What Is a Government Contract? And How Does a Contract Differ from a Grant?

This post was originally published on May 9, 2018 and updated on August 28, 2019.

We expect to hit some turbulence in this blog post, so we have turned on the proverbial fasten seat belt light.

The seemingly simple question, “What is a government contract?”, requires a complex answer. We have divided this blog post into four sections: (1) basic definitions, (2) five differences between grants and contracts, (3) examples of a grant and contract to illustrate these differences, and (4) resources for more information.

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What Is the Office of Management and Budget? (And How Does It Relate to Federal Grants?)

This post was originally published on May 1, 2017 and updated on July 23, 2019.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is an Executive Branch office that oversees the implementation of the President of the United States’ vision across government agencies (WhiteHouse.gov – OMB). This relates to the grant programs implemented by federal agencies and affects how they are managed, their budgets, and the forms applicants complete when applying for a grant.

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What Is Federal Financial Assistance? [Updated]

This post was originally published on April 17, 2017 and updated on July 3, 2019.

Federal financial assistance is the transfer of anything of value, most often money, from a federal agency to a non-federal entity.

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In the most general sense, federal financial assistance is a tool the government uses to serve public purposes as defined by Congress.

Federal financial assistance is a very broad term, and it can take on a variety of more precise forms.

  • One of the most common forms is a grant, which we write about quite often on this blog.
  • Other examples of federal financial assistance include cooperative agreements, donations of property, direct appropriations, food commoditiesloans, interest subsidies, and insurance.
  • Each type of federal financial assistance serves different purposes and has different legal and regulatory frameworks that govern how that specific assistance can be used.

Continue reading What Is Federal Financial Assistance? [Updated]

What Is a CFDA Number?

The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA), an E-Gov initiative managed by the General Services Administration (GSA), is a list of all federal financial assistance and nonfinancial assistance programs available to a variety of applicants.

The CFDA, now called Assistance Listings on beta.SAM.gov, helps users find general information about the assistance, identify program objectives, eligibility requirements, and links to current opportunities on Grants.gov related to a particular assistance listing.

CFDA numbers are the system for identifying and sorting the 2,000+ federal programs. Each CFDA number contains five digits and appears in the following format: ##.### (e.g., 10.001 or 98.102).

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GSA recently moved the CFDA from the now retired CFDA.gov to beta.SAM.gov, and it is now referred to as Assistance Listings.

To search the Assistance Listings, go to beta.SAM.gov, select the “Assistance Listings” option from the search drop-down menu, then type a keyword or number and click the Search button. Here’s a direct link to the Assistance Listings as well.

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What Is an Online Form?

In the context of applying for federal grants, “forms” are those seemingly endless documents you must fill out to complete the application process. An “online” form or webform, then, is a digital version of these documents that is accessible and editable in a web browser.

There is nothing revolutionary about this concept, but we at Grants.gov have now made online forms available in Grants.gov Workspace to make the application process a bit easier for you and your team. Continue reading What Is an Online Form?

What Is a Grant Forecast?

Sunny with a slight chance of competition? Cold and gloomy thanks to freezing funds?

While federal grant applicants may at times face such varying climates, the grant forecasts we refer to here are previews of potential funding opportunities that a grant-making agency plans to announce in the future.

Applicants can search for grant forecasts just as they would for funding opportunities – by using Grants.gov Search.

How to Search for Grant Forecasts

By checking “Forecasted” under Opportunity Status, searches can be tailored to turn up forecasted opportunities.

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What Is a Grant Manager? (Part 2) Grant Recipients

The grants lifecycle is complicated and requires an array of skills to manage. That is why grant managers are so important. In Part 1 of What Is a Grant Manager? we discussed federal grant managers, and in part 2 we will focus on the staff who manage grants received from federal agencies.

First, the job title “grant manager” is not necessarily the title everyone will have, but to keep it simple we use this term to refer to the grant professionals working to plan, write, implement, and report on federal grants.

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What Is a Grant Manager? (Part 1) Federal Agencies

To make sure grants are awarded and implemented effectively, grant managers perform a wide range of duties. As a result, the job title “grant manager” can refer to many different job responsibilities depending on the size and type of an organization as well as the size and type of a grant.

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Before distinguishing between specific types of organizations or grants, there is a higher-level distinction to make when answering the question, “What is a grant manager?” These grant professionals, after all, can be found at both grant-making organizations and at grant recipient organizations.

Continue reading What Is a Grant Manager? (Part 1) Federal Agencies

What Is a Grant? [Updated]

A grant is one of the government’s tools for funding ideas and projects to provide public services, stimulate the economy, and benefit the general public. Grants can be awarded for a wide-variety of activities, such as innovative research, recovery initiatives, infrastructure building, or any of the other hundreds of funding programs in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA).

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Examples of U.S. federal grant programs include those that support justice and law enforcement, social services and health research, and research in science and technology.

The process of successfully serving the public through grants, though, can be quite complex. Grant programs originate from laws, and then are administered by the appropriate federal agency. For example:

Continue reading What Is a Grant? [Updated]

What Is the OMB’s ‘Uniform Guidance’ for Grants?

With a name like Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (commonly called “Uniform Guidance”), you’re unlikely to mistake this government publication for a comic book or romance novel. But, unless you’re a federal grants expert, you may have some difficulty pinning down the Uniform Guidance’s main goal.

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In plain English, the Uniform Guidance is simply a set of authoritative rules and regulations about federal grants from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This “guidance” is designed to keep everyone in the federal grants community – Congress, grant-making agencies, and applicants – on the same page.

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