Federal Assistance Law Division

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Welcome

The Federal Assistance Law Division assists the Commerce Department with all legal services associated with federal assistance. On this site you can find out contact information for the staff members, identify staff client assignments, read archived legal articles prepared by staff members, view federal assistance presentations created for clients, find a list of grant programs with supporting statutory citations linked to the statutes, administrative regulations, OMB Circulars, and Commerce policies governing the award of federal assistance by all of the bureaus within the Department.

Office Description

The Federal Assistance Law Division (FALD) of the Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Finance and Litigation is headed by Michelle O. McClelland. Staffed by eleven attorneys and one administrative assistant, FALD attorneys are co-located with the three primary grants offices servicing the Department: at headquarters in Washington, D.C., at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s offices in Silver Spring, MD, and at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, MD.

The Office advises the Department's Grants Officers and Program Officials on all award documents, administrative matters, disputes, suspensions, terminations, cost disallowances, audit resolutions and audit appeals; represents the Department on all federal assistance matters before the Government Accountability Office; and serves as co-counsel to the Department of Justice in litigation involving claims under grants, cooperative agreements, loans, loan guarantees and subsidies.

Grants Policy and Programmatic Authority for Federal Assistance

The Federal Grants and Cooperative Agreement Act of 1978 ("the Act") was created to promote a better understanding of United States Government expenditures and help eliminate unnecessary administrative requirements on recipients of Government awards by characterizing the relationship between executive agencies and contractors, States, local governments, and other recipients in acquiring property and services and in providing United States Government assistance. The Act prescribes criteria for executive agencies in selecting appropriate legal instruments to achieve uniformity in their use by executive agencies; a clear definition of the relationships they reflect; and a better understanding of the responsibilities of the parties to them. The Act promotes increased discipline in selecting and using procurement contracts, grant agreements, and cooperative agreements, maximize competition in making procurement contracts, and encourage competition in making grants and cooperative agreements. For more information about the Act, click on this OMB Grants and Contracts Guide issued in 1978.

To improve the effectiveness and performance of Federal financial assistance programs, simplify application and reporting requirements for federal assistance, improve the delivery of services to the public, and facilitate greater coordination among those responsible for delivering such services, Congress passed the Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act of 1999 ("FFAMIA"). FFAMIA also includes the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, see page 2 of the linked PDF.

In order to provide federal assistance, there must be statutory authority to make an award and funding available at the time of the award. For more information about Commerce Department programmatic authority to provide federal assistance click on this Commerce Deparment Financial Assistance Program Statutory Authorities link.

The Grants Management Division provides the Commerce Department's federal assistance policy for grants and cooperative agreements. Clicking on the following links will take you to the main Commerce Department federal assistance policy webpage, complete with links to important grants and cooperative agreements policy documents, and links to the documents themselves: