Frequently Asked Questions
A. The Program Unit is an office within the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. The DRL/Program Unit (DRL/P) is responsible for requests for proposals, internal vetting procedures, notifying grant funds, budget negotiations on projects and notifying Congress regarding DRL grant funds. DRL/P holds quarterly GOR Reviews that track the progress and impact of all DRL-administered grants. DRL/P also works with the Office of Acquisitions Management (AQM) on amendments, no-cost extensions, and other technical grant questions and often works with Congressional liaisons on the annual appropriation and budget requests. The Program Unit also receives and tracks all financial and progress reports, using the information to manage the drawdown requests for grantees.
Note: See Why Contact a Program Officer.
Q. Why was the Human Rights and Democracy Fund founded?
A. The Human Rights and Democracy Fund (HRDF) is the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor's flagship program. The HRDF was designed to help fill the gaps in democracy programming worldwide. HRDF supports projects that encourage democratic development and uphold international standards of human rights globally.
HRDF projects open political space in struggling or nascent democracies and authoritarian regimes where the U.S. government can effect positive change. Funds support initiatives that have the potential to create networks to effect transnational change.
These important efforts have brought success, and with success, HRDF funding has grown. As the lead agency promoting the President's Freedom Agenda, DRL works closely with embassies overseas and Congress to base our strategic investments on the priorities of the Department and our nation.
A. The Grants Officer Representative (GOR) for each grant is located within DRL, and works with the grantee on daily administration of the grant. The GOR reads quarterly reports and maintains an active file for each grant, including important email correspondence. The GOR is responsible for technical and financial oversight and shall not direct a Grantee to undertake any activity that would revise the total award amount, the project purpose or content, the project time period, the administrative terms, or the conditions of the award. The Grants Officer in the Office of Acquisitions Management (AQM) is responsible for these duties.
Note: See Grants Officer.
A. As a part of the Bureau of Administration, the grant award and administration process falls on the Grants Officer located in AQM. Grants Officers maintain the responsibility to ensure amendments are issued in a timely manner and only Grants Officers can approve major budget and programmatic changes.
Note: See Grants Officer Representative.
A. The Program Officers of DRL/P coordinate with GORs and Grants Officers, acting as an essential liaison between Bureaus and Offices. Program Officers can provide valuable information on project activity, the maintenance of grants, as well as the grants process.
Note: See Program Unit.
Q. I work in a U.S. post abroad. Where do we come in?
A. DRL notifies posts of new projects after the project has been congressionally notified and the grant has been signed by the grantee. Posts often help by visiting grantee sites, attending training sessions, and reporting back to DRL. DRL welcomes interest from Posts as appropriate. DRL also welcomes Embassy perspectives on programs by email or cable, especially evidence that the project is achieving or not achieving its objectives. During the grant approval process, DRL solicited comments from Posts through the regional desk officers, who sit on DRL grant panels.
A. The majority of RFPs are published early in the calendar year on www.grants.gov and DRL's website, http://www.state.gov/g/drl. DRL implements the vast majority of its program funds through open competitions.
Q. What countries will be in the next Request for Proposals?
A. For each fiscal year, funds are first appropriated by Congress with specific earmarks and guidance. Then DRL works with elements within State to assess which regions and countries have the greatest need.
Note: See When RFPs Posted.
Q. What reports are required to complete the quarterly financial reporting component?
A. DRL/P strongly encourages each grantee to read its grant agreement carefully. Please review your grant agreement, as some reporting requirements may differ. However, most grantees are required to submit quarterly financial reports. These reports include a Standard Form 269 (SF269) as well as an electronic report (PSC 272) on the Payment Management System.
