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Federal Grants Have Their Own Regulations

Federal grants are a fundamentally different type of funding vehicle than contracts beginning with the regulations that govern them. By understanding how grants are different, the chance of award is greatly increased. Grants support a wide range of initiatives, from scientific research and education programs to infrastructure development and social services; however, all federal grants are a type of assistance funding aligned to a federal agency’s goals that ultimately benefit the general good of that agency’s mission.


While the broad statutory authority that regulate federal contracts is implemented through Title 48, “Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)”, of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Federal grants are regulated in Title 2, “Grants and Agreements” of the CFR. Outlining the overarching principals and requirements for federal grants, Title 2 includes regulations specific to grants including cost principles, consistent standards for grant management, and audit requirements.


The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) then further defines and refines the common set of rules that apply to all federal grants in the "Uniform Guidance" to ensure consistencies across agencies. In 2013, the OMB consolidated all previous executive-level, grant-related regulations into a single document to streamline and simplify the grant management process for both grantors and grantees. The Uniform Guidance created a common set of rules specifically around cost principles, reporting requirements, and auditing all while increasing transparency and reducing the administrative burdens on all parties.


As much as the federal government has strived to keep all grant regulations in one location, there are still additional, supplemental rules for most grants to communicate specific requirements, additional details, and other rules. Sometimes these regulations are overarching and apply across the Agency, but other time regulations exist at a lower level within the Agency. For example, the Department of Defense (DoD) maintains the DoD Grant and Agreement Regulations (DoDGARs) while the Department of Energy (DoE) has supplements at the Program-level. These supplemental regulations provide additional details and specific requirements for grant programs within each agency.


Federal grants can be a powerful tool to improve communities and/or conduct research. Understanding the regulations governing them is a first step to ensuring compliance and achieving success.


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