Grants and cooperative agreements are both sources of competitive federal funding, but are managed differently by the awarding agency. The primary difference between a grant and a cooperative agreement is the relative autonomy of the grantee. Once a grant is awarded, the federal agency will typically monitor the activity and require progress reports, but will have little programmatic involvement during the performance of the financially assisted activities. On the other hand, cooperative agreements are the support mechanism used when the federal government plans to remain substantially involved in a proposed project after an award is made. Substantial involvement goes beyond monitoring a recipient’s progress and includes assistance, guidance, coordination, or even joint participation in project activities.
Cooperative agreement opportunities appear to be on the rise. Earlier this year the Obama Administration proposed a rule to reform federal policies relating to grants and cooperative agreements, particularly to strengthen oversight of federal grant dollars to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of federal programs. Therefore, agencies may be anticipating these changes and using cooperative agreements as a way to increase accountability and prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.
Whether you are preparing a grant or cooperative agreement application, take the time to research the funding opportunity announcement and align your proposed project with the government’s program criteria.
Words for Good continues to monitor progress on this proposed legislation. Stay tuned for updates.