[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 208 (Thursday, October 27, 2011)]
[Pages 66721-66723]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-27878]



Administration for Children and Families

New Policies and Procedural Requirements for the Electronic 
Submission of Discretionary Grant Applications

AGENCY: Division of Grants Policy, Office of Administration, ACF, HHS.

ACTION: Notice of new policies and procedural requirements for the 
electronic submission of discretionary grant applications.


    Overview Information: The Deputy Assistant Secretary for 
Administration, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), 
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announces new policies 
and procedural requirements for the electronic submission of 
discretionary grant applications through the government-wide grants 
application site, http://www.Grants.gov and through http://www.GrantSolutions.gov; effective January 1, 2012.

DATES: Submit written or electronic comments on or before December 27, 

ADDRESSES: Submit written or electronic comments concerning this notice 
to Karen Shields, Grants Policy Specialist, Department of Health and 
Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Division of 
Grants Policy, 370 L'Enfant Promenade, SW., Aerospace Building, 6th 
Floor East, Washington, DC 20447. E-mail address: 
[email protected]. Delays may occur in mail delivery to Federal 
offices; therefore, a copy of comments should be faxed to (202) 205-
6400. Comments will be available for inspection by members of the 
public at the Office of Administration, Division of Grants Policy, 901 
D Street, SW., Washington, DC 20447.
SUMMARY: The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), an 
Operating Division of HHS, announces the opportunity for public comment 
on its initial transition plan to implement required electronic 
submission of Federal discretionary grant applications and official 
grant file documents. In accordance with e-Government initiatives 
mandated by the Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act 
of 1999, Public Law 106-107, ACF officially acknowledges that 
electronically generated and/or stored documents are recognized 
equivalents of an official paper grant file. Recognizing the 
equivalency of such documents eliminates duplicative effort and 
administrative burden for Federal grant applicants, recipients, and the 
awarding agency, by facilitating the submission and storage of official 
grant files. The ACF transition plan will begin with the required 
electronic submission of discretionary grant applications.
    ACF has previously afforded applicants and recipients the option of 
submitting Federal discretionary grant applications in both electronic 
and paper formats. This notice announces that during the initial 
transition phase and thereafter, discretionary grant applicants and 
recipients are now required to submit competing, and non-competing 
continuation, grant applications electronically. The electronic portals 
used to support this effort are http://www.Grants.gov and http://www.GrantSolutions.gov.

Electronic Submission of Discretionary Grant Applications

     Competing Grant Applications--ACF will continue to post 
synopses of planned discretionary Funding Opportunity Announcements 
(FOAs) at the HHS Grants Forecast Web site http://www.hhs.gov/grantsforecast/and synopses of published FOAs on http://www.Grants.gov. 
Applicants will continue to use http://www.Grants.gov for their 
application submissions for discretionary awards. Full ACF FOAs are 
published at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/grants/index.html.
     Non-Competing Continuation Grant Applications--Guidance 
will be provided by ACF directly to existing

[[Page 66722]]

grantees on the appropriate electronic system that will allow them to 
submit non-competing continuation applications to either http://www.Grants.gov or http://www.GrantSolutions.gov.

Universal Identifier (DUNS), CCR Registration, and Registration at 

    Applicants that have not already done so should prepare for this 
transition by first obtaining a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) 
number at http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform and then registering with the 
Central Contractor Registration (CCR) at http://www.ccr.gov, a 
requirement that became mandatory for all applicants, grantees, and 
first-tier subawardees on October 1, 2010. Submission of electronic 
applications to http://www.Grants.gov by applicants not registered with 
the CCR will be rejected by that system.

About the Universal Identifier (DUNS Number) and Central Contractor 
Registration (CCR)

    On September 14, 2010, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 
released the final version of a new award term 2 CFR Part 25, Universal 
Identifier and Central Contractor Registration (75 FR 55671). It 
codified two existing guidance documents relating to registration with 
the Central Contractor Registry (CCR) and obtaining a Dun & Bradstreet 
Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number.
    The DUNS/CCR award term in 2 CFR Part 25 requires recipients to 
maintain the currency of their CCR registration, until they submit 
their final required financial report under an award, or until they 
receive final payment, whichever is later. CCR registration must be 
updated annually and is required of all applicants using the Grants.gov 

About www.Grants.gov

    Applicants can immediately start searching the FIND section of 
http://www.Grants.gov for Federal grant opportunities. Applicants can 
also register at http://www.Grants.gov to receive automatic email 
notifications of new grant opportunities as they are posted. To prepare 
to use the APPLY function at http://www.Grants.gov, ACF strongly 
recommends that applicants immediately initiate and complete the ``Get 
Started'' steps to register with Grants.gov at http://www.grants.gov/applicants/get_registered.jsp. Although the steps can be completed 
within a few days in many cases, we strongly advise against waiting 
until a specific funding opportunity is announced before initiating the 
Grants.gov registration process to avoid unexpected delays that could 
result in the rejection of your application.
    Organizations that are already registered at Grants.gov, please 
note that accounts that are inactive for one calendar year will be 

    Please Note: Applicant passwords at Grants.gov now expire every 
90 days. Registered applicants will receive two email notifications 
before their passwords expire. There is now an option for applicants 
to request a system-generated password through an email message. 
Accounts will lock for 15 minutes if the user provides the wrong 
password three consecutive times within a five-minute period.

