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WIAPL 14-03.1 (Disaster National Emergency Grants)
Workforce Investment Act Policy Letter No. 14-03.1
December 19, 2014
TO: Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs), Fiscal Agents, Administrative Entities, and OhioMeansJobs Center Operators
FROM: Cynthia C. Dungey, Director
SUBJECT: Disaster National Emergency Grants

I.Purpose

To provide the requirements of Disaster National Emergency Grants (D-NEGs) and to assist the local areas in the development of local policies when implementing disaster grants.

II.Effective Date

Immediately

III.Background

Disaster National Emergency Grants are discretionary grants intended to temporarily expand and complement resources and service capacity at the state and local levels. D-NEGs provide supplemental funding to ensure an effective response to specific, significant and unanticipated natural disasters that have been declared eligible for public assistance by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Disaster grants provide temporary employment and supportive services to eligible dislocated workers and long term unemployed individuals to assist with clean-up activities. Disaster grants help provide food, shelter and related humanitarian services, and perform demolition, cleaning, repair, renovation and construction of damage or destroyed public structures/facilities and lands located within a designated disaster area.

IV.Requirements

With the approval from FEMA's Public Assistance Declaration, the following D-NEG activities occur within the given timelines:

  • The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) submits the Emergency application to U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) within fifteen (15) calendar days of the FEMA declaration;
  • USDOL acts upon state's request within thirty (30) calendar days of receiving the application;
  • Funds are awarded;
  • D-NEG services and clean-up work begin;
  • ODJFS submits a fully documented application to USDOL within sixty (60) calendar days of the grant award; and
  • After the approval from USDOL of the full application and if requested in the Special Terms and Conditions stated within the approval letter, within sixty (60) calendar days ODJFS must submit a Disaster Project Operating Plan (POP) to USDOL.

A.Application Process

Following the FEMA declaration that a disaster is eligible for public assistance, ODJFS has fifteen (15) calendar days to submit the FEMA declaration along with the initial application to the USDOL, Region 5 Employment and Training Administration (ETA), Representative. The initial application should only address the temporary job creation component.

Local areas within the disaster area will be invited to apply for a D-NEG. ODJFS may require a brief emergency application from local areas after the disaster declaration, followed by a more detailed application after the state's emergency request is approved. ODJFS will provide application templates and deadline dates, as well as provide technical assistance to areas on filling out the applications and estimating their needs. Local areas who submit valid and complete applications within the deadlines will be included in the state's application to the federal level.

Within sixty (60) calendar days of the grant award, ODJFS must submit a fully documented application to USDOL.

B.Award Notification

USDOL will issue a denial or grant award letter, also known as a Notice of Obligation (NOO), to ODJFS. The award letter will give the total fund availability, the special terms and conditions that must be met to use the funding, and the requirements for submission of a plan and/or modification requests. Upon receiving approval of federal funding, participating local areas will receive an allocation notice and any related guidance specific to this D-NEG.

Disaster projects are funded incrementally. A maximum funding level will be approved, but a lesser amount will be initially disbursed. Note: The maximum approved "up to" amount is NOT a commitment.

Requirements for additional funding increments will be specified in the NOO. Funding will be based on achieving a level of project implementation where a justifiable projection of additional funds are needed to complete the project can be developed. Traditionally, this is measured by having all planned participants enrolled or assessed; knowing the full amount of the training and supportive service obligations; having all proposed project staff on-board; and having three to four months of operating expenditure information available.

C.Disaster Project Operating Plan (POP)

ODJFS must submit a POP describing the implementation in detail within sixty (60) calendar days of the full application's approval letter to USDOL. The POP should be a cumulative document that includes plans from all local areas approved for the grant under the FEMA declaration including the following elements:

  • Description of the coordination between FEMA and the grantee;
  • Updated information on all community planning activities;
  • Status of the participant recruitment activities;
  • Copies of signed agreements with each proposed Project Operator/ Local Area Representative;
  • A completed Planning Form (ETA 9103);
  • A staff planning form that describes proposed staffing by job title, fulltime equivalent staff to be assigned, salary and benefit rates for each staff position;
  • Worksite Plans detailing all approved worksites;
  • Specific jobs to be performed and wage levels for each;
  • Employer of Record for the workers;
  • Identification of special equipment required to perform work and source of funding for the equipment;
  • Description of the responsibilities for paying wages and the controls for ensuring participant time limits are complied with;
  • Description of policies governing supportive services to participants; and
  • Description of the monitoring responsibilities and procedures that will be followed by the grantee.

