Policies and Procedures, and Grants Program Package

After I posted my last blog, I wrapped up with the Court Help Center “short-form paper” (the final product was not so short – almost 13 pages single space). For the International Visitors Educational Program contract, I went through another couple of rounds of revisions with Tim. Tim was very strict about the contract languages and I really appreciated that. After this exercise, I can feel that kind of sensitivity to words/language started to grow in myself too. This was definitely a valuable opportunity for me to get the hands-on experience of contract drafting and understand the logic of various provisions inside a contract. In addition, because this is a form contract which aims to be generic enough to be used for different projects in the future, I was able to get a better view of the “skeleton” of a contract and grab the big picture.

After the contract was drafted, I also worked on a detailed budget sheet in supporting of the contract attachment – summary budget. It was kind of nice to take a break from Word and switch to Excel for a little bit. Through organizing the 50ish items of purchases/expenses, I learnt the process of holding an educational program in a more vivid way. That was a lot of fun.

Later last week, John and I began working on two new projects: one is revising the NCSC International Policies and Procedures; the other is preparing a grants program package for future projects use. Both of these two projects are very interesting, in different ways.

The NCSC International Policies and Procedures are for divisional use in managing and implementing rule of law projects abroad. The chapter I am working on addresses personnel policy issues, including recruitment, terms/conditions, compensation, holiday/leave, disciplinary policy and termination of employment. By reviewing and revising the procedures, I also get exposure on labor law, administration, and other relevant issues. For example, for the specific section on whistleblower protection, I did a research on whistleblower protection laws, including the Whistleblower Protection Act and Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and their application in profit and non-profit organizations. During the revision process, we start to develop a set of thorough notes on substantive modifications. It has been a very organized work process – from which I learnt a lot.

Some background information on the grants package projects: NCSC’s rule of law projects sometimes include a grants under contract (GUC) component, which requires the project to administer and issue grants to local non-governmental organizations (NGOs). For each of these projects funded by USAID, NCSC must develop a grants manual as the basis for administering a grants program. The grants manual is a guidebook with procedures and forms for implementation of a grants program, and is subject to review and approval by USAID.

Our task starts from reviewing two of the existing grants manuals, and developing from them a standard grant manual as well as a set of standard forms. There are a number of elements in the manual:  application procedures, applicant review, grant agreement, advancing funds, reporting, grants administration, grants closeout, grant forms, etc. At this time, John and I each took half of the manual and started to revise the sections. Hopefully by next week I can tell a better story on this assignment.