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Transcript of the FY24 Tribal Victim Services Set-Aside Formula Program Webinar Series: Developing a Budget Webinar

May 15, 2024

View the Recorded Webinar

JAMEEL EVANS: Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining. Before we begin, we have a few words from the Deputy Director of the Tribal Division. Kara, take it away.

KARA MCDONOUGH: Thank you. My name is Kara McDonough, and I work with the Office for Victims of Crime in the Tribal Division. We wanted to welcome you to this webinar today. We thank you very much for spending your time with us. This is the third in the pre-application webinar series. And the fourth and final webinar in the series focuses on considerations for construction projects and takes place May 23rd. We will put a link into the chat if you wanted to register for that final webinar or to access the recordings of the first two webinars in this series. We want to thank the Tribal Financial Management Center for facilitating this webinar today on Developing Your Tribal Victims Set-Aside Budget for FY 24. And I will turn it over to Jameel Evans for some instructions. Thank you. 

JAMEEL EVANS: Thank you, Kara, and thank you all for joining us today. Our webinar will be jampacked. And thank you for joining “Developing your TVSSA Budget” presented by the OVC Tribal Financial Management Center. My name is Jameel Evans, and I will be moderating for you today. We appreciate everyone from the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, or OCFO, and the Office for Victims of Crime, or OVC, who are live with us today, and they'll help us answer any questions you may have. Before we begin, there are a couple of items that we need to go over. During the webinar, all attendees will be muted. Please enter your questions in the chat box and watch the chat box for a copy of today's PowerPoint presentation. And also, we’ll be posting messages from today's presentation. If you like to view the live subtitles for this webinar, please navigate to the Live Transcript button in your Zoom control panel. If you experienced any audio issues during the webinar, call in using one of the dial-in numbers found in your confirmation email. Now with that, I'll turn it over to our speakers, Christine and April. 

CHRISTINE MYERS: [Speaks Native language] Jameel. [Speaks Native language], everyone. Thank you for joining us today. My name is Christine Myers, and I'm joining you from Mount Ida, Arkansas. I'm an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and I've served here at TFMC as a financial specialist for nearly 3 years now. I bring with me years of experience managing various aspects of federal, state, and local government grant awards within Tribal communities. And with that, I'll pass it over to my colleague April to introduce herself.

APRIL BYRD: [Speaks Native language] My name's April Byrd, and I'm an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. And I'm joining you from the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in Cherokee, North Carolina. I currently serve as the Assistant Project Director at the Tribal Financial Management Center, and I've been here for almost 5 years now. And prior to working with TFMC, I worked with our Tribe for over 20 years, but I'm not going to share my age today. We're not here for that. So, with that, I'm going to turn it back over to Christine to tell you a little bit about our program. 

CHRISTINE MYERS: Thanks, April. The Tribal Financial Management Center, or as we lovingly call it, TFMC—alphabet soup for you—we launched our project in the fall of 2018. TFMC serves close to 300 Tribal entities with more than 800 OJP awards. We work closely with our OVC grant managers and the programmatic TA providers to provide training and technical assistance (TTA) as well as other resources to support American Indian/Alaska Native grantees and grant applicants. 

Our team is composed of skilled financial TTA and evaluation specialists uniquely qualified to serve grantees with a range of experience, including working within Tribal communities, within the victim services field, vast financial management subject-matter expertise, and familiarity with trauma-informed and culturally humble TA approaches. TFMC support helps build a strong financial management foundation for each community's victim services program. 

With that said, let's get started. We have a poll, and we're wanting to get to know our audience today. Like, who's here with us? Are you here with a federally recognized Tribe, a Tribal consortium, a nonprofit corporation serving American Indian/Alaska Native communities, or something other? And it looks like we've mostly got folks representing federally recognized Indian Tribes, a few consortiums, and some nonprofit corporations, a few others as well. Great. Thanks for sharing, everyone. All right. Next slide please. 

So, a budget is a financial document that provides a guide for how an entity manages its funding. It can show income, expenses, or both. It can be for an entire Tribal entity, or it can be for a specific project. In any circumstance, developing a complete and clear budget is the best approach to getting it approved without delay. This presentation will focus in specifically on expense budgets for projects. A project budget for expenditures is important because it details the costs of the program you are proposing and serves as a plan for how you will operate that program. Your budget is a shared document that makes it easier for you to run your program and track spending. It also assists your grant manager so they can monitor your project's progress. Your budget should provide data to monitor achieving project goals and objectives, support your capacity for future funding and project sustainability, and be a tool to help you avoid fraud and theft. Remember, a sound budget increases the likelihood your budget will reach final budget clearance early on in the process. Next slide. 

