NB_440_22_2 - NB 440-22-2 PGM – Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 2014 Farm Bill RCPP Project Evaluation Process
NB 440-22-2 PGM – Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 2014 Farm Bill RCPP Project Evaluation Process
National Bulletin: 440-22-2 Date: October 8, 2021
Subject: PGM – Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 2014 Farm Bill RCPP Project Evaluation Process


 
Purpose.  To provide FY 2022 guidance on the 2014 Farm Bill Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) National project evaluation process.   
 
Expiration Date.  September 30, 2022
 
Background.  The 2018 USDA Office of Inspector General (OIG) RCPP audit requires NRCS to develop and implement a formal oversight process to assess compliance with RCPP guidance, policies, and procedures. OIG auditors found inconsistent implementation of RCPP policies and procedures by State office personnel managing and administering 2014 Farm Bill RCPP projects.
 

Explanation.  The guidance in this bulletin establishes a formal National project evaluation process for RCPP. Launching for the first time in FY 2022, the FY 2022 project evaluations will only review active and completed 2014 Farm Bill projects. The review will specifically emphasize active projects awarded in FY 2016-2018 and a small number of completed 2014 Farm Bill projects to identify opportunities for improving project closeout procedures and management of covered program contracts and easements that are in effect beyond the term of the project under which they were entered.

The intent of this new project evaluation process is to improve State adherence to program policy and procedures, and to identify State project management and administration training opportunities.

The Financial Assistance Programs Division (FAPD) Projects Branch, working alongside State RCPP Coordinators, will conduct the required project evaluations. The FAPD Projects Branch will select at least four projects (one project per NRCS Region) for evaluation in FY 2022. The States selected for one of the four project evaluations will select a second project in their State for evaluation. Therefore, two projects will be evaluated in each selected State, one selected by the FPAD Projects Branch and one selected by the State.

FAPD will notify the selected States. The notification will identify the FAPD Projects Branch’s selected project for evaluation, provide a deadline for the State to submit the required project documents, and notify the State to identify a second project for evaluation.

For all selected projects, the lead State RCPP coordinator must upload the following documents into the appropriate project folder on the RCPP Coordinators SharePoint site. Project folders are located on the Project Evaluations page within the Coordinators SharePoint site.

Required Documentation:

  • Current Partnership Agreement Cooperative Agreement or Memorandum of Agreement (active or completed)

  • If partnership agreement has been amended, a copy of:

    • Project proposal

    • Original project agreement

    • Each executed partnership agreement amendment, including any amendments by exchange of correspondence or memorandum to the file

    • RCPP approved amendment checklist associated with each amendment, however the amendment was effected

  • Copy of approved adjustments of terms (AOT) as recorded in the RCPP portal and evidence of State’s implementation method

  • For all partnership agreements (Cooperative Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MOU)):

    • All required partner performance reports (see agreement terms for specific requirements)

    • Available records on delivered partner contributions (including contribution related excerpts of partner performance report excerpts, contributions reported in partner annual (NRCS Programs Portal)), reports, and any other records (including Federal Financial Report SF-425(s), Requests for Advance or Reimbursement SF-270(s), or any other partner provided documentation) that document partner contributions

    • If the project is no longer active, a copy of the “Completion Questionnaire” as recorded in the NRCS Programs Portal

Note: If State review of project files indicate incomplete records, the file may be updated with additional documentation prior to the upload deadline. If the RCPP review indicates deficiencies, RCPP Team will work with state to determine necessity of additional corrective actions.

  • For projects with partner Technical Assistance (TA) payments tied to the partnership agreement:

    • Partner authorized certifying official signed Form SF-425(s)

    • Partner authorized certifying official signed Form SF-270(s)

    • Brief description of the State’s management of partner TA deliverables to ensure TA payments were both:

-- Only provided for eligible work

-- Supported by auditable expense records documenting that partner  
    did not receive payment for any administrative expenses

  • Brief description of how State tracks NRCS TA expenditures and any specific controls used to ensure that NRCS-use TA is only charged for project activities

  • Annual reports

  • List of all FA obligations

FAPD Projects Branch staff will use the RCPP Program Evaluation Worksheet (Attachment A) to document project evaluation findings for ongoing program implementation improvement. States are encouraged to review the RCPP Program Evaluation Worksheet to familiarize themselves with the goals and objectives of the evaluation process.

FAPD Projects Branch staff will prepare a summary report for each State that identifies opportunities for improved program management and administration. A closeout meeting between the FAPD Director and State Conservationist will complete the evaluation process.

This National project evaluation process is an internal check and does not replace compliance audits carried out by the FPAC Business Center’s Performance, Accountability, and Risk Division.

 

Contact.  Please direct questions on this bulletin to RCPP@usda.gov.

 
 


 /s/

JIMMY BRAMBLETT
Deputy Chief for Programs
      

 

 Attachment A - RCPP Program Evaluation Worksheet 

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