Key actors in the Federal Grants world include the Grants Officer, the Program Officer, the Cognizant Agency, the Office of Inspector General (OIG), and the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The individual designated to serve as the agency official responsible for the business management aspects of a particular grant(s) or cooperative agreement(s). The Grants Officer serves as the counterpart to the business officer of the recipient organization. In this capacity, the Grants Officer is responsible for all business management matters associated with the review, negotiation, award, and administration of grants and interprets grants administration policies and provisions. He/she works closely with the program or project officer who is responsible for the scientific, technical, and programmatic aspects of the grant.
Sometimes referred to as the Project Official, the Program Officer is the individual designated as the official responsible for the programmatic, scientific, and/or technical aspects of agency programs. He/she serves as the counterpart to the agency’s Grants Officer who is responsible for all business management aspects of a grant.
Cognizant Agency and the Division of Cost Allocation Officer
The individual responsible for negotiating and approving rate(s) that should be used to determine amounts of indirect, fringe benefit and other types of costs to be included on a federal award. The approval is formalized by issuance of a Rate Agreement signed by the cognizant agency and an authorized representative of the organization.
Office of Inspector General
The OIG is an independent office that keeps the agency head and the Congress fully and currently informed about problems and deficiencies relating to the administration of agency programs and operations and the necessity for and progress of corrective action. The OIG conducts and supervises audits and investigations relating to the programs and operations of the federal agency it serves. The OIG also provides leadership and coordination and recommends policies for activities designed to (a) promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in the administration of the agency, and (b) to prevent and detect fraud and abuse in agency programs and operations.
The OIGs conduct audits and investigations of not only grantees, but also of grantor agencies. OIG auditors make findings and recommendations, but do not implement program recommendations. Auditors are trained to identify fraud and will refer possible fraud situations to the Office of Investigations.
Government Accountability Office and Comptroller General
The Comptroller General heads the GAO and is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate for a 15-year term. The GAO evaluates federal programs, audits federal expenditures, and issues legal opinions on all matters related to the receipt, disbursement, and use of public money; analyzes executive agency expenditures to help Congress determine whether money is expended economically and efficiently; and issues Government Auditing Standards also known as the “Yellow Book.”