So, the narrative in your budget is as important as the line item details. You'll want to use it to tell a story. It's an opportunity for storytelling. You can use that to tell the story about what you plan to do. It helps the reviewers determine the items that are necessary, reasonable, allowable, and allocable. Your narrative should include an explanation of each line item and the basis of the computation. For example, let's say you requested $3,600 in office supplies for a year. You want to explain what type of supplies might be considered office supplies in your budget and how you arrived at the $3,600 figure. we recommend representing this as an average monthly cost. So, that would be $300 per month times 12 months: $3,600. Another important part of creating your Budget Narrative is to make sure you fill in any gaps of knowledge a budget reviewer might have. Let's say, for instance, you're an Alaska grantee considering requesting a snow machine or a Honda. This might look like including an explanation that the community does not have a traditional road system, and the common method of travel in the community is by snow machine or Honda. You'll also want to make sure your budget detail and Budget Narrative tie together to what you're proposing to do in your Program Narrative or checklist. Next slide, please. 

So, I know budget ideas are probably blooming in your head at this point. The Budget Detail Worksheet is the garden that you plant them in. Next slide. 

Oh, let me see if I can adjust my volume. Is that—is that a little better? 

APRIL BYRD: Yes. If you can go a little bit more that would be great. 

CHRISTINE MYERS: Okay. Give me just a second. How about now? Is that better? Check, check. One, two. 

APRIL BYRD: That'll be fine. 

CHRISTINE MYERS: All righty. Sorry about that. Sorry, everyone. All right, so we're going to talk a little bit about the Budget Detail Worksheet. I'm also going to speak up a little bit more. So, the Budget Detail Worksheet, we call it the BDW. More alphabet soup for everybody. It's the required budget format for the solicitation. You'll want to submit a completed BDW into JustGrants—into the JustGrants portal along with your application. The BDW is a helpful tool for writing a complete and detailed description of your estimated expenses to support your project’s proposed activities. Great. Each cost must be categorized in one of the baskets or buckets called a cost category and should include a calculation with a brief supporting narrative explanation that links the costs to the proposed activities that you're putting together. Grantees can refer to the solicitation for the allowable and unallowable cost charts for the Office of Victims of Crime Tribal Victim Services Set-Aside program for examples of allowable and unallowable costs. 

You can find the Budget Detail Worksheet on the Office of Justice Programs website. We're including a link in the chat box right now. I'm going to drop that in there for you. The Microsoft Excel file is user-friendly, fillable, but if you don't have access to Microsoft Excel or you experience any technical difficulties with the file, there is a 508 compliant PDF version available on the site as well for download. We do prefer you use the Excel file, but if you have circumstances that don't allow you to do that, there is a PDF option. Applicants may submit a budget of a period of up to 60 months (that's 5 years) using the Budget Detail Worksheet, and that must be uploaded as an attachment in JustGrants, as mentioned earlier. Applicants must use this file to show calculations for requested funding and narrative descriptions to support all the proposed expenses. 

It's best to get to know the BDW before you start working in it. There are nine tabs along the bottom, and that includes tabs for up to 5 years, as well as a tab for instructions, a completed example, and definitions. One of the tabs is also labeled Budget Summary. That totals each of your cost categories and each of the years on one sheet. The Excel version has little red triangles in the upper right-hand corner of the cells. If you move your cursor over that mouse over those triangles, a detailed instruction bubble will pop up for you. So, it'll tell you a little bit more about what should go in that cell. Make sure you use the Add and Delete Selected buttons in each budget category to add or delete a row. It will only add or delete one row at a time. Save your work as you go. And remember, the proposed budget should not exceed the formula allocation amount and must be consistent with activities described in your proposal narrative. April, can you go into some detail about the budget development process for us? 

APRIL BYRD: Absolutely, Christine. It's time to put the pedal to the metal and talk about developing your budget. So, we know that budgets can be super challenging, but hopefully after today's presentation, you should have additional information. And we're going to provide some tips and tricks to make the development process easier. Now we're going to walk you through building a detailed project budget and go into detail about different cost categories. 

This slide shows an overview of the four-step process. And those are writing the Project Narrative, using the Budget Detail Worksheet, writing the narrative for the BDW, and also attaching it to your application in JustGrants. Now it's critical that your budget and Budget Narrative tie to the overall Project Narrative. And today, we're going to focus in detail on step two, which is estimated costs, and step three, writing a Budget Narrative, so you have a strong budget for your project. I did want to make a quick note about the Project Narrative. You also—for the Project Narrative, you have the option of completing the Project Narrative checklist. And if you have any questions about that, you can reach out to your program manager. 

