Recovery Act - Frequently Asked Questions

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 logoThe American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), or Recovery Act, was signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009. The primary goals of the Recovery Act are to create and retain jobs, and revitalize the economy in the United States.

Following are frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) grants awarded by the Colorado State Forest Service:

General Information | Recipient Reporting | Recovery Home

I — General Information

A. Recovery Act Award Eligibility

B. Considerations for Start-up Businesses or Re-Starts (back to top)

C. Proposal Formatting Requirements (back to top)

D. Review Processes (back to top)

E. Recovery Act Award Dates and Project Period Timelines (back to top)

F. Recovery Act Terms of Award (back to top)

II — Recovery Act Section 1512 Recipient Reporting

A. General Reporting Information (back to top)

B. Data Entry (back to top)

C. Job Creation Estimates (back to top)

D. Data Review (back to top)

I — General Information

A. Recovery Act Award Eligibility (back to top)

Q: Who is eligible to apply for Recovery Act funding through the CSFS grants?

A: Any domestic non-profit or for-profit entity in the United States is eligible to apply. However, the work must be carried out on non-federal lands in Colorado, and the jobs created/retained will be within the state of Colorado.

Q: Are federal agencies eligible to apply? (Added on Sept. 10, 2009)

A: All projects funded by CSFS Recovery Act money must be performed on non-federal land.

Q: Are non-profit agencies eligible to apply for Recovery Act grants? (Added on Sept. 22, 2009)

A:Yes, any domestic non-profit or for-profit entity in the United States is eligible to apply. The primary focus of the Recovery Act grant money is to create and retain jobs.

Q: Recovery Act grants do not allow treatment of weeds, but can we include costs to purchase and spread grass seed for erosion control in the grant proposal? (Added on Sept. 22, 2009)

A: The simple answer is yes if it is: 1) associated with a forest restoration or fuels mitigation project; 2) a component (prescriptive treatment) documented in the project plan; 3) seeding and seed mixture follows seeding practice standards and recommendations of the local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) field office.

Q: Can Recovery Act grants be used for the removal of Russian olives in a riparian forested area along a river corridor if the trees are replaced with native species like cottonwoods?
(Added on Sept. 22, 2009)

A: While Russian olives are classified as a weed species, a proposal that included Russian olive removal and replacement would be considered under forest restoration.

Q: Can I use Recovery Act grant money for forest treatments on my own land?
(Added on Sept. 22, 2009)

A: The primary focus of the Recovery Act is to create and retain jobs. If you feel your project meets all the criteria outlined in one or more of the RFPs, submit a proposal for consideration.

Q: Have you identified areas and landowners that need treatments or do we need to go out and find these areas on our own? (Added on Sept. 22, 2009)

A: You will find information in the Reference Materials on the CSFS web page, including a list of CWPPs and guidelines on development of CWPPs.

Q: Do you expect a significant number of jobs will be created under the CWPP Development RFP? (Added on Sept. 10, 2009)

A: CSFS understands that fewer jobs will be created under the CWPP Development RFP. That is why we allocated less money to this RFP. However, we do think jobs can be created in areas like field data collection.

Q: Does the CWPP Development RFP include revising or udating an existing CWPP?
(Added on Sept. 10, 2009)

A. Yes.

Q: Can a proposal be simultaneously submitted to CSFS for Recovery Act grants and non-Recovery Act grants? (Added on Sept. 10, 2009)

A: Yes, but if either proposal is funded, the non-funded grant application should be withdrawn.

Q: Can a US company, owned by a foreign entity, receive Recovery Act funds?

A: A domestic organization is defined as “A public (including a State or other governmental agency) or private non-profit or for-profit organization that is located in the United States or its territories, is subject to U.S. laws, and assumes legal and financial accountability for awarded funds and for the performance of the grant-supported activities.” Organizations owned by a foreign company are eligible for Recovery Act programs if the applicant organization is located in the U.S. and the work is performed in the state of Colorado by U.S. citizens and/or foreign nationals.

Q: Are foreign organizations eligible to apply for Recovery Act grants?

A: No, applications from foreign institutions are not permitted. In keeping with the intent/purpose of the Recovery Act (in particular, to preserve and create jobs, and to promote economic recovery in the United States), applicants must be domestic organizations, which means they must be located in the 50 states, territories, and possessions of the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, or the District of Columbia.