FINANCIAL REPORTING - FOR ACCOUNTS ENDING W/ P1 OR P2
Electronic 272 PIN: «PIN»
After you enter your PIN and Password, select your PAN, and then select the PSC 272 form to view. You can print your PSC 272 using the print function contained in your Internet browser software. This will complete your PSC 272 processing. If you discover any discrepancies in the PSC 272 data, you should contact your DPM account representative. Please remember that although your disbursement data is being electronically transmitted, you are still required to print, sign and mail in the PSC 272 certification page. THE PSC 272 IS DUE 45 DAYS AFTER THE END OF EACH QUARTER (i.e., February 14th, May 15th, August 14th, and November 14th) and the dates for which the new quarters PSC 272 data availability will be announced through the SmartLink Payment System's bulletin board at the end of each quarter. IF YOU DON'T FILE YOUR REPORT ON OR BEFORE THE DUE DATE, YOUR FUNDS WILL NOT BE DISTRIBUTED.
A. Please see your grant agreement, as some reporting requirements may differ. However, the following are the quarterly report due dates. Reports are due to the GOR and grants officer one month after the end of each fiscal year quarter of activity. DRL/P highly recommends sending a copy of all reports to the appropriate Program Officer. Late reporting will delay any requests for payment on a grant.
Q#1: Oct 1 - Dec 31 Due: Jan 31
Q#2: Jan 1 - Mar 31 Due: Apr 30
Q#3: Apr 1 - Jun 30 Due: Jul 31
Q#4: Jul 1 - Sep 30 Due: Oct 31
A. Reports should be structured around project objectives, should report on activities that support achievement of or progress on project objectives, on outcomes as well as outputs, highlight problems, challenges and success stories and should include evaluation data as appropriate. Quotations from project participants are strongly encouraged and "action photos" are also welcome. Press clips from newspapers or video may also be sent. Also, please include information on next quarter's planned activities, as this information is often used by GORs and program administrators in planning trips to program location. When structuring your quarterly reports, please address the long and short term goals (and the progress you have made on each goal) that are included in your grant agreement.
Note: See Final Quarterly Report.
Q. What is the difference between outputs and outcomes?
A. Outputs are products, services and deliverables. Outcomes are how those outputs impact a grantee's progress, the results of those products, services, and deliverables.
Outputs: products, services, and deliverables.
Project Example: Grantee trained 20 participants in effective campaigning tactics and strategies.
Outcomes: the results of, or the return on, those products, services, and deliverables.
Project Example: Four of the training participants were elected to Parliament and are pressing for reforms on ethics in government.
A. The final quarterly report should include the same information as a quarterly report. As part of the original grant agreement, all grantees must submit in addition to the final quarterly report, a final project summary report. This final project summary report is due 90 days after the grant expires. The summary report should include quantitative and qualitative data relating to the project's goals and objectives, project outputs and overall project impact.
Note: See Quarterly Report.
Q. I am a new grantee of DRL and I am receiving funds through the Payment Management System (PMS) for a non-DRL federal grant. What is the process to be established in PMS?
A. DRL begins the process of establishing a grantee in PMS as soon as the Congressional Notification for the program clears Congress.
Steps to Establishing a New Grantee in PMS
Q. I am a new grantee of DRL and am not receiving any funds through the Payment Management System (PMS) for any federal grants. What is the process to be established in PMS?
A. DRL begins the process of establishing a grantee in PMS as soon as the Congressional Notification clears Congress.
Steps to Establishing a New Grantee in PMS
Q. My proposal was approved and I would like to request my funds to get started. Can I draw all or even half of the funds right away?
A. In accordance with U.S. Department of the Treasury regulations, federal cash must be drawn solely to accommodate your immediate needs on an "as needed" basis only, and must not be held in excess of three (3) working days.
The Department of Treasury issued regulations governing the flow of federal cash to recipient organizations. These regulations are intended to ensure that federal cash is disbursed from U.S. Treasury coffers only when the recipient needs cash for payment purposes. The regulations minimize the negative impact of federal cash withdrawals on the public debt and related financing costs to the Federal Government. At no time, therefore, should cash be requested to cover non-liquidated encumbrances, obligations, or accrued expenditures until actual program disbursements are anticipated.