All right, so, it's important to create a SMART budget. And I've always like to use the SMART measurement because it is specific, which means it lists all expenses. Measurable: Use the computation column of the budget and that's what makes it measurable. Attainable: You want to make sure that it is realistic. Make sure your goals are realistic. Can I do this? Is it real? Can I? Make sure you're asking those questions. Also, relevant: Compare your timeline to your budget and double check that items are accounted for. And time-bound: Organize your budget by year or month. 

So, in my experience, budgeting takes a lot of time, especially if you're new to it. So, make sure you give yourself enough time and grace to gather the necessary information, and to think through and discuss the various elements of the budget. Don't rush the budgeting process. And you may find it helpful to make a task list for completing your budget and your Budget Narrative. So, the first task that we suggest is to outline your project activities. Are you implementing a new victim services program in your community? Are you expanding or enhancing an already existing victims’ program? You know, just think those things through and then make an outline of what you want your program to look like. Next, you want to break those activities into specific costs. 

And as an example, if one of those activities is to provide cultural healing services to victims, there may be supply costs needed for that activity. And once you've identified your costs, you'll want to assign those costs to the appropriate cost categories in the BDW. Now, after the costs are assigned, the next task will be to create a clear, complete, and concise Budget Narrative that explains and justifies each cost. And it's important that you include your basis of computation, which is how you've determined those estimated costs in the narrative to help justify the expense further. So, what I always like to think there is, what do I need to write down here so if someone has any questions, I can proactively answer those questions in the narrative, and so it's more likely that my budget will get approved? And then finally, you'll always want to ensure that all costs meet the requirements in the solicitation by viewing the solicitation very carefully. Now, all the solicitations are not the same. They change. They're updated. So, make sure you pay close attention to that and the allowable and unallowable costs. And we list this at the end, but remember that this task should be considered throughout the entire process of developing your budget. And the fiscal year 2024 invitation to apply indicates that applicants may submit a budget up to 60 months. 

So, understanding the difference between allowable and unallowable costs is going to be the key to developing your budget, and OVC has provided applicants with a chart of allowable and unallowable cost examples. And we're providing the link to that in the document—to that document in the chat for you so that'll be easy for you to locate. Again, it's very important. Make sure you review the solicitation carefully. And you want to use the chart provided to ensure that all your costs are allowable. Now, there are a lot of changes in allowable costs in the solicitation, which is different from previous solicitations. And so again, the chart of allowable and unallowable costs is very important to carefully review this year. So, the link to the chart is included in the chat and please reference it as often as you are creating your budget. 

Costs related to searching for missing persons, for example, physical or virtual searches or incidentals to searching for a missing person, are generally unallowable under the TVSSA program. However, there are a couple of specific circumstances. So, one of those circumstances is when immediate action is required. So, if immediate action required, that is one of the exceptions. And examples of that include, for example, a missing person is a child, or it's an adult who has dementia or a cognitive or intellectual disability. And the other exception is law enforcement resources are not reasonably available. So, we know, for example, in Alaska, sometimes they may be delayed by the weather, geographic distance, or in some cases, in other places, a law enforcement agency may simply decline to participate in the search. 

TVSSA applicants can use their funding to support services for families of missing individuals in the following circumstances. The missing individual is known to be a victim of kidnapping or human trafficking, or they were being groomed by the trafficker. And this includes circumstances where children may be in foster care, they disappear or they’re suspected to have been lured away or coerced into traveling away from home by the trafficker. The next is the individual's disappearance is the subject of a law enforcement investigation. Another one, the individual is feared by family members or loved ones to be a—to be missing as a result of any form of criminal victimization. And finally, the victim individual is known to have a prior history of crime victimization, and the victimization may be directly or indirectly linked to their status as a missing person. 

So, when thinking about what is allowable, there are three important questions to answer. Is this cost activity related to supporting or assisting victims of crime? It's very important that it is related to victims of crime. The second one is how is this cost related to the proposed project? And third, how does this expense help victims of crime? Some things to consider are who benefits from a program activity supported by this budget. Direct victim services like staff, equipment, [and] supplies to those who provide the services are allowable, and costs related to navigating the criminal justice or child welfare systems are allowable. Costs related to awareness about victimization and resources available for victims are also allowable. 

So, in the next two slides, we will discuss two other questions you will want to ask about your proposed costs. And I know we're coming at you with a lot of information. If you do have any questions at any time, please type those in the chat box and we will answer them as quickly as possible. If we need to get back to you, we'll let you know. So, another question you want to ask is, can the cost be considered allocable, reasonable, and necessary, specifically to this project? And sometimes you may want to use OVC funds for things that cross over into other programs. So, for example, if you're purchasing a case management tracking system and a lot of the programs are going to use it, not just the Victims of Crime program, then a portion of the case management software may be allocated to this award, but not the entire amount. And you'll need to determine what percentage of use you can charge to this award. 