Q: Where will the projects be located?

A: Projects must be located within Colorado. Landownership eligibility includes state, county, local government, or private lands. The project focus area will be Colorado’s Front Range counties, which include Boulder, Clear Creek, Douglas, El Paso, Gilpin, Jefferson, Larimer, Park, and Teller, as well as Grand County. However, additional projects may be submitted from other areas and will be considered for funding, based on selection criteria. 

Q: Will matching funds be required?

A: The Recovery Act specifically states that “funds provided for activities on State and private lands shall not be subject to matching or cost share requirements.”

Q: Are a certain number of acres required?

A: No target number of acres — maximum or minimum – is required. Jobs creation is the primary focus of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. 

Q: If the intent of the Recovery Act is to create jobs, why do I have to report acres?

A: Creating jobs is the primary goal of the Recovery Act, but other expectations of the grant money received by the CSFS include treating acres to reduce hazardous fuels and protect communities.

Q: Can sub-recipients use Recovery Act funding for work on federal land?

A: No, according to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Wildland Fire Management portion of the Recovery Act “is for State and private forestry activities.”

Q: Are projects already under contract eligible for this grant?

A: No, lands that surround those lands already under contract are eligible, provided that they meet the basic qualifying criteria. 

Q: Is tree planting an acceptable project?

A: Restoration (tree planting) is an appropriate proposal feature. However, remember that ordering and growing trees takes time, and all projects must be completed by Sept. 30, 2011.

Q: Can I apply for a grant for a project on my property?

A: Recovery Act dollars are intended to create jobs. If a project is of sufficient size that jobs will be created and paid directly through Recovery Act funds, it will be considered.

Q: Can the work be done anywhere in Colorado or only in certain areas?

A: This grant program will provide funding to successful sub-recipients on non-federal lands within Colorado. Projects can be proposed anywhere within Colorado; however, projects located within identified and defined wildland-urban interface areas and/or included in a Community Wildfire Protection Plan will receive priority.

B. Considerations for Start-up Businesses or Re-Starts (back to top)

Q: Are start-up businesses or re-start businesses eligible to apply for Recovery Act funding through CSFS?

A: Yes, new and re-start businesses are eligible to apply; however, work must be completed within the two-year grant period, which ends Sept. 30, 2011.

C. Proposal Formatting Requirements (back to top)

Q: If I am only asking for a portion of the total cost of a project because I am receiving other funds or because I expect program income, should I request the full cost of the project, or should I only show the amount being requested in the proposal? (Added on Sept. 22, 2009)

A: You should include clear calculations in the budget that show the amount of funding you are requesting and include explanations that show any program income or other funding sources and how it will be used in the project.

Q: Are proposals limited to a maximum length?

A: No page number, formatting requirement, or limitation exists for CSFS Recovery Act funding proposals. Please include enough information to fully support your organization’s qualifications to perform the work required for each grant. Four hard copies of each proposal must be received in the CSFS office at 3843 West LaPorte Avenue by the deadline stated in each RFP (Sept. 30, 2009).

Q: May I submit my proposal electronically?

A: No, four hard copies of each proposal must be hand-delivered or mailed in time to be received in the CSFS office no later than Sept. 30, 2009. The physical and mailing address is:

Colorado State Forest Service
ATTN: Terrie Craven, ARRA Program Manager
3843 West LaPorte Avenue
5060 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-5060

D. Review Processes (back to top)

Q: What review criteria and scoring system will be used for Recovery Act Funding opportunities?

A: Each RFP has its own scoring system. See individual RFPs posted on the CSFS Recovery Act web page for more information (http://csfs.colostate.edu/pages/recovery.html).

Q: If my company receives a sub-award, will my records be subject to audit?

A: Each contract awarded using Recovery Act funds shall provide that the Comptroller General and his representatives are authorized to examine any records of the contractor or any of its subcontractors, or any state or local agency administering such contract, that directly pertain to, and involve transactions relating to, the contract or subcontract; and to interview any officer or employee of the contractor or any of its subcontractors, or of any state or local government agency administering the contract, regarding such transactions.

Q: Can CSFS employees assist in writing my proposal?