Change in Submission Time for Electronically Submitted Discretionary 
Grant Applications

    With the implementation of electronic submission of discretionary 
grant applications via Grants.gov, ACF will extend the timeframe for 
application receipt from 4:30 p.m., E.T., to 11:59 p.m., E.T. 
Applications received at or after 12 a.m., E.T., of the day following 
the application due date will be designated as late and will be 
disqualified from competition. Proof of receipt (date and time stamp) 
is provided by the Grants.gov system.
    The cutoff for receipt of hard copy/paper applications by those 
applicants that have obtained a waiver (see the Exceptions to the 
Electronic Submission Requirement and Waivers section of this notice) 
will remain at 4:30 p.m., E.T.

Exceptions to the Electronic Submission Requirement and Waivers

    ACF recognizes that segments of the applicant community may have 
limited or no Internet access, and/or limited computer capacity, which 
may prohibit them from uploading large files to the Internet at http://www.Grants.gov and/or http://www.GrantSolutions.gov. To accommodate 
such applicants, ACF is instituting a waiver procedure, on a case-by-
case basis, that will allow such applicants to submit hard copy, paper 
grant applications by hand-delivery, applicant courier, overnight/
express mail couriers, or other representatives of the applicant.
    Applicants will be required to submit a written statement to ACF 
that the applicant qualifies for a waiver under one of these grounds: 
Lack of Internet access; or limited computer capacity that prevents the 
uploading of large files to the Internet. The written statement must be 
sent to the Grants Management Contact listed in Section VII. in all 
published discretionary FOAs, and must include the FOA Title, Funding 
Opportunity Number (FON), the listed Catalog of Federal Domestic 
Assistance (CFDA) number and the reason for which the applicant is 
requesting a waiver. Waiver requests may be submitted by mail or by 
email. The request must be received by ACF no later than two weeks 
before the application due date, that is, 14 calendar days prior to the 
application due date listed in the FOA, or if the fourteenth calendar 
day falls on a weekend or Federal holiday, the next Federal business 
day following the Federal holiday. Complete instructions on the waiver 
option will appear in all published FOAs announcing the availability of 
discretionary grants.
    Additionally, on a case-by-case basis, ACF will consider requests 
to accept hard copy, paper submissions of grant applications when 
circumstances such as natural disasters occur (floods, hurricanes, 
etc.); or when there are widespread disruptions of mail service; or in 
other rare cases that would prevent electronic submission of the 
    In all cases, the decision to allow a waiver to accept submission 
of hard copy, paper applications will rest with the Grants Management 
Officer listed in Section VII of each discretionary FOA and/or Notice 
of Award (NOA).
    Hard copy/paper applications for new awards, submitted by 
applicants without prior approval of a waiver within the required 
timeframe, will be considered non-responsive and will be disqualified 
from competition and objective review. The waiver process will not 
apply to applications for non-competing continuation grants.

Records Retention

    The HHS regulations at 45 CFR 92.42 (State, Local, and Tribal 
Governments) and 45 CFR 74.53 (Institutions of Higher Education, 
Hospitals, Other Nonprofit Organizations, and Commercial Organizations) 
pertaining to the retrieval, retention, disposition and destruction of 
official grant files remain in effect for electronically submitted 

Future Implementation

    This guidance represents the initial phase of ACF's transition to 
required electronic submission of all official grant documents. ACF 
will continue to communicate transition plans for other documents as 
they evolve and will provide the applicant and recipient communities, 
and the general public, with sufficient notice of implementation 
details. In general, notices will be published in the Federal Register 
at least 60 days before the implementation becomes effective.

[[Page 66723]]

Specialist, Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for 
Children and Families, OA/Division of Grants Policy, 370 L'Enfant 
Promenade, SW., Aerospace Building, 6th Floor East, Washington, DC 
20447. Email: [email protected]. Fax: (202) 205-6400.

    Dated: October 21, 2011.
Jason Donaldson,
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration, Administration for 
Children and Families.
[FR Doc. 2011-27878 Filed 10-26-11; 8:45 am]