RCAP releases new guide to help communities report on Recovery Act funds

February 23, 2011 | General RCAP News


The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) has released a new guidebook designed to assist recipients of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to understand and complete the reporting process required by those funds.   RCAP’s ARRA Registering and Reporting Guide is aimed at communities that have received Recovery Act loans and/or grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Utilities Service.   The guide is intended for use by the leader or staff person of a small community water system who is responsible for registering the utility and reporting on its use of ARRA funds with various federal and related agencies. Users of the guide are walked through the steps of registering for a DUNS number and with Central Contractor Registration, and with registering and using FederalReporting.gov. Most importantly, the step-by-step guide, written in a question-and-answer format, helps small communities and systems comply with the reporting process associated with ARRA funds.   The guide was written by West Virginia RCAP, one of the state programs of the Great Lakes RCAP. Along with being written in a clear and understandable language, the guide includes common mistakes to be avoided that the authors have witnessed in their own communities. In short, it is a tried-and-tested guide written by RCAP staff who have experience in providing assistance to communities that receive funds from USDA-RUS. Although it was written by RCAP staff in one region, the guide applies to borrowers and grant recipients in any part of the United States and territories.   “One key way this guide will assist communities is helping them fulfill the federal government’s request to be transparent when using Recovery Act funds,” said Robert Stewart, RCAP Executive Director. “RCAP wants to help utilities be responsible stewards of the funds they get. This is one aspect of long-term sustainability, which is RCAP’s overall goal for communities.”   The introduction to the guide reads, in part, “The information and tips the authors provide are firmly rooted in the confusing—and often daunting—process that is ARRA reporting. It is the authors’ intention that their tips guide you through the process so that you do not face the same problems they did. Each tip is the result of a problem faced while reporting. Hopefully each tip will mean fewer problems for you.”   The ARRA Registering and Reporting Guide is the first to be published of 11 print resources that RCAP is developing to aid small, rural communities. Each guide is being written and reviewed by field staff who are experts in the subject of the guide they are producing. All guides will be broad enough to apply to most communities across the country, regardless of their location and their state’s rules and regulations. The RCAP national office in Washington, D.C., is responsible for the distribution of these resources, which will complement and support RCAP’s field work in providing in-person, customized assistance through its 150 Technical Assistance Providers.   A list of the other ten guides that will be produced and a description of each is at www.rcap.org/commpubs.   The guidebooks are being funded thanks to a $5 million grant of ARRA funds secured by RCAP and furnished by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development.   All communities receiving ARRA loans or grants will receive a free copy of the guide from RCAP by mail in early March. Communities can also obtain the guide as a PDF on the RCAP website at www.rcap.org/commpubs. Communities can view it there and download and save a copy on their own computers.