The POP will be one source of information to be reviewed by USDOL staff in determining future needs for the project. The existence and completeness of the operating plan will be a pre-condition for the release of additional funding increments. It is the responsibility of ODJFS to take appropriate action to ensure the POP is followed through to the conclusion of each disaster grant in a timely manner.

Local areas in receipt of D-NEG funds will assist ODJFS in preparing the project operation plan.

D.Modifications

ODJFS will be required to submit request(s), also known as Modification(s), for additional or the balance of needed funds, as supported by enrollment and expenditures. Project operators will notify ODJFS when modifications to the grant may be necessary, and will assist in the modification process. Circumstances that require requesting a grant modification include:

  • Providing workforce development services to participants who cannot return to work once the temporary jobs component of a disaster grant is completed;
  • Requesting an increase in the area's commitment of funding to continue providing services;
  • Changing the project performance period;
  • Adding, removing, or revising project operator information;
  • Reflecting variances that result in more than a ten (10) percent increase in cost per participant;
  • Reporting changes to the organization's approved indirect cost rate;
  • Altering the approved amount for supportive services; and
  • Adjusting project performance goals.

V.Disaster NEG Implementation

The following activities must be implemented by all local areas in receipt of D-NEG allocations.

A.Participant Enrollment

Eligible D-NEG participants include those who are:

  • Temporarily or permanently laid off as a result of disaster event(s) and eligible for public assistance through FEMA declaration;
  • Dislocated workers as defined in WIA section 101(9);
  • Long-term unemployed as defined by the state.

The initial purpose of D-NEGs is temporary job creation to provide clean-up, restoration and humanitarian assistance to communities that have been affected by a disaster event. Temporary disaster jobs are limited to public and private non-profit agencies.

An individual participant on a disaster project may be employed for a maximum duration of six (6) months (1,040 hours). The period of employment may extend beyond six (6) calendar months if, for example, the participants are employed part-time or must be off work for a period of time. The maximum level of wages paid to a participant is $12,000.00, excluding the cost of fringe benefits. Priority must be given to individuals affected by the disaster event followed by dislocated workers and the long-term unemployed. The temporary job will constitute employment, and all wages earned on the job during the week in which unemployment benefits are claimed, will be considered deductible income. These wages must be reported during the weeks they are earned, and may result in a deduction in the weekly benefit amount of unemployment benefits otherwise payable for that week, up to the full weekly benefit amount.

B.Other Considerations for D-NEGs

Suitability

Given the physical demands associated with the work performed under most D-NEG projects, local areas must assess applicants and participants to ensure that they are able to safely perform the duties. Local areas are encouraged to perform narcotic screenings and physical examinations on applicants for D-NEG positions, the costs of which may be charged to the grant. Position descriptions for each job classification explaining the nature of the working conditions and the physical requirements (e.g., ability to bend and stoop, lift over fifty (50) pounds, etc.) must be developed and provided to applicants for D-NEG employment.

Workplace Safety

Local areas must provide D-NEG participants with a work environment free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm. Initial and on-going safety instruction must be provided to participants on relevant topics such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), First Aid, chainsaw operation, etc. The OSHA workplace compliance poster (see http://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3165.pdf) must be posted and visible to all employees.

Public sector project operators are strongly encouraged to work with the Public Employee Risk Reduction Program (PERRP) on receiving safety trainings, compliance assistance visits, site-specific evaluations, etc. All D-NEG project operators must implement policies, procedures, controls, and standards as necessary to ensure compliance with OSHA standards relevant to their operation such as personal protective equipment, rigging operations, logging operations, use of Material Safety Data Sheets, working with flammable and combustible liquids, etc.

ODJFS strongly encourages all D-NEG project operators to schedule a Compliance Assistance Visit from the Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) every six (6) months during D-NEG operations. This is an opportunity for BWC to make recommendations without penalty and to provide training on compliance measures. Non-compliance with OSHA Standards has the potential to result in violations and costly fines for both public and private sector employers.

