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Challenge Partnership Program Frequently Asked Questions Banner

Challenge Partnership Program - Frequently Asked Questions

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    Q. What partners are eligible to participate in the Challenge Partnership Program?
    A. The Challenge Partnership Program allows Corps of Engineers Projects to accept cash, funds, materials, and services from any non-Federal private and public partners that does not create a conflict of interest or comprise the integrity of the Corps of Engineers.

    Q. Is there a sample Challenge Partnership Agreement available?
    A. Yes, see Challenge Partnership Agreements page for examples of past agreements from around the Corps

    Q. Does the Corps offer money to projects with Challenge Partnerships?
    A. Yes, in some circumstances the Corps will provide money to foster new partnerships or strengthen existing partnerships for work programs. Please visit the Handshake Program for more information.

    Q. What is the difference in a Contribution and a Challenge Partnership?
    A. Contributions are funds, materials, equipment and/or services given to the Corps and must meet the requirements of a project-level OMP and a contributions plan. Contributions become Corps property without further participation by the contributor. Challenge partnerships allow through a formal agreement the acceptance of funds, materials, and services to accomplish specific recreation and resource work programs. Partners may be involved in the management of the work project. Services (labor) accepted through either program are counted as Volunteers and are captured in NRM Assessment in the Annual NRM data module and the Partnerships module.

    Q. Is a Challenge Partnership Agreement the same thing as a Handshake Agreement?
    A. No. The Handshake Partnership Program is a specific incentive program developed by HQUSACE to encourage partnerships by providing national funding through a competitive process. When the Handshake Program commenced in 2004, all Handshake partnerships required a Challenge Partnership Agreement. This often led to confusion and erroneous use of the terms interchangeably. All Handshake Partnerships had to have a Challenge Partnership Agreement, but not all Challenge Partnership Agreements were part of the Handshake Program.

    Q. Are there any prohibitions in entering into a challenge partnership with an organization based outside the United States?
    A. No. As long as the legal authority exits, there is no restriction that limits these types of partnerships to U.S. entities only.

    Q. What are the approval levels for accepting contributions?
    A. See Chart for guidance

    Q. Are Challenge Partnership Agreements the same thing as traditional cost-sharing agreements or Project Cooperating Agreements?
    A. No, Traditional cost-sharing agreements, which were authorized by Public Law 89-72 require a minimum of 50% partner funding for recreational management and 25% for fish and wildlife enhancement; administration of the lands and waters by the partner; and all costs of operation, maintenance, and replacement by the partner. Under the WRDA 1992 authority for challenge partnerships, there is no fixed rate of cost share. Flexible percentages are determined by mutual agreement between the Corps and the partners. Roles of each entity are also flexible. The Corps operates the area under the partnership under a flexible agreement. Work may involve multiple partners. Challenge partnership agreements are also NOT the same as Project Cooperation Agreements, or Economy Act Orders.

    Q. Are Challenge Partnerships a type of cooperative agreement that must be administered by a grants officer?
    A. Challenge partnership agreements are NOT cooperative agreements as that term is used in the Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act of 1977, 31 U.S.C. 6305 (FGCAA), nor are they subject to the DOD regulations governing cooperative agreements, including the requirement for execution by a certified grants officer. Although Sec 225 of 33 USC 2328 uses the term cooperative agreement, it involves a type of transaction not covered by the FGCAA. A cooperative agreement under the FGCAA involves transfer of funds (or other items) from the Federal Government to a non-Federal entity. Conversely, a challenge partnership agreement involves the acceptance of funds, materials, and services by the Federal Government.

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