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Historical Information

General Information
Abbreviations and Acronyms

CFR Code of Federal Regulations
CFDA Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
F&A Facilities and Administrative Costs
FSR Financial Status Report
FY Fiscal Year
GAO General Accounting Office
GMO Grants Management Officer
GMS Grants Management Specialist
IG Inspector General
OMB Office of Management and Budget
PO Project Officer
R&D Research and Development
RFA Request for Applications
RFIP Request for Initial Proposals
USC United States Code

Types of Funding Instruments

Using a variety of funding instruments, including contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements, the EPA accomplishes much of its mission through services provided by non-Federal entities. Each instrument has a specific purpose and application, thus creating different relationships between the parties.

The Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act of 1977 requires Federal

agencies to distinguish procurement relationships from assistance relationships. Although the Act does not dictate any specific terms and conditions that should be placed on contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements, it does require that the choice and use of these legal instruments reflect the type of relationship expected between the Federal and non-Federal parties.

Grants and Cooperative Agreements

In contrast to contracts, grants and cooperative agreements are Federal financial assistance mechanisms used to support and stimulate a public purpose. Assistance relationships are established when the principal purpose of the transaction is to transfer money, property, services, or anything of value to a recipient to accomplish a public purpose or to stimulate a particular area of interest authorized by law. The two types of assistance mechanisms used by the EPA are the grant and the cooperative agreement:

In the following pages of this publication, the word "grant" is used to indicate an assistance mechanism and should be construed to include cooperative agreements as well.

Grant Authorities

The Constitution

The requirements to which grants are subject have their roots in a number of specific sources or authorities, the broadest of which is the U.S. Constitution. Congress has the authority to impose conditions upon the receipt of Federal assistance funds. The cornerstone of Congress' authority in the grants area is Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, referred to as the Spending Power Clause, which provides that "...Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and to provide for the…general welfare of the United States…."

Thus, Congress can enact statutes authorizing Federal agencies to award grants and impose reasonable conditions on the receipt of Federal assistance funds.

Laws that authorize the formulation of regulations for grant programs are ultimately based on constitutional provisions. For example, the EPA grant appeals procedures can be traced to the due process principles outlined in the Constitution under the Fifth Amendment. Another example is the grant application form, which contains provisions relating to civil rights, handicapped individuals, and age and sex discrimination. These are all extensions of constitutional requirements for equal protection under the law covered in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.


The next broad level of Federal grant lawmaking is the enactment of specific laws by Congress. Two of the most general, but nonetheless most important, are authorizing legislation and appropriation legislation. The authority to award grants is contained in the basic substantive legislation establishing a Federal program. Such legislation may authorize program expenditures for a specific or indefinite number of years. Subsequent to the enactment of authorizing legislation, Congress generally enacts appropriation laws permitting funds to be obligated for a specific program. Appropriation bills begin in the House of Representatives and then are acted upon by the Senate. Through the appropriation process, Congress greatly influences both program and grants administration decisions by controlling the amount of funds authorized annually, and by setting conditions on the use of funds.


Because the language of many laws is vague, Federal agencies often need to publish regulations to clarify the details. A "rule" or "regulation" is a formal document issued by a Federal agency that has general or particular applicability and legal effect. Compliance with Federal regulations and statutes must be taken seriously. When finalized, regulations have the full force and effect of law.

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) (http://www.gpoaccess.gov/cfr/index.html) Exit Disclaimer, a codification of permanent rules published in the Federal Register, contains the regulations for reviewing and administering EPA grants. Program regulations expand on program legislation to provide additional guidance regarding program requirements and how the program will be managed. (Some programs have guidelines instead of, or in addition to, regulations.) Three of the most important sections pertaining to EPA grants are:

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| New National Term on Suspension and Debarment | Tips On Writing a Grant Proposal | Sample Indirect Cost Proposal Format For Nonprofit Organizations | EPA Organization Chart | Grant Award Activity Summary | Historical Information | OMB Circulars | Cross-Cutting Public Policies | Lobbying and Litigation | The Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act of 1977 | Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance | Competition for Assistance Agreements | MBE/WBE Utilization | Overview of the Award Document and Terms and Conditions | Use of a Universal Identifier by Grant Applicants | Responsibilities - Award Phase | Assistance Agreement Payment Process | Purchasing Supplies, Equipment and Services Under EPA Grants | Indirect Costs | Best Practices Guide for Conferences | Glossary | Accessibility | Return to the Grants and Debarment Home Page |

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