NB_300_21_5 - NB 300-21-5 LTP- Procedures to Release Preliminary Obligations for ACEP-WRE, EWPP-FPE, and HFRP Easement Acquisition and Restoration Related Costs when Final Contract Mechanisms are Ready for Obligation
NB 300-21-5 LTP- Procedures to Release Preliminary Obligations for ACEP-WRE, EWPP-FPE, and HFRP Easement Acquisition and Restoration Related Costs when Final Contract Mechanisms are Ready for Obligation
National Bulletin: 300-21-5      Date: November 4, 2020
Subject: LTP- Procedures to Release Preliminary Obligations for ACEP-WRE, EWPP-FPE, and HFRP Easement Acquisition and Restoration Related Costs when Final Contract Mechanisms are Ready for Obligation  


 
Purpose.  To provide States and the Easement Acquisitions Branch (EAB) guidance on the process to release preliminary obligations for easement acquisition and restoration when final contract mechanisms such as Cooperative Agreements, Federal Contracts, and Landowner Conservation Program Contracts are ready for obligation.     
 
Expiration Date.  September 30, 2021
 

Background.  In FY 2020, States and EAB utilized a new process for completing preliminary obligations for easement acquisition and restoration activities associated with an easement or 30-year contract enrollment. Preliminary obligations were documented on the Supplement for the Preliminary Obligation of Easement and 30-Year Contract Supporting Related Costs for Agricultural Conservation Easement Program-Wetland Reserve Easement (ACEP-WRE), Emergency Watershed Protection Program – Floodplain Easement (EWPP-FPE), and Healthy Forest Reserve Program (HFRP) (herein referred to as Supplement).

The process of obligating funds preliminarily is based on the need to secure all funding required to acquire and restore the enrolled easement or 30-year contract. The process to “convert” the preliminary obligation to the final obligation via any number of contract mechanisms for the required activities is described in this guidance.        

 
Explanation.  In FY 2021, there will be two methods of releasing funds for final obligations that were obligated preliminarily via the Supplement in FY 2020: Mass release of funds and case-by-case State/EAB requested release of funds. Mass release of funds will be completed by National Headquarters staff for all legal boundary surveys obligated via the Supplement in FY 2020. Case-by-case State/EAB requested release of preliminary obligations to final contracting mechanisms (Landowner Contracts, Cooperative/Contribution Agreements, or Federal Contract) will be completed using the Amendment for the Supplement to the Enrollment Agreement for the Preliminary Obligation of Acquisition-Related and Restoration Costs (Preliminary Obligation Supplement) for ACEP-WRE, HFRP, and EWPP-FPE (herein referred to as the Amendment). The Amendment was originally distributed via NB 300-20-36 and has been updated as Attachment A to this guidance. The Amendment attached to this bulletin supersedes the previously distributed Amendment.

Mass release of funds that were obligated in FY 2020 via the Supplement specifically for legal boundary surveys will be completed by National Headquarters staff working with Farm Production and Conservation Business Center (FBC) staff. Mass release of survey funds will be completed no later than November 15th. Once released, States/EAB must requisition legal boundary surveys through the State/EAB selected contract mechanism by no later than January 15, 2021. If States/EAB need the funds sooner for making final obligations for procuring legal boundary surveys, please follow the guidance for case-by-case State/EAB requests as contained in this bulletin. If States/EAB have requested release of funds for legal boundary surveys and entered requisitions into IAS prior to publication of this bulletin they may continue to complete those actions according to prior approved methods.

Case-by-case release of funds from the Supplement to the final contract mechanism will work just as the Supplement for restoration funds has worked in the past. States/EAB will provide the Amendment as the documentation of funds availability when requesting the final obligation through the contract mechanism chosen by the State/EAB. For example, if procuring closing services through a federal contract, submit the Amendment and Supplement to the FBC Payment Operations Section (FBC POS) at least at least five days prior to submitting a requisition in IAS. The funds will be released by the FBC POS easement team and will then be available for use and to be requisitioned against in IAS.
Attachment B contains specific instructions for each activity and the various contracting mechanisms used by States/EAB as well as information on requesting additional funds and use of released funds that are not required for the final obligation.

States must not execute a final contract mechanism until the preliminary obligation has been released, doing so would result in a double obligation of funds for the same activity. When funds are released for use on the final contract mechanisms, States/EAB will not create unique WBS’s with a XX21 budget period. Instead, they will use the exact same unique WBS (XX20 budget period) used for obligating funds via the preliminary obligation Supplement in FY2020 for obligation of the final contract mechanisms, regardless of when and how the final contract mechanisms are obligated.     
 
Contact.   If you have questions or concerns regarding this national bulletin, contact Sara Thompson, by phone at (202) 823-2776, or by email at sara.thompson@usda.gov.
 
 

 /s/

JIMMY BRAMBLETT
Deputy Chief for Programs   

 
 

Attachment A

Attachment B

Attachment C

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