The next question to ask yourself is whether the cost is reasonable and justifiable. And that one's pretty easy. For example, if you have 3 projects staff assigned to this award, then it wouldn't be reasonable or justifiable to request 10 computers. So, you have 3 staff, 10 computers. You really probably only need three computers. And then you want to provide a detailed explanation for the cost in your narrative, and it will address any questions that the reviewer may have. 

In this slide, we see a couple of examples of common equipment items requested under this solicitation. Now, vehicles may be allowable based on their proposed use, and a vehicle is used to support victims. And if you're supporting those victims, that would be allowable. While, if you wanted to purchase a vehicle for law enforcement, that would not be allowable. And so along those lines, security system equipment would be allowable for certain victim service facilities but would not be allowable for public buildings that are not specific to serving victims. And again, it's super important to remember that costs must be necessary, reasonable, allowable, and allocable. 

While TVSSA funds—excuse me—can be used to provide a wide range of services for victims of crime, there are some statutory limitations on how the funds can be used. Costs related to investigation and prosecution, all offender services, or corrections are generally unallowable. And cost programs—costs for program activities that are focused solely on prevention [are] also unallowable. If your application contains unallowable costs or activities, you will be asked to remove them from your application. So, make sure you review the allowable and unallowable cost chart. All right. I've provided you with a lot of information. So now I'm going to pass it back over to Christine so she can go into more detail about some of the different budget categories. Christine. 

CHRISTINE MYERS: Thanks, April. Can everybody hear me clear now? Nice and loud. 

APRIL BYRD: You're still a little quiet. 

CHRISTINE MYERS: Oh, it's so weird. I'm trying to speak up in here. All right, so, I'll try to speak up nice and loud. Okay, so as April just noted, we are going to review each budget category in detail. Okay. And as a reminder, representatives from OVC and the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, better known as OCFO, are here to take questions, so feel free to type your questions in the chat if you have them. We'll try to answer those in real time if possible, get back to you if we can't. 

Let's get started with the first budget category. You need staff. So, personnel. Award funds may be used to pay the salary for full- and part-time employees who spend their time and effort providing services to the victims of crime. please note applicants must follow provisions included in the DOJ Grants Financial Guide and Part 200 Uniform Requirements for Federal Awards for all cost categories. 

On your screen here is an example of how to write out the true costs for each of your project personnel. You'll want to include the title, the rate of pay, the portion of time dedicated to project activities, and the length of time the individual will work on the project for the budget period. List each position by title and name of employee if you have that available. If you don't have a name of an employee, you can just put TBD (to be determined). You'll want to show the salary rate and the percentage of time to be devoted to the project for that individual. Wages for employees engaged in grant activities must be consistent with the pay for similar work within your applicant entity. 

In the Budget Narrative, you'll want to include a description of the responsibilities and duties of each position and relationship to fulfilling the project goals and objectives. This can be just a sentence or two about what work that role—what work that position will do on this grant award. All requested information must be included in the Budget Detail Worksheet and the Budget Narrative. Complete this level of detail for each budget year of the project. For example, if you're adding staff in year 2, please make sure that they are reflected there. If you have more than one position held by different people with the same title, you'll want to label each differently so that it doesn't appear that there are duplicative costs. For example, if you have two advocates, advocate number one, advocate number two. Also, remember to budget for cost-of-living allowances or merit increases, if applicable to your entity. And if you include that, make sure you put a sentence or two about the policy that your entity has in regards to COLAs or merit increases. 

Are there any questions about the personnel category at this time? If so, please go ahead and drop those in the chat for us. 

And we can go to the fringe benefits category. There we go. Fringe benefits are correlated to the staff listed in your personnel budget category, and only for the percentage of time that's devoted to the project. All requested information must be included in the Budget Detail Worksheet and the Budget Narrative. 

So, you'll want to include as much detail in each of the budget categories as you can. This is an excellent example of the detail to include when you're writing out the fringe section of your budget. The fringe benefits should be based on actual known costs, or an approved negotiated rate by a federal or state agency. If not based on an approved negotiated rate, list the composition of your fringe benefit package. Some of the items that that may include are FICA, Medicare, Worker's Compensation, retirement or 401(k), [or] life and health insurance. The rate for the benefits in the example listed is 28.45%. And they're broken down in the narrative section if you notice down below. As we stated earlier, fringe benefits are only for the personnel listed in this budget. So, the personnel section and this section should be 1-to-1 matched and should only be for the percentage of time that their pay is coming out of this budget. 

