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Managing financial transactions, particularly moving funds, between two or more agencies can be a challenging aspect of Service First. While agencies can share staff, resources, equipment and workloads, funding and expenditures have to be tracked and reported by agency. Fortunately, all four agencies basically have the same process for moving funds. There may be different terms and different forms, but essentially, we all follow the same rules and regulations.
There are two main methods of moving money between agencies to fulfill the terms of Service First agreement: reimbursable accounts and direct transfers.
The Interagency MOU allows all agencies to use Interagency Agreement - Agreement Between Federal Agencies (IAA), FMS-7600B to establish reimbursable accounts for Service First projects. Specifically:
- Agencies must establish a separate IAA for each project or category of projects
- The billing process must ensure that payments are correctly applied against appropriated funds
- Establish reimbursable accounts on at least an annual basis
- Advance payment may not exceed 50% of order amount
- Document each agency’s obligations, awards, modifications and payments during the life of the contract
Agencies do not need to complete a separate MOU for their specific project(s). The Interagency MOU is a blanket MOU that all agencies can use and cite. Remember, MOUs are not fund vehicles and cannot obligate funds. In other words, you cannot move money from one agency to another using an MOU. You must create a separate obligating agreement, using specific forms provided by each agency, whether you are the receiver of funds or the payer of funds.
The two agencies’ staff negotiates the deliverables of the agreement, considering scope of work and cost elements, duration of agreement, special reporting or timeframes, billing frequency, supervision and standard operating procedures, and any delegation of authority requirements. Please involve your respective grants and agreement staff at this point.
Once you have this form filled out, follow both agencies’ policies for processing agreements. Generally, you will need to have an agreement specialist review your agreement prior to have a manager sign it. Some agencies have automated databases, such as the Forest Service’s I-WEB database, while others do not. You need to discuss the process and steps with your grants and agreements specialists.
When the agreement has been signed, a reimbursable account will be created by the agency receiving the funds to charge to when fulfilling the terms of the agreement.
Service First authority provides for agencies to enter into reimbursable agreements, but also to directly transfer funds via Treasury Codes to another agency. This is a new process and is currently being piloted at several sites across the country. At this point, this option is not open to all units nation-wide, but based on the outcome of the pilots, we are crafting procedures and criteria for use.
When estimated costs for Service First agencies for a longstanding project(s), co-location, or position(s) are generally the same, the agencies may enter into an arrangement (not a formal Interagency Agreement) to provide for offsetting of the costs for goods or services that will be exchanged between the agencies.