Circular No. A-89
August 17, 1984
TO THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS
SUBJECT: Federal Domestic Assistance Program Information
7. Action Requirements
9. Information Contact
10. Sunset Review Date
1. Purpose. This revised circular supersedes
Circular A-89, dated December 31, 1970. It provides the basis for a systematic
and periodic collection and uniform submission of information on all federally
financed domestic assistance programs to the Office of Management and Budget
(OMB) by Federal agencies. It also establishes Federal policies related to the
delivery of this information to the public, including through the use of
electronic media. The policies and responsibilities established by this
Circular apply to all executive departments and agencies as defined by Section
551(1) of Title 5, United States Code.
The information system established by this Circular is designed to
assist in identifying the types of Federal domestic assistance available,
describing eligibility requirements for the particular assistance being sought,
and providing guidance on how to apply for specific types of assistance. In
addition, it is intended to improve coordination and communication between the
Federal Government and State and local governments.
2. Rescissions. This revised Circular supersedes
OMB Circular No. A-89 dated December 31, 1970, and Transmittal Memorandum No.
1, dated June 25, 1980.
3. Authority. The Federal Program Information
Act (Public Law 95-220) was signed into law in December 1977. This Act provided
for the efficient and regular distribution of current information on Federal
domestic assistance programs. The Act was amended in October 1983 by Public Law
98-169 to give the Administrator of General Services the responsibility for
carrying out this function. The Act outlines the duties of the Administrator of
General Services and the Director of OMB. It also directs Federal agencies to
furnish information on their domestic assistance programs and serves as the
compelling mandate for collection and distribution of current information on
Federal domestic assistance programs.
4. Background. The requirements contained in
this Circular are a revision of those prescribed by OMB Circular No. A-89,
dated December 31, 1970. This Circular prescribes the manner in which
General Services Administration (GSA), OMB, and executive branch
agencies that administer domestic assistance programs are to carry out their
statutory responsibilities under the Federal Program Information Act.
5. Policy. Comprehensive information on all
Federal domestic assistance programs will be maintained by the GSA. Using that
information as the source, a Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance will be
prepared and issued annually and updated periodically, and a computerized
retrieval system, presently the Federal Assistance Programs Retrieval System
(FAPRS), will be maintained and updated by the GSA.
Executive branch agencies shall submit to OMB on a timely basis and in
accordance with instructions provided by GSA, information on all domestic
assistance programs and activities that are federally funded and that are
administered by such agency.
The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance will be the single,
authoritative, Government-wide comprehensive source document of Federal
domestic assistance program information produced by the executive branch of the
Federal Government. The Catalog is a guide to all domestic assistance programs
and activities regardless of dollar size or duration. Specifically, these
programs include general purpose aid to States and localities (general revenue
sharing and shared revenues); payments in lieu of taxes; assistance to State
and local governments to finance essential public services and productivity
efforts; indirect assistance or benefits resulting from Federal operations; and
automatic payments for which no application process is required. Any other
executive branch publication that describes a group of Federal domestic
assistance programs is considered a specialized catalog. Publications
containing comprehensive descriptions of individual programs that specify
application guidelines, administrative requirements, and other details, and
pamphlets or leaflets containing conventional public information of a
generalized nature are not considered specialized catalogs. Unless otherwise
required by law, specialized catalogs may be published only when specifically
authorized and developed within the following guidelines and criteria:
- Proposals for the development and publication of any specialized
catalog of Federal domestic assistance programs will be submitted to the
General Services Administration for approval in the conceptual planning stages.
The request for clearance will include full justification of the need for such
a specialized catalog and will clearly indicate why the particular need cannot
be adequately served by the currently available Catalog of Federal Domestic
- Whenever feasible, justifiable ad hoc needs of an agency will be
satisfied by the development of specialized user guides or supplements to the
material contained in the currently available Catalog of Federal Domestic
Assistance in lieu of developing completely separate catalogs. Continuing needs
for this type of information will generally be met by changes to the indexing
schemes or substantive content of the Catalog. Agencies will advise the General
Services Administration of their needs and proposed efforts in this area.
