1. #1
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    Default The results of not keeping an eye on who's writing your grants.

    Over the last few weeks I've been contacted to help some of our local departments with grants that they had a grant writer help them with. After spending 3 hours helping the department to the south of us, I thought I'd vent a bit and hopefully show some people the importance of checking a grant writer's work and knowing the grant program for yourself.

    Last night I went to help the department to the south of us with some close-out issues he's been having with two of his grants. In both cases the grant writer was supposed to have taken care of the close-out, but didn't.

    The first grant was an apparatus grant that the writer "tried" to close-out. AFG kicked out the close-out and reqeusted it be resubmitted. The department ended up finding a demo apparatus and negotiated the price to match the exact amount they were awarded, which apparently aggrevates AFG. The writer didn't explain how this happened in the close-out narrative, and didnt' explain anything about the apparatus that was taken out of service. The chief contacted this guy (mind you, this is an '06 grant!) and he's never got back with the chief.

    Now, flip to another department I talked to a few weeks ago that used the same grant writer. They wanted to get new bunker gear for their 16 firefighters. The problem they ran into was that they had 9 sets that were less than 5 years old. "No problem" says the grant writer, as he bumps the roster up to 25 guys for the grant! Needless to say, I was in shock. I tried to explain to this guy the risk of getting caught by a site audit and having to pay back the money for the 9 sets of gear, but he's convinced that this writer knows what he's talking about and it's going to be OK.

    OK, right back to the department last night. Last year they paid a guy $1,000 to write their grant. Come close-out time, he's moved to Florida and they can't track him down.

    With this grant they recieved funding for an air refill unit (compressor, cascade, and containment) and a washer/dryer set-up. The guy checked the wrong box on the SCBA system, saying it's a mobile unit. The chief questioned this before submitting the grant, but was told not to worry about it, as it didn't matter.

    On top of that, they didn't ask enough for the washer, let alone for the washer and dryer. No problem says the grant writer. They saved a little over $5K on the SCBA station, so they put that toward the washer/dryer set-up without bothering to contact AFG.

    This one I'm not sure how to handle right, and warned him that AFG probably isn't going to like what they did. The only hope I saw for him was to purchase the washer (the writer only listed the washer in the narrative, never mentioning the dryer) with the grant funds and show that they used excess funds and their increased contribution to purchase the dryer (which was only mentioned in the request information portion). This way, they only "swung" a couple of thousand to cover the extra cost for the washer, beyond what they were awarded.

    Needless to say, the chief I worked with last night learned some valuable lessons about who he trusts to write a grant for him. Unfortunately, the other chief (bunker gear) didn't. There's several more stories I've heard from that same grant writer, but since he serves as the county's EMD, everyone thinks he's trustworthy.

    So, long story short, make sure you double check your grant writer's reputation and their work! Nothing against the guys around here, but I know there are those that lurk the forums who use other writers that may not be so trustworthy.

  2. #2
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    The PG is clear on where the responsibility will fall.

    7. Grant Writer Fees: Fees for grant writers may be included as a preaward or
    pre-application expenditure. Fees payable on a contingency basis are not an eligible expense. For grant writer fees to be eligible as a preaward expenditure, the fees must be specifically identified and listed in the “Request Details” section of the application. In addition, the fees must have been paid prior to any contact with grants management staff or an award (i.e., paid within 30 days of the end of the application period). Applicants may be required to provide documentation to support these preaward expenditures.

    Hiring a grant writer, or use of any other third party in preparing the application, does not eliminate the applicant’s responsibility for ensuring that information contained in the application is true and correct. Applicants who submit false information with their applications, or misrepresent their organizations in any material manner, will have their applications deemed ineligible by the AFG Program Office and referred to DHS OIG for further action, as appropriate.

    All it takes is to read the PG, but they (Chiefs) do not relying solely on the grant writer.

  3. #3
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    Unfortunately I have a pile of stories like that. But since I serve dual roles of contributor here and as a grant writer I don't post because 'twould be highly unprofessional and probably seem predatory. I just keep them in a list next to the list of other grant writers I highly recommend also, which I do every year also.

    I try to live by what my grandfather always said: he who does the right thing and tells the truth only needs to remember one story. Amazing what the business world would be like if everyone took that approach to ethics in business....

    On a funny note about hiding in Florida, this scene made me laugh on Burn Notice:

    Try not to stand out too much, they're looking for you.
    I'm a 60 year old gray-haired woman in the middle of Florida, how can I not blend?

  4. #4
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    Of course I do the right thing since I don't want to end up with this as my reputation either...I did have this coffee cup at the old job since that's what they claimed in my reviews...
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    Yeah, these are the stories that scare me about AFG.

  6. #6
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    There are good guys and bad guys in that business. I would also suggest that if you use anybody to help you make sure you have in writing what your expectations are. Signed contracts are legal documents that can be enforced. Ask questions. don't just leave it to the grant writer to take care of everything. You are still responsible.

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