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Expediting the Federal Grant Process with an Administrative Partner

Q: What is an AP?

A: An AP is an organization that supports a governmental entity, such as a health department, with processing federal grants and assuring compliance with grant requirements. The goals of an administrative partnership are to increase the competitiveness of the health department in applying for and accepting federal funding and to expedite implementation of grant activities. Ultimately, the AP and the health department aim to improve the public’s health and safety in the most efficient and effective manner.

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Q: What are the benefits of an AP?

A: A functional AP relationship can be a valuable asset to a health department in the following aspects of the grant cycle: applying for and processing federal grants, hiring staff, implementing grant activities, assuring compliance with grant requirements, and submitting reports. A fully-authorized AP can take on some or all of the administrative tasks necessary to obtain and implement federal grants.

Q: What documents will the CDC Office of Financial Resources (OFR) require to officially designate an AP?

A: Regardless of the terms used to identify an AP, OFR requires an AP applicant to submit documentation that establishes the validity of the entity and proves its designation as an authorized representative of the health department. OFR does not have a set list of documents that must be submitted. Documents could include an authorizing statute, an executive designation letter, the AP’s articles of incorporation or charter, or a binding agreement with the health department. The documentation should be included with “Other Attachment Forms” when submitting an application via

Q: How is an AP created?

A: An AP is created under state, tribal, local, or territorial authority. Depending on the jurisdiction, APs can be established in a variety of ways, including through statutes, contracts, or executive delegations. The circumstances of all jurisdictions are unique; therefore, it is important to consult with business management and legal staff while planning AP activities.

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Q: How much funding is needed to set up an AP, and how is it used?

A: Funding amounts will vary for each AP. However, all APs will require startup funds to hire staff, obtain office space, and cover the initial administrative costs necessary to establish the AP.

Q: Will CDC provide startup funds?

A: No. However, funds to start an AP may come from a variety of sources, including the state, a regional entity, or a private organization such as a foundation.

A: How is the process for establishing an AP started?

A: The first step is to determine legal authority in establishing an AP. The next step should be discussions with health department staff and leadership. Consider including health department programmatic and administrative leadership, advising attorneys, and managers of CDC grants and contracts. Next, consider convening an exploratory group of health department staff and external stakeholders, such as partner academic institutions and others in government who are experienced in administrative and programmatic grant and contract management.

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Q: Are bona fide agents and fiscal intermediaries the same as APs?

A: APs are sometimes referred to as bona fide agents or fiscal intermediaries. AP is a better, more descriptive term because APs truly work in partnership with health departments and can address the range of administrative activities necessary to obtain and implement federal grants.

Q: What are bona fide agents and fiscal intermediaries?

A: Bona fide agents and fiscal intermediaries are organizations designated by the health department as eligible to submit a grant application in lieu of the health department. The terms are sometimes used interchangeably with AP. These organizations may simply apply for the grant and funnel money to the health department, or may undertake more of the grant activities depending on the local situation. If applying as a bona fide agent or fiscal intermediary of a state or local government, documentation must be submitted that establishes the validity of the agent. The term “fiscal intermediary” can be confusing if used to refer to an AP because of the term’s use in the Medicaid system. In the Medicaid system, a fiscal intermediary is a type of claims processing and payment organization.

Q: Where can a health department find more information to determine its legal authority to enter into a relationship with an AP and if an AP is a wise choice?

A: The National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) also can provide resources and contacts related to APs. Some Public Health Institutes (PHIs) have acted as APs, bona fide agents, and fiscal intermediaries. PHIs are nonprofit organizations that improve the public’s health by fostering innovation, leveraging resources, and building partnerships across sectors, including government agencies, communities, the health care delivery system, media, and academia. NNPHI is an association of PHIs that convenes its members and partners at the national, state, and local levels in an effort to address critical health issues, including APs and bona fide agents. For more information, refer to the Fiscal/Administrative Management section on the NNPHI website.

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