So, then we have travel. That—travel is the next category. Travel costs are the expenses that are incurred or planned for transportation, lodging, subsistence, and related items incurred by employees who are in travel status on official business for the nonfederal entity. Grantees must reimburse travel expenses based on their agency travel policy, but at rates that do not exceed the federal per diem rates and must follow provisions included in the DOJ Grants Financial Guide. In those guidelines, you'll want to remember the first and last calendar day of travel per diem is calculated at 75%, and you'll see that in the detail on the next slide. 

As with the other budget categories, all requested information must be included in the Budget Detail Worksheet and the Budget Narrative. In the narrative, be sure to state whether the budget numbers are based on the Tribal entity's travel policies, or if the federal travel regulations are followed. This could be something just as simple as a sentence that says, we will follow our Tribal travel policy, or we're following, these rates are based off GSA federal travel regulations. Consultant travel, as a note, is not going to be included in this category, so if you're paying consultant travel, that will be included later under the consultant travel under subaward, subgrants, or the procurements contracts budget category. In this year's solicitation, applicants should budget travel costs for a minimum of two key personnel to travel to at least one DOJ-sponsored training or convening per year for the duration of their project period. So, if you have a 3-year budget and it starts this year, you would have one in each of the years budgeted in the travel section for at least one travel, two key staff. 

So, here's the example of the budget with narrative for travel for year 1. And local travels included for the victim advocate, as they need to transport victims to and from court proceedings and meetings with service providers using their own vehicle. Based on this budget, they expect to drive up to 1,000 miles per year and be reimbursed at the rate that was current at the time, which is $0.59 a mile. Also included, you'll see, is travel for the project director and the victim advocate to one DOJ-sponsored training. This accounts for roundtrip airfare and local transportation costs. You can use the online airline sites to estimate some of those transportation costs, but you'll want to use the GSA rates from the GSA site or the DOD rates for Alaska. 

This continuation of the previous slide is showing the remaining travel costs that were included in this budget. you'll see lodging and meals. Also, you'll see the narrative section for the travel. And this states who is expected to travel, the purpose of the travel, and then adds in some additional detail about each budgeted cost. Now, when estimating travel costs, if the event location has yet to be determined, you're recommended to use Washington, D.C., as your placeholder location. So, you'll use those rates relative to Washington, D.C., and whatever the time of the year is to make your estimations. You'll want to write in specific details about lodging and meal per diem. This narrative states that the GSA travel per diems were used to estimate the lodging and meal costs. The narrative also states that the other travel cost line item that you saw on the prior slide is for baggage fees. Some additional costs that could be included but aren't reflected in this example include airport parking fees, bus fare, taxi fees, and tolls. 

There are always a lot of questions related to travel, so please feel free to drop your questions in the chat box if you have them, and we'll do our best to answer those for you. We've added the links to the GSA per diem rates and the defense travel management rates for Alaskan applicants. I'm going to pass it over now to April, who's going to review our equipment cost category. Fun times. 

APRIL BYRD: All right. Thank you, Christine. I know sometimes those—travel can get a little tricky trying to remember all those details. All right, so award funds can also be used to obtain equipment for program staff, which is required to carry out the project activities. And all the equipment attained with grant funds must be reasonable and necessary for project purposes. And the DOJ Grants Financial Guide, that is everybody's book that needs to be printed out and placed on your desk so you can refer to it. But the DOJ Grants Financial Guide defines equipment as tangible personal property, including information technology systems, that (1) has a useful life of more than 1 year; and (2) a per-unit acquisition cost of $5,000 or greater, or the entity’s capitalization threshold if it's less than $5,000. If the item does not meet those thresholds, then you just put it under supplies. I do want to make a note here that in October of this year, October 2024, that threshold is going to be changing to $10,000. Now, in the Budget Narrative, you want to explain how the equipment is necessary for the success of your project and describe the procurement methods that you are using. You'll want to know, is it going to be rented or leased equipment? If it is, it will go under the procurement contract budget section.

So, here's a list of examples that you may need to implement your victim services project. Remember that all costs relating to service victims, and I've said it before, they must be reasonable and justifiable. 

All right. For the equipment expense budget, list the type of equipment, the quantity, and the cost. So, if you look at this example, case management software and 4x4 vans are being purchased. And then in the Budget Narrative at the bottom, you want to explain how the equipment is necessary for the success of your project and describe the procurement methods that are going to be used. And this can just simply be a sentence or two about the applicable Tribal procurement policy. And also, if you do a lease versus purchase analysis, that can be included. 

