Pursuit of Federal Funding

By Shayna Thompson and Timothy Riddlestorffer

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A Simple and Effective Guide to Navigating Grant Agreements and Cooperative Agreements

Federal funding provides unique opportunities to help your organization pursue meaningful projects that may otherwise not be attainable. Two commonly used federal funding opportunities available to the public and organizations are Grant Agreements and Cooperative Agreements. 

The primary difference between these types of funding opportunities is that in a Cooperative Agreement, a joint action or collaboration between the recipient and federal awarding agency during project performance is considered necessary or desirable to achieve successful project implementation. Conversely, in a Grant Agreement, the federal stakeholder takes on a purely monitoring role once the grant is awarded, allowing the recipient autonomy over performance of the agreement.

For example, the Department of Justice (DOJ) offers funding via Grant Agreements to support and implement programs that improve criminal, civil, and juvenile justice systems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers funding via Cooperative Agreements to collaborate with organizations in support of the public health system in research or outcomes for specific health conditions.

In pursuing either a Grant Agreement or Cooperative Agreement opportunity, there are some key factors in determining which option is best for your organization. Once determined, there are best practices to keep in mind when developing your organization’s application proposal for submission to the funding agency.

Grants Agreement Flow Chart

What to Know When Pursuing Federal Funding Opportunities

  • Grant Agreements and Cooperative Agreements are subject to Federal Managers’ Financial Integrity Act, GRPA Modernization Act, Paperwork Reduction Act, and Uniform Guidance(2 CFR Part 200). 
  • The Notice of Funding Opportunity contains key application information, such as purpose of the award, eligibility requirements, estimated award amount, application deadline, funding timeframe, and method of selection. 
  • Applications are typically submitted in 30-90 days; however, agencies can take up to 18 months to review applications before funds are awarded.
  • Federal awards are not a financial liability; therefore, organizations do not accrue interest on awarded funds.
  • Awarding agencies impose requirements on federal funds expecting recipients to maintain accurate programmatic and financial reporting to ensure responsible spending. 
  • Successful administration of federal funds increases your organization’s chances of procuring future funding opportunities.

Federal Funding Pursuit: Best Practices 

  • Conduct the proper research.
  • Ensure all requirements are met and included in your application.
  • Clearly state your proposal, research plan, timeline and budget.
  • Align your objectives & methods with the goals of the funding agency.
  • Indicate how the degree of the project success will be measured.
  • Showcase historical results that display responsibility in spending.

How Can Guidehouse Help?

The elements of federal funding can be complex, and determining which opportunity is best for your organization can be challenging. Guidehouse has extensive experience in supporting organizations with the development and implementation of highly functioning and effective processes that can help your organization succeed in current and future federal funding pursuits.

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