6. Definitions. For the purpose of this
Circular, the following definitions shall apply:
a. A "federal domestic assistance program" is any function of a Federal
agency that provides assistance or benefits for a State or States, territorial
possession, county, city, other political subdivision, grouping, or
instrumentality thereof; any domestic profit or nonprofit corporation,
institution, or individual, other than an agency of the Federal Government. A
Federal domestic assistance program may in practice be called a program, an
activity, a service, a project, a process, or some other name, regardless of
whether it is identified as a separate program by statute or regulation. It
will be identified in terms of its legal authority, administering office,
funding, purpose, benefits, and beneficiaries.
b. "Assistance" or "benefits" refers to the transfer of money,
property, services, or anything of value, the principal purpose of which is to
accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by Federal
statute. Assistance includes, but is not limited to grants, loans, loan
guarantees, scholarships, mortgage loans, insurance, and other types of
financial assistance; provision or donation of Federal facilities, goods,
services, property, technical assistance, counseling, statistical, and other
expert information; and service activities of regulatory agencies. It does not
include provision of conventional public information services.
c. Federal agency means any agency as defined by Section 551(1) of
Title 5, United States Code.
d. Administering office means the lowest subdivision of any Federal
agency that has direct operational responsibility for managing a Federal
domestic assistance program.
7. Action Requirements. The head of each
executive department and establishment shall establish internal policies,
procedures, and responsibilities to implement the policies contained in this
Circular and shall provide overall direction for establishing a mechanism for
collecting, coordinating, and submitting current program information.
In particular, the head of each executive department and establishment
shall be responsible for assuring that information on each domestic assistance
program administered by such agency is collected, maintained, and submitted to
OMB. This includes narrative and financial program information on all funded
programs as defined and outlined in special reporting instructions transmitted
by GSA to the agencies and departments.
Toward this end, each agency or department shall:
a. Establish procedures of administrative control to assure the adequacy
and timeliness of program information collected and submitted.
b. Designate a single office within the department or agency to:
-- monitor and coordinate the federally funded domestic assistance
program information of the agency or department;
-- maintain a complete inventory of all funded programs that is derived
from the basic program data of the individual agency or department information
This inventory shall include information on one-time programs and
programs of short duration, as well as on continuing programs; and
-- assure that all new and amended program information shall contain
the official GSA program number and title when published in the Federal
Register as any type of Federal assistance program announcement. This includes
but is not limited to entries published as final regulations and amendments
under the Rules and Regulations Section, as well as notices of any kind
pertaining to ongoing programs.
c. Request prior approval for the preparation, publication, and
distribution of all specialized catalogs or supplements, except where there is
statutory authorization for such catalogs or supplements. Any proposed
specialized catalog format must be as nearly identical to the Catalog format as
possible in order to eliminate inconsistencies in program data reporting.
Anticipated continuous need for a particular type of information will be
conveyed to GSA for consideration of Catalog reformatting to accommodate such
GSA is responsible for maintaining an efficient and effective program
information system. Toward this end, GSA shall:
a. Issue detailed reporting instructions to Federal agencies and
departments governing the collection of information needed for the Federal
assistance information data base.
b. Maintain an information data base of Federal domestic assistance
programs and activities.
c. Provide information to the general public through a printed catalog
and electronic media on all Federal domestic assistance programs.
d. Plan and make improvements in the information data base and continue
to seek ways to disseminate the information.
e. Provide information to Congress through printed media on all Federal
domestic assistance programs that employ a formula.
For each Federal domestic assistance program, the data base will
include but not be limited to the following information:
a. Program number and title.
b. Popular name, if applicable.
c. Federal department/agency or independent agency and primary
organizational subunit administering the program.
d. Authorizing legislation, including popular name of the act, titles
and sections, public law number, citation to the United States Code, and
e. Objectives and goals of the program.
f. Type(s) of financial and nonfinancial assistance offered by the
g. Uses and restrictions placed upon a program.
h. Eligibility requirements, including applicant eligibility criteria,
beneficiary eligibility criteria and required credentials and/or
i. Application and award processing, containing pre- application
coordination; application and award procedure; application deadlines; range of
approval/disapproval time; appeal procedure; and availability of a renewal or
extension of assistance. Most circular coordination requirements are included
in this section.