A: CSFS staff will only provide public information and will not write or assist in writing any part of an applicant’s grant proposal or provide opinions. Reference materials that may be helpful in writing proposals can be found on the CSFS Recovery Act web page (http://csfs.colostate.edu/pages/recovery.html).

Q: Will any manpower or equipment be provided?

A: Sub-recipients must provide all necessary equipment, manpower, materials, permits, and permissions necessary to accomplish the work as outlined in the applicant’s proposal. CSFS will not provide any equipment, manpower, materials, or permissions except for permission to work on State Trust Lands.

Q: Will you provide a lower amount of funding than the amount requested?

A: Reduced funding is a possibility. The CSFS reserves the right to decrease the requested amount when considering the number and quality of all proposals received.

E. Recovery Act Award Dates and Project Period Timelines (back to top)

Q: When will Recovery Act award decisions be made?

A: The deadline for receipt of proposals is Sept. 30, 2009.  Projects will be selected no later than Oct. 23, 2009.

Q: When must Recovery Act projects be completed?

A: The Recovery Act project period end date is Sept. 30, 2011.

F. Recovery Act Terms of Award (back to top)

Q: Are there special reporting requirements for Recovery Act programs?

A: Yes, there are special reporting requirements for recipients and sub-recipients of Recovery Act funds (http://www.recovery.gov/?q=content/recipient-reporting). The CSFS must meet quarterly Recovery Act reporting requirements. In order for the CSFS to meet the stringent quarterly deadlines required by the Recovery Act, sub-recipients will be required to report monthly. The mechanism for submitting these reports is still under development, but templates will be provided to each sub-recipient. Details on the information that must be reported are provided in the Data Model posted on the Recovery Act website (www.Recovery.gov).

Q: Can Recovery Act funds be used to purchase equipment?

A: Equipment is defined as an item of property that has an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more and an expected service life of more than one year. Equipment may not be purchased unless prior approval by the CSFS and the USDA Forest Service is received, and an amendment to the grant award is issued.

Q: Can money be spent on projects other than fuels reduction projects within a CWPP? For example, if a CWPP includes as a high priority the installation of a 30,000 gallon cistern, would that be an allowable cost? (Added on Sept. 10, 2009)

A: The intent of the Recovery Act money is the creation and retention of jobs, not the purchase of equipment.

Q: May I issue a press release regarding my sub-award?

A: Any press release must include specific wording and be coordinated with Katherine Timm, CSFS Outreach Division Supervisor. Contact Katherine Timm at katherine.timm@colostate.edu prior to creating any press release or public announcements.

II — Recovery Act Section 1512 Recipient Reporting

A. General Reporting Information (back to top)

Q: To whom do the reporting requirements apply?

A: All Recovery Act-funded sub-recipients must report information in accordance with Section 1512 of the Recovery Act. According to Section 1512 of the Recovery Act, prime recipients are responsible for fulfilling the reporting requirements for both prime and sub-recipients. The CSFS has decided not to delegate reporting to sub-recipients. Instead, the CSFS will collect reporting information monthly and submit reports quarterly on the Recovery Act website, as required.

Q: Will sub-recipients be required to report names and salaries of their five highest-paid officers?

A: In cases where the sub-recipient receives 80 percent or more of its annual gross revenues in Federal awards and $25 million or more in annual gross revenue from Federal awards, the sub-recipient must report the names and total compensation of the five most highly compensated officers of the company.

Q: Will information I report to the Colorado State Forest Service as a result of the Recovery Act reporting requirements be kept confidential?

A: Public access to grant or agreement records shall not be limited, except when such records must be kept confidential and would have been excepted from disclosure pursuant to “Freedom of Information” regulations (5 U.S.C. 552).

Q: How long does the prime recipient have to enter data?

A: The reporting window lasts from the 1st to the 10th of each reporting month. For the upcoming reporting period, this will be from Oct. 1, 2009 to Oct. 10, 2009. In addition, the 11th – 21st day of each reporting month is available for recipients to review the data submitted and make any necessary corrections. On day 22 of the reporting month, all data submitted will be locked and cannot be modified unless unlocked by the awarding Federal agency.

Q: What can applicants and/or sub-recipients do now to prepare for the monthly and quarterly reporting?