Next is the supplies category. And award funds can be used to purchase supplies necessary to carry out your project activities. Supplies are all other items of tangible personal property that are not equipment, and this includes computing devices that cost less than $5,000 per unit. And of course, the entity’s capitalization threshold. If that's less than $5,000, all requested information must be included in the Detail Worksheet and the Budget Narrative. 

So, the example that you see on the screen includes office furniture, computers, and office supplies for the project director and victim advocate. Cultural supplies are also included here and may consist of items to be used with clients to promote wellness and incorporate traditional healing practices. 

This next category is the subawards or subgrants category, and it's used to describe subawards which the lead or prime grantee makes to its subrecipients to carry out part of the required activities under the grant. So, you would be the prime grantee, and if you hired someone to help carry out those required activities, those would be your subrecipients. So, an agreement that meets these criteria should be categorized as a subaward, not a procurement contract. Even if your entity refers to the sub agreement as that type of contract, you would still put it under a subaward. To be considered a subaward, the criteria on the slide must be met, and those include making decisions about programmatic activities, adhering to the federal program requirements, and also providing services to members of the public. Subrecipients must also report on its activities to the prime grantee for inclusion in required program performance measures. 

And, so, I like to think of that as, if I have a subrecipient, I make sure that they are reporting to me the same way that you would report to your awarding program. So, we're talking about OVC. If you are reporting to them, then your subrecipient would report to you in that same manner. And the funding, Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, or FFATA, requires that grantees who have subawards greater than $30,000 file an FFATA report. 

So, the subgrantee or subrecipient information is provided in this category. And here you would want to write the name of the entity, the amount and what type of entity it is, and then what service they're going to be providing, and where and to whom. You also want to provide documentation that the subgrantee will be performing the project activities aligned with the requirements for the subaward, and that's like determining eligibility, reporting data, complying with federal funding guidelines, etc. In this example, because the subaward is more than $30,000, an FFATA report is going to be required. 

All right. We have a question for you. Yes or no, we want to know if you plan to have a subaward in your FY 24 application budget. And you could just raise your hand if you plan to have a subaward. Okay. Or put it in the chat. Sounds great. No, no. Yes. We have one yes. Paul, have fun. We're here to help you, just remember. All right. We have a lot of no's. One yes. Thank you for participating. 

Now we're going to look at procurement contracts. Award funds can be used to procure goods and services for the benefit of the grantee. Procurement transactions need to be conducted using the entity’s established process. Sole-source procurement contracts in excess of $250,000 must receive prior approval from OJP. And that's the Office of Justice Programs. All right. 

The same level of specific detail should be provided for subawards and procurement contracts. And this example here lists labor to install a modular home kit. Now we can also, if needed, include janitorial and security services in this category. And again, a lot of good information. And now, Christine is going to take us through the last few budget categories. Back over to you, Christine. 

CHRISTINE MYERS: Thanks, April. And so, the next section we're going to talk about is construction. Sorry. Give me just a second. Next section we're going to talk about is construction. Grantees may use TVSSA funds for purchasing and installing modular homes, renovating existing space, expanding existing space, and, in the case where maybe you want to consider doing something with a traditional stick build or ground-up construction project, if you're proposing that as maybe a more cost-effective and long-term option, OVC will work with you to determine the most effective way of using the TVSSA funds in that regard. Construction costs must be justified as a reasonable and necessary expense of the Tribe's victim services program. The DOJ Financial Guide strictly prohibits using grant funds for land acquisition, but the constructed space must be used to support Tribal victims in the community. And there are a couple of examples like, say, for instance, if you were going to build a shelter or get a modular for a shelter or to set up counseling offices. Also, minor repairs or renovations, those would typically go under the contracts or other budget cost category. New or more significant construction would go in the construction category. 

Applicants proposing to use funds for construction or major renovation, including the purchase and installation of modular buildings, mobile homes, prefabricated buildings, and similar structures, are strongly advised to choose a project period of at least 36 months to allow sufficient time for environmental review that's necessary, any approvals, actual construction of the unit, assembly, and installation of the project facility. Applicants proposing to use these funds for those costs must complete and upload a separate TVSSA construction renovation questionnaire in addition to your written proposal, narrative, or checklist. So, for applicants that elect to schedule an interview with OVC staff, an OVC staff member will complete that questionnaire during your interview. Grantees must adhere to NEPA requirements, the National Environmental Policy Act. It's an environmental review process that's required. There will be award conditions that are placed on your grant funds that require project compliance with NEPA and other federal or DOJ-specific requirements around construction. 

