Author: Darcy B. Harris
The Recreational Trails Program provides reimbursable grant funding for recreational trail development and repair, and environmental protection and safety/education programs relating to recreational trail use. The Recreational Trails Program Applicant Accountability and Process Efficiency Project developed two tools to improve the effectiveness of the program, New grant applicants and current grantees require clear guidance about state and federal procurement requirements, federal regulations, and programmatic guidelines for the Recreational Trails Program in Alaska. The iterative tool and administrative controls created for this project will help to guide and inform the applicants and add legal protection for the State of Alaska, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) immediately and into the future. The Application Instruction and Information Manual (Manual) details the rules, regulations, requirements, and processes for compliance surrounding procurement and federal grants and is publicly available for applicants to utilize during the grant cycle. Legal language has been added to the signature page of the application so each applicant understands the importance of compliance and integrity when managing a federal grant. The Manual is intended to be a generalizable tool that will continue to evolve as different groups of stakeholders provide input and feedback with regard to its utility. This project was initiated to assist the majority of grant applicants with processes, regulations, and guidelines, increase comprehension and success, and reduce management time coaching and frustration for applicants. To a lesser degree but intended to mitigate a higher risk, this project researched, created, and added supplementary legal language into the application that will serve to both add a layer of legal protection for the DNR and remind applicants of their fiscal responsibilities when managing federal grant funds. The hypothesis for this project is that when applicants have an improved means by which to meet the requirements of the grant program they will become more self-sufficient, knowledgeable, successful, and compliant. It is the program manager’s responsibility to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations, as well as program guidance, and there are now effective tools and administrative controls to consistently achieve this.