the pilot timeline will be posted to FederalSpending.gov, although the pilot will start around February 2008 and end in July)
Q [Bob Beattie, the cheeky monkey]: (Paraphrasing) I thought there was a provision in the law to allow grantees to charge the costs of collecting this data to the grant?
A [Gil Tran]: The law isn't that specific, but it does say that those costs are allowable.
Q [unknown]: Some agencies gather data on some of our subawardees at the time of application. If agencies have this data, what is the thought of hauling that information out of agencies into the database?
A [Barbara Dorf]: The question is whether all the required data is available, and this is what this pilot aims to answer.
Q [unknown]: This seems to be a one-size-fits-all solution. Because of the many different types of grants, there may be several models that might better suit the community.
A [Barbara Dorf]: It hasn't been decided whether it is indeed one-size-fits-all. The question remains the data elements. We want to see the commonality among agencies and grants, and to work from there.
Earl Warrington, Director of the Integrated Acquisition Environment, talked a little more about the IAE's perspective on FFATA.
Terry Hurst presented TAGGS, the HHS system that gathers grants award data already, and the Grants Subcommittee working on FFATA compliance. The FFATA Task Force is working on two approaches: using the OMB Watch (FedSpending.org) software, and a federated search approach using software from DOD.
Q [Bob Beattie]: I entered a comment on FederalSpending.gov and nothing happened -- I didn't get a confirmation.
A [Gil Tran]: Someone does monitor that site but I'll take that question back to them.
Q [Bob Beattie]: What constitutes the data element called "Other Relevant Information"?
A [Gil Tran]: OMB will decide on what constitutes "Other Relevant Information".
Q [Bob Beattie]: Who tracks all the tiers of subcontractors? Is it the original awardee, or each recipient down the chain?
A [Gil Tran]: Barbara Dorf's pilot will test this and see how it works. At this time, we are relying on the prime to collect data from all the tiers.
A [Earl Warrington]: In contracting, primes identify their subcontractors. The prime then tells the subs that they have to do the same reporting, and this continues to flow down.
Q [Steve Dowdy]: What if a grantee buys a $50,000 gidget from a contractor? Who reports that use of federal funds?
A [Gil Tran]: Under A-133, the contractor will need to report the contract but the grantee will not.