Grants Management Policy 08-04 states that Minnesota state agencies must use a written grant contract agreement or grant application with a corresponding grant award notification for all grants made by the agency.
It is essential to write clear duties and expectations of the grantee into the grant contract agreement or grant application with a corresponding grant award notification.
Clear writing and using plain language:
- Ensures that the parties to the grant clearly understand the terms of the grant contract agreement or grant application with a corresponding grant award notification.
- This includes the minimum requirements and assurances that come with accepting the terms of the grant which include (but are not limited to) duties, quality and time of performance, terms of payment, etc.
- Sets up the granting agency, the grant applicants, and the grantees for success.
- Helps avoid potential disputes
- May result in failure to obtain the services the agency assumed were described in the grant.
- Can create difficulty in grantees understanding what duties need to be performed
- Can lead to unnecessary amendments
The written grant contract agreement or grant application with a corresponding grant award notification is generally the only thing that counts in a dispute over whether the grantee has fulfilled their legal obligation.
In a legal action, any ambiguity will be interpreted against the party in the more powerful position; in most cases the agency, so a provision that can be interpreted against the agency most likely will be. Dialogue that takes place between the granting agency and the grantee is useful for technical assistance and moving down a path toward shared understanding. However, verbal agreements do not take the place and do not hold the same weight as what is in writing. If it is not written in the grant contract agreement or grant application with a corresponding grant award notification, it is not enforceable.
Before taking the next steps described below for clear drafting, the granting agency must first ensure that it has statutory authority to enter into and externally administer grants.
Suggestions for clear drafting
The granting agency should start with these questions when beginning to draft either a grant contract agreement or grant application with a corresponding grant award notification:
- Who, What, When, Where, and How much?
- What is the purpose of the grant?
- What change(s) will happen as a result of this investment?
Answering these questions with specific information helps establish the broad parameters of the grant.
Thinking through the following list of topics will help granting agencies receive the maximum benefit from the grant by communicating clear expectations:
Project, Reporting, Fiscal and Administrative components:
- List outcomes, outputs, work product(s), preferred or required qualifications of the person(s) performing the work, period of performance, reporting, monitoring and financial reconciliation, etc.
- Specifically identify how grant payments will be made to the grantee.
- Describe how grant performance will be measured, monitored, and evaluated
- Describe grantee's duties simply and use plain language
- Tip: Ensure what’s proposed in work plan/application clearly aligns and ties directly to the purpose of the grant and the grant appropriation.
- Incorporate all attachments to the grant contract agreement properly.
- Label attachments in the chronological order referenced in the grant contract agreement; that is, the first attachment mentioned should be Attachment A, the second, Attachment B, etc.
- Attachments must actually be attached to each copy of the grant agreement.
- Tip: Incorporate attachments by reference within the grant contract agreement. Use plain language to ensure information is clear and accessible to both the grantor and the grantee.
- All numerical computations are accurate.
- Every blank in the grant contract agreement is filled in.
- All instructions are deleted from the grant contract agreement, there is proper pagination, etc.
- The grant contract agreement or grant application with a corresponding grant award notification is consistent with the limits and purposes of the appropriation from which payments are to be made.
Sample Grant Contract Agreements and Grant application with a corresponding Grant Award notification are available on the Policies, Statutes and Forms page under the Forms and FAQs Tab.
- The grant contract agreement, sample grant application with assurances and sample grant award notice templates meet the minimum requirements for executive branch granting agencies for broad compliance with Minn. Stat. §16B.97 and Minn. Stat. §16B.98.
- Enterprise grant-makers must ensure that all grant contract agreements and grant application with corresponding grant award notification they execute meet the minimum requirements these templates provide.
- Understanding that grant programs and specific grant appropriations can contain unique requirements, granting agencies may need to add terms and conditions to grant contract agreements and grant application with corresponding grant award notification which is within their authority per Minn. Stat. §16B.98 Subd. 6.
- Agencies are strongly encouraged to reach out to OGM and their Assistant Attorney General if/when considering removing or substantially altering any of the template language.