NB_440_22_28 - NB 440-22-28 PGM - Closeout of 2014 Farm Bill Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP14) Partnership Agreements and Post Project Funds Management
NB 440-22-28 PGM - Closeout of 2014 Farm Bill Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP14) Partnership Agreements and Post Project Funds Management
National Bulletin: 440-22-28  
Date: September 15, 2022 
Subject: PGM - Closeout of 2014 Farm Bill Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP14) Partnership Agreements and Post Project Funds Management 


 
Purpose.   To provide guidance to States on how to close RCPP14 partnership agreements, including identification of appropriate uses of any remaining financial assistance (FA) and technical assistance (TA), and processes for return of excess FA and TA funds remaining in project fund codes.     
 
Expiration Date.  September 30, 2023  
 
Background.   This national bulletin summarizes the programmatic and financial requirements for closeout of partnership agreements and management of open obligations associated with covered programs for projects executed under RCPP14.        
 
Explanation.  

Following completion (including expiration, partner initiated early completion, or NRCS termination) of each RCPP partnership agreement, partners and lead States have agreement closeout responsibilities. Closeout procedures must follow relevant RCPP and FPAC Business Center Grants and Agreements Division (GAD) policy. States are encouraged to use the attached closeout checklist to ensure all closeout steps are followed.

Partner Responsibilities (Summarized by Partnership Agreement Type):

1) For projects governed by cooperative agreements, partnership agreement terms provide up to 90 days for lead partners to submit:

  •   Final RCPP project report.

For FY 2018 projects only, required documentation (final report, SF-270 and SF-425) must also be uploaded to ezFedGrants.

2) For projects created through a memorandum of understanding (MOU), the lead partner must complete reporting requirements as specified in their MOU. 

Lead State Responsibilities (both CA and MOU based projects):

Ensure partner responsibilities outlined in the agreement are met, and complete closeout and funds management steps outlined below.

Required Actions (Lead State and Partner States as Applicable):

Agreement Closeout and Initial Fund Returns: Within 120 days of project completion

STC in lead State staff responsible to ensure closeout is fully recorded, and for ensuring following steps have been completed:

  • Partner has satisfied their closeout responsibilities (e.g., final annual performance report submitted to the Programs Portal, final financial reporting submitted to lead State and/or ezFedGrants, etc.).
  • Lead State office must submit a closeout request to GAD through the ServiceNow portal.  Follow GAD processes to submit a closeout request.
  • GAD processes the closeout, including (for cooperative agreement projects only) de-obligation of any remaining funds obligated to the partnership agreement. GAD sends a letter to the partner indicating that the agreement is closed.
  • Lead States and each partner State (as applicable) must evaluate the remaining funds, including any de-obligated partner TA, in project WBS codes to determine whether and how much FA and TA must be retained to support post-expiration/termination RCPP contract activities. States must adhere to the following guidance:

o    No new covered program contracts may be executed in support of expired RCPP project agreements. States may retain up to 5 percent of the remaining obligated project FA or $10,000 (whichever is more) for legitimate project purposes (e.g., cost overruns, easement due diligence, associated with previously executed and still active FA contracts) in support of active producer contracts or easements pending closure.

o    NRCS may retain project TA for NRCS use in support of ongoing activities (e.g. check-outs of installed EQIP or CSP activities associated with active FA contracts executed during project term). Any TA beyond that needed by a State must be returned to NHQ.

Note: TA to support long-term stewardship and monitoring of easements closed under since-expired projects will be allocated to States using a separate process and should not be a consideration when a State is determining whether to retain TA funds within a project.

 o   Retained TA is available to support NRCS TA responsibilities associated with covered program contracts and should be used principally to pay NRCS staff. NRCS-use TA funds may be obligated to qualified TSPs or for other purposes via any legitimate federal procurement/award processes where such mechanisms are necessary to support completion of NRCS TA responsibilities.

o    Based on the requirement above, if lead or partner State determines there are excess funds in any project WBS, allowance holder State must notify Projects Branch using the “Funds Assessment” section of the Financial Assistance Programs Division (FAPD) SharePoint. funds assessment requests must identify the WBS code and amount to be returned. Projects Branch staff will coordinate the sweep of returned funds.

Note: Lead State responsible for coordinating determination of funds to be returned in both lead and non-lead State(s) as applicable.

    
 
Contact.   Please direct questions on this bulletin to the “Program Requests” section of the FAPD SharePoint.    
 
 

 /s/

  KAREN WOODRICH  
  Acting Deputy Chief for Programs  

 
 
 Attachment - RCPP Partnership Amendment Checklist    
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