Project Director Best Practices Training

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Project Director Best Practices Training

  1. 1. Project Directors Best Practices Training NCALL Research, Updated October 2008
  2. 2. Throughout this slide presentation, NCALL’s recommended “best practices” will be notated with a *BP.
  3. 3. The Grantee and Rural Development Relationship
  4. 4. The Grantee and Rural Development Relationship  *BP Maintaining a good relationship with Rural Development is one of the most important aspects of a successful program  Partner to achieve goals
  5. 5. Ingredients for a Successful Relationship  Respect  Communication  Appreciation  Common Goals  Courtesy  Mutual Commitment  Understood Expectations  Trust
  6. 6.  *BPIn order to keep the lines of communication open, hold regular meetings with Rural Development. These meetings:  Reinforce the concept of Rural Development in the advisory role  Provide practical methods for resolving and preventing problems  Improve Rural Development’s staff capability in monitoring 523 grants
  7. 7.  Quarterly Review Meetings  Will be discussed later  Weekly discussions  When will dockets be turned in  When will checks be signed  Suggestions of land or clients  Participant, supplier or subcontractor problems  Monthly meetings  New ANs  New policies  Review progress  Discuss pertinent subjects
  8. 8. Grant Basics
  9. 9. See Guide for Definitions of:  Mutual Self-Help  Participating family  Technical assistance
  10. 10. Grant Approval  RD will execute 1940-1 Request for Obligation of Funds  Initial advance requested on 440-57, Acknowledgement of Obligated Funds Check Request  Amount here should cover remainder of first month and second month  Subsequent requests cover one month only
  11. 11. Grant Closing  Grant closed on date Grant Agreement is executed  No expenses can be charged before that date  Rural Development Manager authorized to execute Grant Agreement
  12. 12. Grant Agreement  Very important document  Be aware of the requirements and terms in agreement  Take time to read and understand it
  13. 13. Grant Closeout Procedures  Construction  Must be completed before closeout  RD and local officials do final inspections  Certificate of Occupancy issued  Materials removed from lots  Landscaping complete
  14. 14.  Equipment  All equipment must be accounted for  Lease and inventory records closed out  Financial Report  Report and audit submitted within 90 days  Complete accounting of grant funds  Refund to RD any unused funds  Staff  Depends on conclusion & continued employment
  15. 15.  Contracts/Consultants  Review and closeout agreements  Program Reports  Submit all reports to RD and T&MA Contractor  502 Accounts  Closeout and audit  Disposition of Records  Files should be kept, accessible to Rural Development  Retain for 3 years
  16. 16. Program Criteria
  17. 17. Program Criteria  Mutual Self-Help Housing Program has certain ideals that must be maintained  Participant labor tasks  TA Cost  Production  Service to VLI  Modest housing  Sweat equity
  18. 18. Participant Labor Tasks  Participants required to perform 65% of tasks, can do more  Tasks broken down in Exhibit B-2  Skimping here cheats program and participants  Discuss substitute labor  Use volunteers sparingly
  19. 19. Technical Assistance Cost  Keep track of TA cost  Used to judge effectiveness and efficiency of organization  Stay within TA cost agreed upon  There is no more money available
  20. 20. Production  Build the number of homes in grant agreement  Keeps organization operating within TA cost  Grantees judged on accomplishing grant requirements
  21. 21. Service to Very Low Income  Regulation requires service to at least 40% VLI  Can be harder to qualify  These households can greatly benefit  Make it a priority  Grant judged on this requirement
  22. 22. Modest Housing  Must be modest, safe and sanitary  Prohibited features:  In-ground swimming pools  Structures designed for income producing facilities  Lot size cannot be subdivided  Cost of property cannot exceed Rural Development loan limit  Modest plans easier to build  Provides long-term affordability  Less expensive to maintain  Stretches 502 dollars
  23. 23. Equity  Participants expect to save money  Crucial to see significant savings  More than one way to save:  Participant labor  Bulk purchasing  Accurate cost estimates  RD may enact equity requirement
  24. 24. Grant Management
  25. 25. Management Basics  There are 5 basic functions of management  Planning  Setting goals and objectives, policies, procedures and plans  Thinking before acting  Organizing  Decides how the work will be divided and accomplished