There's a lot of new information surrounding construction with the 2024 funding. We do encourage everyone who plans to include these costs in their budget to refer to the grant solicitation for more detail. Also, OVC, as mentioned at the beginning of this webinar, in case everyone wasn't there when we had the opening, OVC [is] sponsoring an additional webinar after this one. That one will go into more detail about construction and renovation projects. It's titled, “Considerations for Construction Projects.” It will be held May 23, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., eastern time. We're going to drop this information in the chat box for you, along with relevant construction links to help you with that process. 

This next budget category is called Other Costs, and it includes estimated costs that do not fit into any of the prior noted categories. Now, there are some examples of what you would want to put in here listed. Printing utilities, registration fees—yes, registration fees go in other, not in travel, so remember that—if you have internet or phone services for your facility, postage costs, emergency victim service expenses like housing and supplies or transportation vouchers, things like that. This would also be where you put your missing and murdered indigenous persons awareness costs, so for individual cases we mentioned earlier in the presentation, that would go here. 

And then we're going to show you [an] example. So, this is an example of the other cost category filled out. It includes utilities, cell phones, postage, emergency housing assistance, and emergency supplies for victims being served through the program. 

And then we're going to show you what the narrative looks like for that. So, this is the supporting narrative that goes with the other cost category. So, with all the—as with all the other budget categories, there's this narrative section. Each of the costs you saw in the prior slide are broken down, described in detail. And for example, you can see it's detailed out, the emergency housing assistance can include hotel stays or rental assistance. And they provide in this example, which is a great example, that, you know, their hotel stays are capped at 7 days and that rental assistance is capped at 1 month for this particular program. And so that's a really good example because it helps with reviewers looking at this as, you know, a reasonable cost. 

So now for the last budget category, it's indirect costs. Everybody loves indirect costs. Indirect costs are those which cannot be readily identified as benefiting a specific program or cost objective. They're usually referred to as overhead expenses like rent and utilities, but largely many times it's administrative expenses, including Tribal council salaries, or your board of directors, or the accounting department support costs, HR, IT, facilities, things like that. Indirect costs may be charged to an award only if (A) the recipient has a current, unexpired, federally approved indirect cost rate; or (B) the recipient has decided to use the de minimis rate, so the indirect cost rates described in Part 200 Uniform Requirements and in the DOJ Grants Financial Guide. Grantees that do not have an approved indirect cost rate may either negotiate an indirect cost rate with their cognizant federal agency, or they may elect to charge the de minimis rate of 10% of total modified direct costs. Costs must be consistently charged as either indirect or direct costs but may not be double charged or inconsistently charged as both. Also, if you elect to use the de minimis rate, it must be applied consistently for all your federal awards that your entity has until such time as an indirect cost rate is negotiated, which can be done at any time. You'll want to reference 2 CFR § 200.414 (f). 

So, here's an example of the indirect cost rate section, and the rate here shown is the negotiated direct cost rate of 23.56%. The narrative clearly explains what the period of the rate is approved for and how the base amount was calculated. You’ve got total direct costs less pass-through funds. And the narrative goes on to explain that procurement contracts for labor are identified as pass-through funds for this entity, so those funds would be excluded from the direct cost base. 

And here we've mocked up an example of a budget summary just for this example that we did of 1 year. So, as you've completed each of the budget categories in the BDW, the final numbers will be automatically pulled into the budget summary tab of your Excel file, the BDW. And so, this budget summary tab is going to show a final summary of how the costs are allocated by budget category in totals across all the years of the award. What you see on the screen here is how the summary would look for just [a] 1 year example. And remember, any errors on the budget summary page that you note have to be fixed on the corresponding Budget detail tab, so if we were working in year 1 and there was a problem with the totals, you'd have to go back to the year 1 tab on the spreadsheet. The BDW has the budget summary tab locked down. 

And I think I'm going to pass this back to April now, and she's going to talk us through some typical challenges that folks face in developing their budgets and some strategies that we suggest for success. 

APRIL BYRD: All right. Thank you, Christine. So now that your budget has bloomed, let's talk about some common challenges and then focus on some strategies for success. 

All right. But first we want to hear from you. So, when the window pops up on your screen, would you please select all the options that apply for this question? So, what parts, or part, of the budgeting gives you the most difficulty? And these options are allowable versus unallowable costs, indirect versus direct, personnel, fringe benefits, travel costs, construction, subaward versus procurement, equipment versus supplies, and finally, other costs. And you can choose more than one, select as many as you would like. What is the most challenging for you? 

All right. It looks like so far, we've got 26 participants and allowable versus unallowable may be the most challenging for you. And then construction is a close second, and then indirect versus direct, fringe benefits, then travel costs. And it looks like you all are great at personnel, so that is perfect. Yeah. Those—that's kind of what we see when we’re assisting grantees, so thank you all who answered. And it looks like we have a variety of responses. The biggest one looks like it was allowable versus unallowable. All right. Remember all that information is on the solicitation. It gives you a rundown guide of allowable versus unallowable. 