A. Most of DRL drawdown requests go through the following process for approval which may take up to five business days, though often takes less. First, an email is sent by PMS to DRL/P notifying that a payment request needs approval. DRL/P verifies that there are not any outstanding issues that would prevent approval. Issues that would prevent approval are:
If outstanding issues exist, the grantee is contacted and has 14 days to send Financial and Program Progress reports or to resolve any inconsistencies.
If no outstanding issues exist, DRL approves the request in PMS and enters the drawdown into financial spreadsheets. OES/DRL-EX (DRL's budget office) verifies that sufficient funds exist in the GFMS, confirms the payment and the funds are disbursed.
Q. How long do drawdown requests from PMS usually take?
A. Although no guarantees can be made, requests are typically approved by DRL/P within 24-48 hours from when they are received as long as the grants are in good-standing and no issues arise. Likewise, DRL's executive office typically approves requests between 24-72 hours. Any outstanding reports or holds on accounts will slow down the drawdown request. Regardless, all grantees should expect drawdown requests to take up to five business days.
Note: See Requested Funds PMS.
Q. We have requested funds and know that our financial report is still needed before it can be approved. How long will our request be allowed to sit before being rejected?
A. DRL/P will notify the grantee of any report missing that will hold the drawdown request. The person requesting the drawdown will be the main point of contact for this issue. Fourteen days after notification the grantee will receive an email. If the report is not received before 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on the 14th day after initial notification, the drawdown request will be rejected.
Q. My drawdown request has been rejected. Now what?
A. The rejection of a drawdown request is most often due to missing financial or progress reports. Sometimes special circumstances cause the rejection - for example, the grantee has broken terms of the grant agreement or progress has been unsatisfactory at a level for suspension of activities. If rejected, the requested funds will not be subtracted from a grantee's sub-account in PMS and will be available for future drawdown. However, grantees should not request additional funds until the situation has been resolved, or the request will simply be denied again.
Note: See Quarterly Report Dates.
Q. My grant has an expiration date coming soon. Should I be alarmed?
A. If the grantee expects that more time is necessary to complete the grant objectives, then a No-Cost Amendment/Extension may be in order. A No-Cost Amendment/Extension (NCE) does not help or harm possible considerations for future grants.
A. No Cost Amendments are amendments issued to the original grant award that do not involve awarding additional funds. These could include time extensions, reallocation of funds, and program changes. Some recipients may wish to continue their grant agreement beyond the original expiration date as funds may still be remaining and the project is not yet complete or the original funding has been expended but the project is not yet complete.
A. A No-Cost Extension is useful for those who require more time for a grant to meet the proposal goals. The recipient must notify the Grants Officer and the GOR (and a DRL/P representative, if different from the GOR) in writing prior to the original expiration date (DRL/P recommends at least 6 weeks). In this request, provide the rationale for requesting the extension, the original date of expiration, the revised date, and the grant number. An extension may not be granted merely to utilize funds. Grantees should not expect that a No-Cost Extension will be approved if there is funding available in a grant but the agreed-upon grant period is near completion. AQM has the final say on no-cost extensions and amendments.
A. Drawdown requests may still be made. However, financial and narrative reports are still required until all funds have been exhausted. For all grants, a final project summary report is due 90 days after the grant expires. This final project summary report, which should include quantitative and qualitative data relating to the project's goals and objectives, project outputs and overall project impact, should not be developed until all funds are used and/or the project has ended. Grants that have exceeded the date of expiration cannot receive Cost Amendments, No-Cost Extensions, etc. These grants will be closed once the funding is exhausted and the final project summary report is received. This policy is for DRL grants only. DRL strongly encourages all grantees to drawdown all funds within the 90-day period after the date of expiration of the grant.
Q. I am a current grantee under DRL funding. Although my original budget does not include it, I would like to make a necessary purchase or fund a new activity. Is this okay?
A. The purchase of items or funding of activities outside the grant budget is not allowed. Please contact the Grant Officer Representative to discuss this issue. On occasion, amendments have been made for purchases deemed necessary. Be advised that no action which changes the terms of a grant agreement should be made without the consent of DRL and AQM. If the new purchase/activity will not increase the budget and is approved by DRL and AQM, the grantee will be directed through the No-Cost Amendment process. Only the grants officer in AQM can amend a grant.