  26. 26.  Staffing  Task of selecting orienting and training employees  Directing  Guiding, teaching and supervising subordinates  Controlling  Determining whether or not plans are being met  Correcting deviations and shortcomings
  27. 27. Grant Oversight  Success depends on continuous evaluation  Track financial status and program operations  Recognize when spending and progress are out-of-sync  Determine if a modification is necessary
  28. 28.  Key benchmarks – recruitment, land, construction, finances  Review monthly fiscal report  Create and review construction and recruitment schedule
  29. 29. Monthly Activities Schedule  Should have a monthly activities schedule  Implementation schedule  Chart that breaks down process into specific steps (recruitment, loan packaging, construction)  Predictor of progress  Tool to track progression  Critical Path Method  Shows schedule graphically  Monitor on a regular basis
  30. 30. Possible Problems  Problems can be overcome with planning and direction  *BP Do not close the grant until the construction can begin within 30 days  Recruitment is a continuous process  Keep searching for land  Program created with beginning & end  Plan submission of next grant application
  31. 31. Staff Meetings  Weekly staff meeting is effective program management tool  Review weekly program objectives w/ staff  Make sure to set aside time
  32. 32.  Follow consistent pattern  Staff should share progress  Review previous week  Identify any problems  Discuss needed adjustments  State this week’s objectives  Monthly, establish objectives  Adjust production or expenses
  33. 33. Construction Staff Meetings  If construction staff cannot attend weekly staff meeting hold construction meeting  Discuss:  Materials needed  Inspection scheduled  Delivery problems  Subcontractor schedules and problems
  34. 34.  Self-Help Participant Labor  Special tools needed  Construction problems  Review invoices and delivery slips  Check the cost control journal of each participant  *BP Meeting can be designed as time for Construction Supervisor and Bookkeeper to exchange delivery slips and CS must approve all invoices
  35. 35. Grant Modification  Sometimes programs get off schedule  Problems must be assessed  If problems cause a change in deliverables, expectations need to be revised  State Director may authorize the Rural Development Manager to execute grant extension  Need has to be justified
  36. 36.  Grant extensions need to be no more than one year  Future performance needs to be based on a workable plan  Analyze what caused problems
  37. 37. A Modification May Be Needed If:  Reports and observation show progress lagging far behind goals  Difficulty recruiting eligible participants  Program criteria changes mid-stream  Significant over or under-spending the TA grant budget  Inability to secure or develop land for future groups  Changes in the market being served
  38. 38. The Modification Format  Give full commitment  Board of Directors should be notified & play role in problem solving  Notify Rural Development  Provide in depth analysis  Compare planned and actual progress  Assess magnitude of the problem  Develop list of realistic strategies  Select best strategy  Implement recovery strategy
  39. 39.  Assemble amendment request package  Include the following information:  Narrative description of the situation, assessment, adjustments necessary  Rural Development amendment form 1944-I, Exhibit C  Revised construction schedule  Expected results and impact
  40. 40. Avoiding Future Modifications  Project budget as accurately as possible  Project time frames realistically  Start groups on time, as projected  *BP Keep additional applicants on standby  Maximize the building season  *BP Keep group sizes adequate to make them efficient  *BP Limit grant spending during slow periods  Maintain strong enforceable subcontracts
  41. 41. Building Group Membership and Labor Agreement  *BP Sample recommended agreement included as Attachment 3  Agreement between families and grantee  Sets up expectations  Lays out rules  Enforcement of agreement is essential to success of group  Be consistent  Do not show favoritism
  42. 42. Land Development  Key ingredient to the program  Approach the search in an organized and systematic manner  Controlling land is critical  Many other activities depend on it  Interim financing may be necessary  523 funds may not be used to option or purchase land  Contact RD for ideas on where to look