A: To prepare for the monthly and quarterly reporting, applicants and/or sub-recipients should:

  • Obtain a DUNS number if you do not already have one
  • Within your organization, determine what systems you will need to access to accommodate this reporting requirement. This could include purchasing systems, accounting systems, human resources/personnel systems, etc. Also, determine who within your organization will be responsible for the reporting requirement. Establish a process to ensure compliance with these reporting requirements.
  • Begin data collection to send to prime recipient

Q: What are the ramifications of non-compliance with the sub-recipient reporting requirements?

A: Non-compliance of this reporting requirement will be treated as failure to comply with the terms and conditions of award and may result in termination of award, debarment, and/or suspension.

Q: Where can I find recordings of the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) Webinars conducted July 20 - July 23, 2009?

A: Recordings of the Webinars are available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/Recovery/WebinarTrainingMaterials/.

Q: How will the reports entered into FederalReporting.gov be made available to the public?

A: On the 30th day of each reporting month, all reports will be made available on www.Recovery.gov and on individual Federal agency recovery websites.

Q: If I am a sub-recipient, am I required to report payments to vendors?

A: All payments to vendors in single amounts equal to or greater than $25,000 must be reported separately. Single payments that are less than $25,000 must be aggregated. Invoices/receipts will be required for reimbursement of all payments.

Q: What is a partnership?

A: Anyone involved in the process of implementing the award is a partner — e.g., landowner, logger, forest workers of all types, consultants, mills, local governments, and non-profit organizations.

Q: Do lands have to be contiguous?

A: No, ideally, we want to see a large block of land being treated, especially in the wildland-urban interface, but it is not required.

B. Data Entry (back to top)

Q: How can a sub-recipient correct a report submission?

A: A sub-recipient may decide, or may be asked by a subsequent reviewer, to make a correction to a submission. Prime recipients will have until the 21st of each reporting month to make corrections. After that date, the data will be locked and cannot be modified by the prime recipient unless the Federal agency unlocks the data. In the event that a correction is noted after the data becomes public on the 30th of the reporting month, prime recipients will use the next quarterly report to make the correction.

C. Job Creation Estimates (back to top)

Q: If a local government submits a proposal and contracts out most of the on-the-ground work, are the contractor’s jobs included in jobs created and retained? Would the local government be considered the sub-recipient, and the contractor the vendor?
(Added Sept. 22, 2009)

A: The local government would be a sub-recipient, and the contractor would also be a sub-recipient because they would be using “Federal funds to carry out a program of the organization as compared to providing goods or services for a program of the pass-through entity.”  The jobs of both entities would be counted.

Q: What is the difference between a job created and a job retained?

A: A job created is a new position created and filled or an existing unfilled position that is filled as a result of the Recovery Act; a job retained is an existing position that would not continue to exist were it not for Recovery Act funding. A job cannot be counted as both created and retained.

Q: Are jobs created and jobs retained reported separately?

A: No, they are combined as a single data element titled “NumberOfJobs” in the Data Dictionary.

Q: Does the prime recipient or each sub-recipient report the job figures?

A: The sub-recipient will report the job figures on the required monthly report to the prime recipient. It is the responsibility of the prime recipient to report jobs as a single, combined number.

Q: How are full-time, part-time, and temporary jobs reported?

A: The estimate of the number of jobs required by the Recovery Act should be expressed as “full-time equivalents” (FTE), which is calculated as total hours worked (including overtime) in jobs created or retained divided by the number of hours in a full-time schedule, as defined by the sub-recipient. Paid time off (vacation, sick, personal, holidays, etc.) should be included in this calculation, but only if the employee is paid for those hours. Cumulative FTE estimates must be reported each calendar quarter. This calculation will be performed by the CSFS based on timesheets submitted each month by the sub-recipients.

Q: Under normal business operations, our organization pays existing employees overtime to do project work. Can we count overtime hours paid to existing employees as job creation or retention? (Added on Sept. 10, 2009)

A: As defined in each RFP, jobs created refers to new positions created and filled, or previously existing unfilled positions that are filled as a result of Recovery Act funding. Jobs retained refers to previously existing filled positions that are retained as a result of Recovery Act funding.

Q: Is the job figure a cumulative figure? Would you expect it to grow each quarter?