Equipment and Supplies

Areas must receive prior approval before leasing or purchasing any equipment item (i.e., any tangible item that costs over $5,000 per unit with a useful life of over one year.) The request for prior approval must include a list of the equipment purchases or leases; estimated cost; method of procurement; comparison between lease cost and purchase cost; reasons supporting the decision to lease or purchase; the purpose or need for the equipment; availability of similar equipment from the state/local emergency management agency or from the area or county in which it will be utilized; and intended manner of disposition at the end of the project. Equipment items should be included in the area's initial application for D-NEG funds and/or identified to ODJFS whenever new items are to be acquired.

The cost and types of supply items should also be projected in the application, although prior approval is not required for purchase. At the end of the project, areas must provide a list of all residual equipment and supply items and explain how the items will be disposed of.

C.Policy Review

Local areas are permitted to implement disaster grant services based on existing policies, or may institute policies specific to the disaster projects population to better meet the unique needs of the participants while maximizing the usage of available funds. However, when a disaster grant is operated across a region, the participating local WIA areas are required to coordinate their policy decisions and/or establish regional policies for the highest possible level of consistency in service delivery in a manner that ensures the requirements of the disaster grant are met.

D.Participant Tracking

Project operator(s) must ensure that all eligible participants who receive Disaster NEG-funded services are properly entered into the state-provided tracking system (client and reporting), Ohio Workforce Case Management System (OWCMS). Entry of D-NEG participants and services may require staff to sign into OWCMS using a Special Grant Office rather than the usual local area program office.

Alternative tracking methods may also be used depending on the nature of the D-NEG. The procedures for tracking D-NEG participants and services will be communicated by ODJFS when the grant is awarded and must be followed. Local areas are required to maintain accurate and current case management notes within OWCMS and alternative tracking method, as appropriate.

Participants enrolled solely in the D-NEGs will not count in the local area's performance measures, but those co-enrolled in both D-NEG and local WIA formula-funded services will be included in local performance measures.

E.Fiscal Reporting

The designated fiscal agent(s) for the D-NEG will receive a list of fiscal codes with their relative definitions for reporting allowable costs to the D-NEG through the County Finance Information System (CFIS). Accurate and timely reporting is crucial as this information is used to help ODJFS administer the grant and to request additional funding increments from USDOL.

Proper reporting includes: obligations (resources on order) and accruals (good and services received but expenses not yet paid). Documentation is required for all expenditures charged to the grant. This includes timekeeping information (e.g., time clock, sign-in sheet, employee submission of hours worked, or other verifiable method of recordation) and other administrative charges (e.g., building space, computers, etc.).

Fiscal agents must adhere to ODJFS fiscal rules as codified in rules 5101:9-7-04, WIA Local Area Financing and Cash Management, and 5101:9-7-04.1, WIA Local Area Quarterly Reconciliation of the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC).

Fiscal agents are cautioned that the use of D-NEG expenditure code for "other," should be kept to a minimum. Fiscal agents can only use this code after consultation with the ODJFS Grants unit. In many cases, the costs being classified as "other" can be properly classified to a different allowable expenditure line.

F.Supplemental Reports

ODJFS is required to submit bi-weekly reports for the first three (3) months of each grant. In addition, ODJFS is required to submit a quarterly report to USDOL within forty-five (45) days from the end of each calendar quarter. Information related to participant counts and expenditures will be gathered from the data entered into the participant and fiscal tracking systems as described in sections C and D of this policy.

Project operator(s) are required to submit a D-NEG bi-weekly report to ODJFS for the first three months, and a monthly report thereafter, to supplement the data. The project operator(s) will receive a report form, instructions, and deadlines for submission from ODJFS. All supplemental reports must be completed and submitted by the specified deadline dates.

G.Meetings and Training Sessions

Successful implementation of D-NEG services requires meetings to coordinate services and share information. Also, training and technical assistance will be provided as needed. All local areas receiving D-NEG allocations are required to send appropriate staff to participate in meetings and trainings.

VI.Compliance

Local areas, project operators, and subrecipients of D-NEG funds must adhere to all federal, state and county rules, laws and regulations and other limitations or provisions identified by ODJFS. Refer to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-87 and A-122 for fiscal provisions.

