By Michael “The Grantmaster” Penzotti
We all know that our ladders, hoses, and pumps need to be tested each year. It might seem like busy work, but we know better; these chores are an investment in our equipment to ensure they are ready when we need them. Knowing that those tools are ready allows us to succeed in dangerous environments on a regular basis. The same holds true for your department’s “grant tools.” The tool that needs work RIGHT NOW is your System for Award Management (SAM) registration. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) Get Ready Guides for the upcoming Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program now states, “Per 2 CFR Part 25, all grant applicants MUST have an active current SAM registration status at the time of application and throughout the duration of any federal award.” This information pertains to all future programs not just the upcoming SAFER program.
SAM is a registry that collects all government grantees in one central location. In the past, this has been the Central Contractor Registry (CCR). SAM consists of basic business information such as your Dun and Bradstreet Number (D&B), Employer Identification Number (EIN), and other basic contact and banking data. The reasoning behind having one central registry is to consolidate data on who is receiving funds and to ensure that their data is consistent and up to date.
Until helping several customers with this process, I thought it was just another bureaucratic hoop to jump through. Now, after completing the process a few times, I better understand why this is happening. Many customers had Dun’s numbers, EIN, and contact information that was either inconsistent, expired, or for another entity. These are the kind of errors the SAM should weed out. If you have all of your data organized and updated the SAM registry should only take about 20 minutes, if your data is outdated or incorrect or your numbers have expired, this work could include many phone calls, emails, and wait times in excess of a week.
If you are already registered and current in the CCR, you are current and registered with SAM! If you are not in the CCR or expired, SAM registration consists of two parts. First, create a “user account”; this is the basic contact information for those involved in grant management and financial matters. Once the user account is completed, it is time to “register the entity”; this is the department or municipality’s data. Almost every question has a help option and definitions that pop up on the screen. There are no trick questions or narratives needed just read the directions and follow the prompts. To get started you can click here www.sam.gov/portal/public/SAM.
Also, you must gather basic data for all of your upcoming applications. Have you completed your 2012 call volume reports, updated your financial need to reflect your current budgets, made note of changes in your local economy on new risks and community hazards? All of this data can easily be updated now in a Microsoft Word™ document and ready to be pasted into your next applications.
Preventative maintenance is an underrated but valuable task that keeps your wheels greased and operations running smooth. I encourage you to take the time now to get these tasks done so when grants open you will be “ready for action.”