A: The job figure is a cumulative figure; however, the number of FTEs may not grow each quarter.

Q: May I pay employees funded by the Recovery Act less so I can hire more employees to provide additional jobs?

A: Section 1606 of the Recovery Act requires that all laborers and mechanics employed by contractors and subcontractors on projects funded directly by or assisted in whole or in part by and through the Federal Government pursuant to the Recovery Act shall be paid wages at rates not less than those prevailing on projects of a character similar in the locality as determined by the Secretary of Labor in accordance with subchapter IV of chapter 31 of title 40, United States Code.

Q: Does the Davis-Bacon Act apply?

A: No, construction projects will not be funded under the CSFS Recovery Act sub-awards.

D. Data Review (back to top)

Q: What is the timing of the review period?

A: From the 11th to the 21st of the reporting month, reports are reviewed by the prime recipients. If a prime recipient notes a mistake in a sub-recipient’s report, they must contact the sub-recipient concerning a correction. The USFS can see the data at this time and, due to the limited time available for agency review, may actually begin a preliminary review prior to the 21st. Beginning on day 22 of the reporting month, the reports are locked and no further changes can be made; the USFS has 7 days to conduct their review. If a change is needed during this period, the CSFS will receive a notification that describes the discrepancy. The USFS will unlock the report so it can be changed by the prime recipient. Any changes must be transmitted by the 29th day of the month. On day 30 of the reporting month, regardless of the review status, the reports are published on www.Recovery.gov.

Q: What will the USFS look for during their review of recipient reports?

A: The USFS will initially review for material omissions and significant errors as defined in the OMB guidance document. However, we expect this to be an evolving process and the CSFS will adapt our level of review as time and experience suggests.

Q: What is the definition of a material omission?

A: Material omissions are defined as those instances where required data is not reported or reported information is not otherwise responsive to the data request, and such reporting gaps result in significant risk that the public will be misled or confused by the recipient report in question. For example, a recipient required to report a description of a purchase made from a vendor may not provide sufficient detail in the description for the reader to derive the nature of the purchase.

Q: What is the definition of a significant reporting error?

A: Significant reporting errors are defined as those instances where required data is not reported accurately and such erroneous reporting results in significant risk that the public will be misled or confused by the recipient report in question. An example of this would be a recipient, or sub-recipient, who reports expenditures in excess of the amount awarded by the Federal funding agency.

Q: Who is responsible for the quality of data submitted under Section 1512 of the Recovery Act?

A: Prime recipients, as owners of the data submitted, have primary responsibility for the quality of the information submitted. Sub-recipients share in this responsibility. Agencies that fund Recovery Act projects and activities provide a layer of oversight that augments recipient data quality. Oversight authorities including the Office of Management and Budget, the Recovery Board, and Federal agency Inspectors General also play a role in data quality. The general public and non-governmental entities interested in “good government” can help with data quality, as well, by highlighting problems for correction.

Q: Is the USFS required to certify or approve data for publication on Recovery.gov or agency websites?

A: No, the USFS is required to run a data quality review process consistent with Sections 3 and 4 of the OMB guidance document. These actions are expected to occur prior to the 30th day of the reporting month. Reports will be posted on the 30th day after the end of the quarter, regardless of the outcome of USFS data-quality review efforts.

Q: How will issues identified under the data quality reviews be communicated to the public?

A: Federal agencies will be required to classify submitted data using the following three categories:

  • Not Reviewed by agency
  • Reviewed by agency, no material omissions or significant reporting errors identified
  • Reviewed by agency, material omissions or significant reporting errors identified

Within the third category, to the extent the agency identifies any data that it has reason to believe is false or misleading or that has not been corrected by the recipient or sub-recipient, the Federal agency must provide such findings to recoveryupdates@gsa.gov so that the Recovery Board can make such instances public on the website www.Recovery.gov. The system will automatically default to the first category of “Not reviewed by agency” if an agency has not chosen one of the above three categories before the 29th day of the process.

Q: Who can I contact for additional information about CSFS Recovery Act grants?

A: For general questions about grants available through the Colorado State Forest Service, contact Terrie Craven, ARRA Program Manager, terrie.craven@colostate.edu. For press release or media information, contact Katherine Timm, Outreach Division Supervisor, katherine.timm@colostate.edu.

 

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