Note: See No Cost Extension/Amendment.
Q. I am a current grantee under DRL funding. Although my scope of work under the grant does not include an activity, I would like to enact the activity. Is this okay?
A. No activities outside the scope of a grant can be funded with money of that grant. In order to amend the scope of the grant or include a new activity or budget line item, please contact the Grant Officer Representative immediately. Most often, grant program objectives should not/will not be changed unless a new grant is awarded. Be advised that no action which changes the terms of a grant agreement should be made without the consent of DRL and AQM first. If approved by DRL and AQM, the grantee will be directed through the No-Cost Amendment process.
Q. In order to be considered for a DRL grant, does my organization have to be a registered 501 (c)(3) organization?
A. Yes. DRL funds organizations that are registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organizations and U.S. accredited universities.
Q. Does my organization have to have a Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (NICRA) to apply for DRL funding?
A. No, an organization does not necessarily need a negotiated indirect cost rate agreement to apply for DRL funding. However, in order to claim indirect costs in the budget, the organization must have a NICRA.
Q. What percentage of NICRA am I allowed to apply to my proposal?
A. DRL does not currently restrict the indirect rate that an organization includes in proposals. If an organization has a NICRA, then that rate has to be honored government-wide. However, organizations are invited to cost-share a percentage of their NICRA or indirect cost rate in order to lower the overall cost of their proposal.
Q. I am writing a proposal/Statement of Interest (SOI) and would like to get some feedback. Can I send a draft before the deadline to get feedback?
A. The Program Unit can provide guidance during the SOI process. However, once the SOI process has closed DRL, staff at embassies and DRL staff are not allowed to give feedback on submissions. As part of the review process of proposals, a committee will discuss each proposal and often will provide recommendations or conditions in order to enhance the proposal. If the proposal is recommended for approval, the potential grantee will be notified. If the proposal receives a recommendation for disapproval, the organization will be notified via email and will be provided feedback from a DRL staffer stating why the proposal was not approved by the committee.
Note: See Hearing Back.
Q. I am submitting a proposal/Statement of Interest (SOI) that will exceed the page length limitations. Is this okay?
A. The length limitations must not be exceeded. However, DRL/P does accept proposals that are submitted with appendices or attachments such as a budget narrative.
Q. I am a prospective grantee and have submitted a Statement of Interest (SOI) in response to a Request for Proposals. On what will my SOI be evaluated?
A. RFPs and RSOIs include specific criteria that will be used in the evaluation process. The selection criteria can be found in the proposal submission instructions and/or the RFP/RSOI.
Q. I am an organization and would like to send in a proposal for country X. Country X is not listed in the current Request for Proposals. Is this okay?
A. Unsolicited proposals are considered on a case-by-case basis as time, funding and priorities permit. Organizations may submit unsolicited proposals that do not address past or future RFP regions. It is important to note that the vast majority of all awarded grants are done so through open competitions.
Q. I am a prospective grantee and would like to propose a program that has a multi-country or regional focus. Is this okay?
A. Regional or multi-country program proposals will only be accepted if the Request for Proposals directly specifies a call for such approaches. Most of the RFPs ask for proposals that are country specific, but on occasion regional or multi-country requests are made.
A. Unfortunately, DRL/P is not able to give timeline information on SOIs/full proposals. SOIs and full proposals are reviewed by a DRL Review Panel Committee and the scheduling and decision-making process is not predictable. DRL/P will notify prospective grantees as soon as the information is available. Often DRL/P will contact the applicant with recommendations or conditions if it is recommended to move forward in the process.
Note: See Notification of Outcome.
A. DRL/P uses the contact information supplied by the applicant from www.grants.gov. Please be aware that DRL/P uses both e-mail as well as telephone calls to notify applicants of the review committee's recommendations.
Note: See Hearing Back.