OMB Publishes Federal Grants Reform Final Guidance

OMB Publishes Federal Grants Reform Final Guidance

Jan 22, 2014

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) working with the Council on Financial Assistance Reform (COFAR) issued final guidance titled “Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards” in the December 26, 2013 Federal Register. The new guidance, which is by turns called either the “Super-Circular” or the “Omni-Circular,” supersedes and streamlines requirements from eight separate OMB Circulars including three that apply to Institutions of Higher Education,  A–21, A–110, and A–133.


Federal grants reform has been steadily moving forward since 2011 even through Federal budget disruptions, Sequestration, and the Federal government shutdown. These revisions, which are being put forward as a means of reducing administrative burden and waste, fraud, and abuse, represent a significant change in the regulatory framework that define the administration of sponsored programs and will require UNH to carefully consider the way federally sponsored projects are managed.

The Omni-Circular includes changes that are clearly positive, including broader authority to direct charge administrative costs and computing resources to awards.  There are provisions for “fixed amount (grant) awards” with payments based on meeting the specific requirements of the Federal award and accountability based on performance and results.  There are also changes whose impact is at best uncertain, like new requirements that all awarding agencies establish conflict of interest policies for Federal awards and requirements for grantees to establish prescriptive internal controls.

 OMB and COFAR will provide web-based training throughout 2014 on these reforms and basic grants administration.  Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA) will pass along notices of available training in future blogs.  SPA will also provide training and communications on this major Federal grants reform as its implementation is better defined. Please contact your Grants and Contracts Administrator (GCA) or Financial Research Administrator (FRA) in SPA with any questions.

Bookmark and Share