The Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act of 1977 (FGCAA) sets forth the requirements for using cooperative agreements and grants to transfer funds to non-federal entities. However, use of cooperative agreements must be specifically authorized, and the FGCAA does not provide such authority. There is no general authority for the Corps to use cooperative agreements.
A cooperative agreement is a legal nonprocurement assistance instrument as described by 31 USC 63, the Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act where funds (or a thing of value) are being transferred to a partner, where the primary purpose is to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation. Cooperative agreements are used when USACE anticipates having "substantial involvement" with the partner for program performance. Substantial involvement may include having the option to halt an activity if specifications aren't met, requiring approval of one phase before allowing the next to start, or monitoring performance to provide specific direction of the work. It wouldn't be considered substantial involvement if the USACE role is solely to approve plans before award, review progress, ensure terms and conditions are met, or provide advice.
These agreements must be executed by a certified grants officer. Procedures for administering these agreements must comply with Department of Defense Directive 3210.06 (Defense Grant and Agreement Regulatory System (DGARS).
USACE authority for cooperative agreements within the NRM CoP is limited to the following specific types/purposes:
Management of Undesirable Plants
Educational and training activities
Research and development
Agreements with Indian Tribes
Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units (CESU)
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