To ensure compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and to protect valuable habitats and endangered species, all disaster projects where participants will be entering or impacting natural areas must ensure that activities are not negatively affecting endangered species or their habitats. NEPA and ESA require D-NEG projects to either affirm to Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) that there are no endangered species or habitats within the project area(s), or to consult with FWS to mitigate negative impacts where there are endangered species or protected habitats before beginning any work in those areas.

VII.Worksites

Each local area will maintain a list of worksites where Disaster NEG-funded activities have occurred or are expected to occur before the grant ends. Areas should work with the emergency management agency, elected officials, county engineer, or other officials in the affected locales to identify potential worksites. This list must be updated as worksite activities are completed or new worksites are identified, and must be made available upon request. Worksites must meet D-NEG requirements, such as being on public property. If the participants must cross private property in order to gain access to the worksite, the area must secure a right-of-access agreement with the landowner(s) of the private property.

VIII.Monitoring

Local areas must develop their own monitoring policies outlining the procedures, frequency and manner in which disaster grants will be monitored and how staff will resolve any findings of non-compliance.

At a minimum, staff or monitors should review the following on a monthly basis:

  • Documentation of information received directly from participants;
  • Ensured use of required safety protective gear;
  • Employer payroll records;
  • Participant file documentation (e.g. eligibility, intake);
  • Program fiscal records, including timekeeping information and administrative charges;
  • Reporting documents;
  • Observations of workplace safety;
  • Assessment of environmental hazards;
  • Participant reporting in OWCMS; and
  • Fiscal reporting in CFIS.

Through the state's monitoring system, program and fiscal monitors will review the area's implementation of D-NEGs during the annual onsite monitoring review for compliance with federal and state laws and regulations. Any issues will be handled through the state's monitoring resolution process.

VIII.Technical Assistance

For additional information, you may send your questions to the Office of Workforce Development: NEG@JFS.OHIO.GOV.

IX.References

Workforce Investment Act of 1998 §173, Pub. L. No. 105-220.

Workforce Investment Act, Final Rules, Fed. Reg. Vol. 65, No. 156, pp.49460-49461 (August 11, 2000).

Workforce Investment Act: National Emergency Grants-Application Procedures, Fed. Reg. Vol. 69, No.81, pp. 23051-23081 (April 27, 2004).

29 CFR §§ 97.32-97.33.

29 CFR § 97.40(a).

Training and Employment Guidance Letter No. 16-03, National Emergency Grant (NEG) Policy Guidance, (January 26, 2004).

Training and Employment Guidance Letter No. 16-03, Change 1, National Emergency Grant (NEG) Policy Guidance - Assistance for Returning Members of the National Guard and Military Reserves (August 18, 2004).

Training and Employment Guidance Letter No. 16-03, Change 2, Use of National Emergency Grant (NEG) Funds Under the Workforce Investment Act, as Amended, to support Activities Related to the 2005 Defense Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC2005) Commission (May 24, 2005).

Training and Employment Guidance Letter No. 16-03, Change 3, National Emergency Grant (NEG) Policy Guidance - Use of NEG Funds to Support Disaster Relief Employment and Training Assistance for Individuals Impacted by Hurricane Katrina (October 14, 2005).

Training and Employment Guidance Letter No. 16-03, Change 4, National Emergency Grants (NEGs) - Use of NEG Funds Under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), as Amended, to Support Employment-Related Assistance for Workers Affected by the 2005 Defense Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC 2005) Actions (July 13, 2006).

Training and Employment Guidance Letter No. 16-03, Change 5, Regional Innovation Grants - Use of National Emergency Grant Funds Under the Workforce Investment Act, as Amended, to Support Regional Strategic Planning Activities Related to Major Economic Dislocations (April 27, 2007).

OAC 5101:9-7-04 (December 2, 2011).

OAC 5101:9-7-04.1 (October 12, 2012).

ODJFS, Fiscal Administrative Procedure Manual Transmittal Letter (FAPMTL) No. 205, Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Financing, Reconciliation, and Closeout Procedures (July 5, 2011).

Rescission

Workforce Investment Act Policy Letter No. 14-03 Disaster National Emergency Grant, (September 11, 2014).