I’ve had a lot of inquiries from my latest blog on SAFER grants, particularly questioning why a department would go through the effort to apply for a SAFER grant and then reject it.  Believe it or not it happens.

For those of you that it happens to, you are not alone.  Every local that has experienced this is just as frustrated as the next.  Let’s understand the process post-panel review.  After your SAFER application completes the peer review process, it is “racked and stacked” in order of score so FEMA can begin to make awards.

Awards that will save the jobs of anyone with a “pink slip” in hand are awarded first, then retention, then new hires and so on.  If your department is selected to receive an award, they will be asked if they will accept the award if given the opportunity.  While some think that is a silly question to ask, the reality is that it takes more time for FEMA to deobligate an award that has been made and rejected.

Therefore, it is better to know upfront if a department is not going to accept the award so FEMA can simply award it to the next department on the list.  This is the part of the process where you may not have visibility.  FEMA will call the POC listed on the grant at the time of application.  That is typically someone from your department, city hall, or county office etc.  The POC can simply say they will or will not accept the award.  Prepare yourself for this. Anticipate this call from the beginning, at the time of application, and preplan accordingly.  Discuss with your department the “what ifs” and ask-

•         What if we get an award?  Will we accept it?
•         Is there a chance we may not accept it and why?
•         What can we do in the meantime to ensure we can accept the award without issue?
•         What can we do to ensure we move swiftly after an award?  Consider hiring lists, civil service requirements, etc.

These seem like basic questions, however if you do not know the answers to these before you get your award, you may be at risk of your department declining the award or you may delay time after the award, causing the need to request a grant extension – most of the time this can be avoided with proper planning.

Just remember, if your department chose to decline an award, you are not alone.  Please contact our office or e-mail [email protected] for assistance.