The Department of Administration’s Office of Grants Management (OGM) is charged by Minnesota Statutes 16B.97 to standardize, streamline, and improve state grant-making practices. A tool used to accomplish this mission are 13 comprehensive grants management policies that apply to all Executive Branch agencies, boards, commissions, councils, authorities, and task forces.
As a general principle, grants distributed by an agency should be done in a fair and equitable manner, which is usually done through some form of public notice. Each state agency may differ in how it notifies the public and solicits requests for proposals (RFP), but the agency should have a defined process that ensures a fair and equitable distribution. Per Grants Management Policy 08-03, competitive grant opportunities shall be publicized as broadly as possible and at a minimum, must be posted on the granting agency’s website. Agencies should pursue additional methods and identify multiple ways to share grant request for proposals or requests for applications to reach potential applicants and parts of the state that have not historically participated in the grant application process. This can include targeting communities and conducting outreach to culturally specific and community based organizations.
Minnesota Statutes 15.994 requires state agencies with Internet sites to provide information on grants available through the agency and are encouraged to provide a link to the grant application under Minnesota Statutes 16E.20. In addition, state agencies are encouraged to develop systems for electronic grant application submission.
Examples of appropriate public notice:
The RFP or grant application should contain the following essential elements:
If you have any questions about public notice, ask your Agency Contract Coordinator, the Office of Grants Management, or Assistant Attorney General.
There are statutory provisions for conflict of interest that apply to processes and the roles of individuals involved in the grant award and grant administration process; including state and nonstate employees. Relevant statutes are Minnesota Statutes 10A.07, 15.054, 15.43, 16B.98 Subd 2-3,16C.04, 43A.38, 471.87
Executive branch agencies, boards, councils, and task forces may have agency additional and unique statutes, rules, and policies related to conflict of interest that are specific to their work and in addition to the broader statutes referenced above.
Please reference these key principles with state grant-making and grant administration:
*The Conflict of Interest Policy for State Grant-Making has been updated and revised as of 8/1/20 for implementation beginning 1/1/21.
The revised policy:
Executive branch agencies, boards, councils, and task forces that are involved in state grant-making and grant administration can use the transition period between August – December 2020 to review the policy and prepare for implementation. OGM will be providing updated training, tools, and resources to support implementation. Please check OGM’s training website in September 2020 for more information.
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.
Grants Management Policy 08-08 requires that state agencies specify the method and schedule of payments for each grant in the grant agreement. Reimbursement is the preferred method for making grant payments. Although they are not preferred, advance payments on grants may be allowed in certain situations. Advance payments on grants shall be negotiated between the state agency and grantee on a case by case basis.
Please review Grants Management Policy 08-08 for additional information.
When entering the grants into the State wide Integrated Financial Tools (SWIFT) system agencies should follow Minnesota Management and Budget’s guidance for properly coding grant payments to the correct expenditure object code and the correct accounting period.
Please take into account that the prompt payment statute, Minnesota Statutes Section 16A.124, subdivision 3, applies to grants.
Any amendments to the terms of the grant contract agreement or grant award notification must be made according to a fully executed amendment. A memo to the grantee indicating changes is not legally binding and is not sufficient to make the changes. Please see Grants Management Policy 08-12 for additional information on grant amendments.
It’s important that the amendment is in place before the grant contract agreement or grant award notification expires. This will avoid any liability that may occur for not having an agreement in place when the grantee is working.
Grant contract agreements or grant award notifications must be amended when there is a change in the amount of the grant or the time period of the grant.
Grant contract agreements or grant award notifications may be amended only when the purpose of the amendment is similar to the purpose of the grant contract agreement or grant award notification and when the grantee duties are within the scope of the original request for proposal, notice of grant opportunity or grant application.
The amendment should:
Grant contract agreement attachments, exhibits, approved grant application materials with corresponding grant award notices may also be revised as part of a grant amendment.
State granting agencies have discretion on how grant contract agreements are structured with incorporating work plans and budgets as attachments to the grant.
All grant contract agreement amendments should be drafted using the format of the sample amendment, available on the Policies, Statutes and Forms page.
It is the responsibility of the granting authority to monitor its grantees’ performance. Grants Management Policy 08-10 states that agencies must conduct at least one monitoring visit per grant period on all state grants over $50,000 and at least annual monitoring visits on grants over $250,000. In addition, agencies must conduct a financial reconciliation of grantees’ expenditures on grants over $50,000.
Agencies typically utilize a combination of monitoring techniques to effectively monitor their grantees. The following are various examples of how an agency may monitor performance.
Grant Overview: Procedures Checklist: This checklist may serve as a guide as you move through the approval process.