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Federal Funding Drives Short-term Grants Program Needs and Long-term Benefits for Jefferson County, AL 


With the major influx of Federal funds to cities and counties across the nation over the past three years, local jurisdictions must spend their multi-million-dollar allocations in line with rigorous Federal compliance. Compliance measures must be built in to every part of the Federal grants lifecycle—from program design, through procurement, contracting, monitoring and closeout. This requires evaluating scores of program proposals to ensure they meet eligibility parameters and monitoring program expenses to ensure they meet cost-reasonableness requirements.

Access to ample Federal funding has been a lifeline for jurisdictions during and after the pandemic, enabling critical emergency response and sorely needed infrastructure improvements. For many, however, it has led to significant resource challenges. Finding and hiring workers with the requisite skills and experience to manage compliance monitoring and reporting has been arduous and costly. Further, due to the short-term nature of these funds, bringing on full-time program compliance talent is impractical.


Facing a capacity challenge, Jefferson County enlisted Witt O’Brien’s to manage multiple Federal grants programs—including the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), and the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (CSLFRF).

Witt O’Brien’s provided end-to-end Federal grants management support for the County’s $126 million CSLFRF allocation. Our experienced grants managers supported all aspects of the grants lifecycle—including program design, procurement, subrecipient selection, and program contract development. The team also supported program management; billing and invoice reviews; and training and technical assistance for contractors, vendors, and subrecipients. Since the initial engagement, the Witt O’Brien’s team has provided technical assistance and support to over 60 local organizations.

Witt O’Brien’s also assisted the County with all aspects of Federal grants compliance—including fiscal, procurement, eligibility, policy, data and evaluation, monitor and control, and closeout. This included subject matter experts in areas such as housing, transportation, education, fleet vehicle purchasing, environmental and historic preservation (EHP), infrastructure, and environmental services.

In addition to managing the CSLFRF program, Witt O’Brien’s supported the County with staff augmentation and Federal compliance for their $85 million ERAP allocation. Working in partnership with the County and directly with local community partners, the Witt O’Brien’s team has assisted the County in expenditures of their initial ERAP 1 as well as their ERAP 2 allocations.


The County has successfully allocated and spent CSLFRF funds to support several vital community projects including:

  • A $3 million affordable housing program that will immediately build 16 affordable new homes and create a repayment fund, reinvesting the $3 million for a 20-year period.
  • A $3 million program to assist negatively impacted entities dedicated to preserving and enhancing the history and legacy of the Civil Rights Movement in Jefferson County.
  • A $1.4 million food insecurity program for qualified nonprofit entities in Jefferson County to implement various food assistance models for at-risk households.
  • Over $41 million in infrastructure projects.
On the ERAP front, Witt O’Brien’s has also advised the County on opportunities for voluntary reallocation of funds and conducted analyses to bring the State to the table and discuss—and ultimately agree to—reallocation of more than
$20 million in ERAP 1 and ERAP 2 funds.

Jefferson County’s decision to augment its grants management and compliance capacity, by bringing in experienced Federal funding practitioners, is a shining example of smart governance that solved a short-term resource challenge while providing long-term community resilience.