Princeton University submits that the Uniform Guidance benefits higher education institutions in many ways, but only so long as the federal awarding agencies interpret the rules of the Uniform Guidance consistently. The following captures a few areas where consistency is needed:
A. Sections 200.203(a)(5), Notice of funding opportunities (CFDA Numbers), and 200.301, Performance measurement – neither of these sections are being implemented consistently across the federal awarding agencies which causes grantees to spend more time trying to ensure that each federal awarding agency is satisfied with the grantee’s proposal and subsequent documentation.
B. Under section 200.306(a), Cost sharing or matching, some federal agencies are not being explicit, but rather vague by “encouraging” cost sharing in their funding notices. This ambiguity breeds conflict with the intended purpose of the Uniform Guidance.
C. Under section 200.308 (c)(3) a recipient must request prior approvals from federal awarding agencies for the “disengagement from the project for more than three months…”, however, federal awarding agencies interpret “disengagement” differently. For instance, some agencies want notification, while others have provided no guidance as to its preference. It would be less burdensome if there was a unified approach among federal agencies.
D. FFATA is not consistently clear on National Institutes of Health (NIH) awards which adds administrative burdens when attempting to comply with the requirements.
E. Provide clear guidance on controlled information and foreign national restrictions.
F. Section 200.332 – Not all agencies are consistent about prior approval with some waiving the written pre-approval requirement, others are saying pre-approval is needed. NIH is waiving the requirement, while, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and other agencies are requiring specific approval. ONR and Army Research Office (ARO) are requiring approvals.
G. Section 200.45 – federal awarding agencies are also not consistent with regard to whether a new subaward must be issued if the subaward is more than $150,000. UG requires approval, but some agencies (ONR/ARO) have advised that prior approvals are not necessary to modify a subaward with an anticipated amount above the $150,000 threshold. COGR says clarification came from OMB that more than one subaward can be issued to the same entity if there is a need to do so but each new subaward requires a distinct and separate SOW, budget, budget justification from the previously issued subaward. However, this guidance from COGR is not consistent with agency feedback as some are allowing modifications above the threshold.