So, one of the challenges with building a budget is confusion about cost categories. And this may be the result of every grantee or entity having its own way of categorizing costs according to their, or your, internal financial policies and procedures. For example, some entities have definitions of equipment or supplies that differ from the OJP OVC categories. Now, if you're still confused about which category to use after reviewing the explanations for each cost category found in the solicitation, please reach out to your grant manager, and you can also reach out to us at TFMC for assistance. 

Now, these are some challenges that TFMC helps grantees work through. That's developing a budget that is mathematically sound, that corresponds with the information described in the Project Narrative, and aligns with the project design. Properly linking costs outlined in the BDW to the Project Narrative and timeline. Ensuring that the requested funding is consistent with the allowable activities under the solicitation and DOJ Grants Financial Management Guide. Correctly identifying subaward versus procurement relationships. And now, by pointing out these challenges, you're able to keep them in mind during your budget development process, and that gives you a better chance of avoiding potential issues with the budget later on. 

So here are our key tips to a successful budgeting process. Read the solicitation carefully. When I'm working on a budget, I have that solicitation pulled up the entire time. Next is [to] create the SMART budget. And again, that should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, all of those things to your project goals, and also time-bound to make sure you align with your project period. Involve project staff and other appropriate project partners in the budgeting process. Try to determine actual costs on big-ticket items and remember to factor in shaping and/or delivery fees. This is super important: Document everything. This will be very important in managing the budget throughout the year. And at the end of the day, realize that you will probably have to customize your budget-building process, as each entity's process will be unique. 

All right. This brings us to the conclusion of the webinar. But before we answer questions, I'd like to share a few important deadlines and resources. The first page of the Application Solicitation outlines the major deadlines and dates you need to be aware of, and OVC is following the required two-step submission process, which includes submitting information into Grants.gov and JustGrants. Award announcements are expected to be made on or before September 30 of this year, and for most grantees, your project start date is going to be January 1, 2025. If your entity has a current TVSSA award that will expire September 30, 2023, and if you need an earlier start date for your 2024 award to prevent a lapse in services, please contact your OVC grant manager to discuss. 

As I stated earlier, the DOJ Grants Financial Guide was recently updated, and so we're going to put the link to the interactive page where you can also find a downloadable copy. The DOJ Grants Financial Guide serves as the primary reference manual to assist award recipients in fulfilling their fiduciary responsibility to safeguard grant funds and ensure that the funds are used for the purposes of which they were awarded. And it compiles a variety of laws, rules, and regulations that affect financial and administrative management of your award. Grantees should refer to their award terms and conditions to determine the specific requirements that are applied to your award. 

The solicitation refers to the OJP Grant Application Resource Guide a lot. Make sure you're familiar with that as well. And the link is going to be in the chat box. 

CHRISTINE MYERS: Thanks, April. Thanks, everybody, for your, for your questions. So, we want to hear from you. If you need any help, please reach out to us. And if you have any questions about your budget development as you prepare your applications, or you'd like to connect with one of our financial specialists or a TA specialist to get some assistance on that, our contact information is up on the screen here. We also offer plain language resources. So, there's, on our website, OJP.gov/TFMC, and so there's some resources here online. It's over 40 financial policies and procedure guide sheets. We have other resources and tools that help support your budget development efforts, including on the next slide, there's lease versus purchase analysis material. It's a guide sheet and an Excel spreadsheet to help you calculate that. If you're purchasing a large item like a vehicle, that's something that you'll want to submit with your application, with your budget. And we're dropping the link to that in the chat as well. 

And then, TFMC supports OVC by providing intensive, individualized financial management TTA to grantees in coordination with their OVC grant managers, OCFO, and OJP TTA providers. A few of the ways we do this is by working with grantees to enhance and strengthen their existing financial policies and procedures. We support the development of budget modifications and accompanying grant award modifications as the grant progresses through its project period. We help to address audit findings and help you produce your corrective action plan if needed. We conduct trainings and webinars, in-person and virtually, on relevant grant financial management topics. And we work to develop easy-to-use resources that are accessible to all our grantees. 

We'll be dropping a link to our evaluation for this webinar in the chat box. You'll also be receiving an evaluation survey for this training via email. Please provide us with your feedback. We'd really appreciate it. And so those things should be dropped in the chat box for you now. And we just want to thank you all so much for joining us today. We look forward to hearing from you and working with you in the future to better serve victims of crime. And that concludes today's session. We hope you have a great day and an accurate budget.