From the USFWS Financial Assistance Support and Oversight Division-Branch of Policy (FASO-Policy) Office:

 

The Service's Basic Financial Assistance course is required for all Service staff that review, approve/sign, award, monitor, and close out grants and cooperative agreements, per Service policy 232 FW 1, Mandatory Financial Assistance Training.  Staff whose only role(s) in the financial assistance process is/are related to the purchase requisition/funds commitment in PRISM do not have to take the training. Staff who have award signatory authority must attend the training or delegate that authority down to someone who has taken the training (see 516 FW 3).

This training requirement was established under the authority and responsibilities for policy and oversight of all Service financial assistance programs delegated by the Director to the AD-WSFR. See Service policy 515 FW 1Responsibilities for Grants and Cooperative Agreements for more information on the AD-WSFR's role in this regard.

This training requirement was established Servicewide as a corrective action in response to several recent program review and audit findings, including findings under: 1) DOI's OIG Audit of the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives program (Report No. ER-IN-MOA-0015-2011); 2) Service's FY13 A-123 Appendix A review of cooperative agreements; and 3) DOI's 2013 targeted review of the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, the Coastal Program, and the Coastal Impact Assistance Program.  All of these audit/reviews revealed a lack of basic knowledge/understanding within many Service programs of financial assistance regulations, policies, guidance, and best practices needed to successfully perform our related Federal responsibilities.

Looking to the future, the Department has indicated they are working to establish DOI-level financial assistance training and possibly a grants specialist "certification" requirement.  We are hoping that our already established Service-specific training will be sufficient to fulfill any new training requirements the Department may implement.  For more information on financial assistance workforce training, see the United States Government Accountability Office's Report to Congress 13-591, "GRANT WORKFORCE: Agency Training Practices Should Inform Future Government-wide Efforts".

For more information, please contact Jean Kvasnicka at jean_kvasnicka@fws.gov.