The online RCAP Resources Library has a variety of resources that are useful to small, rural drinking water and wastewater systems.
As budget time arrives, some water systems find they have additional budget reporting to do this year. Some systems received funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA, better known as the Stimulus. Those systems must report on the projects undertaken using those funds.
The first deadline to report on such projects was October 10. Each subsequent initial submission deadline is 10 days after the end of each calendar quarter, meaning the next deadline is January 10, 2010.
The only problem is, the reporting instructions may seem like Greek from a bad-spelling scribe. How do you interpret that? What exactly are you supposed to do to report your ARRA projects?
We’ll tell you in this edition of eBulletin. We’ll provide basic instructions and tips to make the process go as smoothly as possible. We’ll also let you know where to find help when you need it.
The first step to reporting is to register. To do that, you’ll need basic contact information plus lots of different numbers. You should already have the DUNS (Data Universal Numbers System) number for your system, since it was required for the initial funding application. Prime recipients (i.e. agencies) and subprime recipients (i.e. grant or loan recipients) will also need a CCR (Central Contractor Registration) number as well. This number is provided when you register online in the CCR database at www.ccr.gov. To register, you’ll need your DUNS number, tax identification number (TIN) and taxpayer name, statistical information about your business, and Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) information. Once you are registered, you’ll get a TPIN (Trading Partner Identification Number). The TPIN and your DUNS number will allow you to log into the CCR Web site, create a simple user ID and password and use the database. Once you have all those numbers straight, it’s time to proceed with ARRA registration. You’ll need to register using Microsoft Internet Explorer version 6 or later or Mozilla Firefox version 2 or later. To check which browser you have, go under the Help menu to “About Internet Explorer” or “About Mozilla Firefox.” A window will pop up that will give you the version number. As long as that number is bigger than 6 or 2 respectively, you’re fine. Otherwise, you’ll need to download the latest browser. Links can be found below. Once you’ve got the right browser, go to FederalReporting.gov and enter your basic information and DUNS number, if needed. You should get a registration confirmation and an e-mail will be sent to the address you provided during registration.
After initial registration and once you have logged in, you will need to request an FRPIN (Federal Reporting Personal Identification Number) by clicking a link on the left side of the page. Once again, you will need your DUNS number, since it will be associated with your FRPIN.
Once you’ve requested and received your FRPIN, you can start reporting through the web site.
Confused? It’s understandable. That’s a lot of alphabet soup to digest. Don’t worry. We’ll help with the alphabet soup. Just take a look at the glossary provided in our Tips and Tools section. A link is provided below.
ARRA Reporting Glossary
Central Contractor Registration Database
Microsoft Internet Explorer Download
Mozilla Firefox Download
Now that you’re registered, numbered, PINned and prepared, it’s time to (finally!) start doing what you wanted to do in the first place – report on your project.
The FederalReporting.gov Web site should help guide you through this process. It provides an Excel spreadsheet (or XLS spreadsheet) template for your reporting. You can use the template as a worksheet for your online reporting, or you can fill out the Excel spreadsheet and submit it through the Web site.
If you have questions on the reporting process, the Web site has help available. First, it has a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page available with lots of questions that may help you. Simply quick on the question and it will jump down the page to the appropriate answer.
The site also has a sample report available via an Excel spreadsheet, so you can see how things should be reported. You’ll need details about your vendors and contractors, deadlines and other information. In addition, the site offers webinars to guide you step-by-step through reporting.
Links to all of these features are provided on the site’s Downloads section. A link to this section is provided below.
Once you have the hang of the Web site, you can submit reports easily using its reporting system. You also can check on past reports using the My Reports tool, which will let you view the entire report or filter the information by DUNS number, fiscal year, and several other criteria. You can even edit reports and resubmit them. Just keep in mind, once you resubmit a report, the older version disappears.
After all is said and done, general reports from your information will be published at Recovery.gov for the public to access. So your customers will be able to see the progress you’re making.
Federal Reporting FAQ
Federal Reporting Downloads
As you can tell, it’s not a quick or easy task to complete all these registrations and reports. It can get a bit confusing at times. Luckily, there are ways to get help.
Your local USDA-Rural Development office has employees trained in ARRA reporting, and they can help you through any snags. Check with your state’s Rural Development office to find your local representative.
If you need help finding your Rural Development office, just visit the link below. The main USDA-RD Web site has an entire page and section dedicated to the ARRA.
Questions about ARRA reporting aren’t new. A memorandum is available on the USDA-RD ARRA page that includes questions that have been posed since the reporting requirements were released in June. The answers to some of these questions are available in the memorandum. A link to the memorandum is available below.
Another good resource is your local Rural Community Assistance Partnership representative or office. RCAP technical assistance providers are trained to assist with ARRA regulations, from applying for funding to reporting projects.
RCAP has six regions representing all of the United States and its territories. A link to the RCAP Web site is available below. Links to each region are available at the RCAP Web site by clicking on the map on the main page and can direct you to your local RCAP representative, who will be happy to assist you with any ARRA questions or issues.
Finally, if you still have questions, just click the Ask the Expert link at the Safe Drinking Water Trust’s Web site. Your question and contact information will be passed on to someone who can help you. A link to the site is available below.
So take heart. Reporting on your Stimulus-funded projects may seem like a daunting task, but once the initial registration and setup process is complete, it should be easier from there. If it isn’t, there is plenty of help available if you need it.
USDA-RD Utilities Information page
RD ARRA page
USDA-RD Memorandum – ARRA questions