j. Assistance considerations, including an explanation of the award
formula and matching requirements and the length and time phasing of the
k. Post assistance requirements, including any reports, audits, and
records that may be required.
l. Financial assistance, containing the 11-digit account identification
code; obligations for the past fiscal year and estimates for the current fiscal
year and for the budget year; and a range and average of financial
m. Program accomplishments (where available), describing quantitative
measures of program performance.
n. Regulations, guidelines, and literature containing citations to the
Code of Federal Regulations and other pertinent informational materials.
o. The names of persons to be contacted (or telephone number) for
detailed program information at the headquarters, regional, and local
p. Programs that are related based upon objectives and uses.
q. Examples of funded projects to indicate proposals that are
acceptable under particular programs, and
r. Criteria used in selecting proposals for award, i.e., additional
information on application review and award procedure.
The Catalog will contain but will not be limited to the following:
a. An introductory section that contains Catalog highlights, an
explanation of the Federal Assistance Programs Retrieval System, a section on
how to use the Catalog, an explanation of the Catalog and its contents, and
suggested proposal writing methods and grant application procedures.
b. A comprehensive indexing system that categorizes programs by their
agency, eligible applicant, application deadlines, function, popular name, and
c. Listings showing the programs that have been deleted from or added
to the Catalog and the various program number and title changes.
d. Program descriptions that will contain the information included in
the Federal domestic assistance information data base.
e. Comprehensive appendices showing Federal assistance programs that
require coordination through the system of Federal circulars, legislative and
Executive Order authority for each program, commonly used abbreviations and
acronyms, agency regional and local office addresses, and sources of additional
The Catalog is issued as a complete looseleaf document in the spring of
each year and updated periodically to accommodate subsequent changes in
specifically selected information. As
required by the Law, GSA distributes free copies of the Catalog to
Federal, State, and local government offices. At the national level, copies are
provided to: Members of Congress, congressional staff, and executive branch
agencies. At the State level, copies of the Catalog are provided to: Governors,
State coordinators of Federal-State relations, Directors of State Departments
of Administration and Budget Offices, Directors of State Departments of
Community Affairs, Directors of State Planning Agencies, State clearinghouses,
Directors of State Agricultural Extension Services, State Municipal Leagues,
State Association of Counties, chief State school officers, and State
Employment Security Agencies. At the local level, copies are provided to:
Mayors, County Chairmen, Chairmen of Boards of Commissioners, and city
planners. Copies are also provided to the Federal Information Centers, Federal
Regional Councils, Federal Executive Boards, Federal Depository Libraries and
appropriate field, and area offices of most Federal agencies. The Catalog is
also provided to other agencies of State and local governments.
The Catalog is sold on a subscription basis to private individuals and
organizations not specified above. The purchaser is entitled to issues at a
subscription rate determined by the Public Printer. The Catalog is distributed
by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, as
required by Section 1902 of Title 44 of the United States Code.
The Federal Assistance Programs Retrieval System (FAPRS) is an
electronic medium of information dissemination, a computerized retrieval system
that provides access to the data base of programs that are in the Catalog. The
purpose of this system is to help the public identify sources of Federal
FAPRS operates on a question and answer format to retrieve information
on applicable programs. It does this by matching the characteristics of a
community and its needs (which are supplied by the prospective applicant) with
Federal programs (identified by title and number) that might provide assistance
to meet those needs. FAPRS serves as a research tool to help reduce the manual
effort required (when using the Catalog) to identify Federal programs useful to
a potential applicant.
8. OMB Responsibilities. OMB is responsible for
collecting and reviewing information on Federal domestic assistance programs
and providing such information to GSA. Also, the Director shall be responsible
for assuring that the Administrator of GSA incorporates all relevant
information received on a regular basis.
9. Information Contact. Further information may
be obtained by contacting the Federal Program Information Branch at the General
Services Administration or by contacting the Budget Review Division at the
Office of Management and Budget.
10. Sunset Review Date.The provisions of this
Circular are effective upon issuance. The policies promulgated in this Circular
will be reviewed no later than three years from date of issuance.
David A. Stockman
The Budget | Legislative Information | Management Reform/GPRA
Financial Management | Procurement Policy | Information & Regulatory Policy
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