November 2, 1999
The Administration supports the efforts to improve the effectiveness and
performance of Federal financial assistance programs, which is the intent
of S. 468, the Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act.
Making it easier for States, local governments, and non-profit
organizations to apply for and report on financial assistance is an
important goal and one that we support.
However, the Administration strongly opposes the bill because of our continuing concerns regarding its requirements, which in some cases are inconsistent with existing program statutes. As has been stated previously in communications to Congress on H.R. 409 and similar bills considered by the previous Congress, the bill provides little guidance about how the agencies would achieve the goal of commonality without the authority to overcome statutory barriers. With widely varying statutory and programmatic requirements among grant programs, a one-size-fits-all approach would likely fail to achieve better administration of Federal resources and would add unnecessary costs and burdens to the agencies.
In addition, many agencies would be required to go through extensive revision of regulations and information collections, including public comment periods and consultation with State and local officials, in order to meet the requirement of common application and reporting forms across all grant programs. At the same time, the agencies would be required to create a common system for electronic processing of all grant programs in a time frame that is not consistent with the Government Paperwork Elimination Act of 1998.
The Administration believes the negative results of the bill would far outweigh the benefits of a more reasoned approach to reform of the grant making process. Any attempt at reform must provide the agencies with the time and resources necessary to meet their goals.