  43. 43. Land Survey Criteria  Land must be in a rural area  Lot size – can not be subdivided  Roads – contiguous to and must have direct access to a street, maintained road or driveway, must be paved or all weather  Water – approved well or public central water system  Sewer – approved public sewer or septic system  Site approval – State Director delegate site approval responsibility to appropriate person
  44. 44. Land Survey Resources  7CFR Part 3550  1924-A  1924-C  RD Community Development Manager  Health Department  County or City planner, engineer, or city planner  Soil Conservation Service Soils Book  County Court House, Tax Office, Recorder of Deeds  Utility Companies
  45. 45. Land Survey Process  Preparing a site search map  Identify land that is completely ineligible  Identify and plot locations with desirable features  Plot drawbacks  Talk to county governments or local universities to help with survey process  Windshield survey – review sites for:  Topography, flood plains, erosion  Access to public roads, vegetation, existing structures  Unique features
  46. 46.  Land analysis form  Investigate ownership  Check into tax records  Assume that every parcel is for sale  Complete form, Attachment 6  Selecting the site  Assess suitability of the location  Check zoning  Look for community facilities  Make sure it fits RD guidelines  Would you want to live there? Why or why not?  Assess physical characteristics  Determine acquisition and development costs
  47. 47. Optioning vs. Purchasing  Option agreements  Contract between seller and potential buyer  Buyer not obligated to buy, seller obligated to sell  Options should be between seller and participant  Sample Option in Attachment 5  Option language in Attachment 6  Purchasing land  Grantees can purchase land for later resale to participants  Can be beneficial when purchasing multiple lots  523 funds cannot be spent for this purpose  Interim financing necessary
  48. 48.  Interim financing  No single pot of money available  Seller financing may be an option  AHP, CRA, CDBG, HOME, Housing Trust Funds  HAC  Other private corporations or foundations  See NCALL’s Funding Sources Guide for more information
  49. 49. Required Reports and Meetings
  50. 50. SHARES  Self-Help Automated Reporting and Evaluation System  Internet ready application  Tracks, manages, evaluates and reports on program status  Enter data on regular basis  RD reviews information  Used for monitoring, reporting, statistical information  See SHARES Manual
  51. 51. Monthly Report  All monthly SHARES data needs to be entered by the 5th of the month  NCALL pulls monthly SHARES reports, analyzes them  NCALL emails out a monthly report to grantee and RD
  52. 52. Quarterly Reports  Rural Development responsible for fiscal and programmatic oversight and monitoring  Quarterly report is the primary monitoring tool  SHARES generates this report, Attachment 7  *BP Contractors recommend also complete supplement, Attachment 8  Report must be accurate, complete, on time  Due 15th of each month following end of quarter  Report covers key program benchmarks
  53. 53. Determining EU’s  Equivalent Units  Progress of program judged by accumulation of EUs  Numbers calculated by SHARES  Phase I – Application submitted, 10%  Phase II – Loan closing, 10%  Phase III – Construction 80%, broken down into task points in Exhibit B-2  Points may not be split
  54. 54. Role of Review Meetings  Opportunity to review progress and solve problems  Increase effective communications  Reduce potential problems  Allow for crucial goal setting  Enable up-to-date monitoring of the program
  55. 55. Review Meetings  Meetings should include:  Grantee staff  Rural Development Managers  Community Development Managers  T&MA Contractor staff  Grantee Board members should attend quarterly  Set an agenda  Determine who will lead the meeting  Keep minutes, document decisions made  Be prepared for the meeting  Review activity plan and financial report
  56. 56. *BP Sample Agenda  Read minutes or notes from previous meeting  Grantee progress report  Revision/ update of grant schedule per group  Review TA Cost, EU’s  Resolution of problems  Additional items  View self-help homes  Set next meeting date
  57. 57. T&MA Contractor’s Review  Requirement to conduct an initial assessment of all grantees to review:  Grantee’s performance  Organizational and financial management training needs  Planned level of production by quarter and building group  Leveraged financing for operational and mortgage loan funds  NCALL conducts an annual F.A.V.O.R.
  58. 58. Board of Director’s Annual Self-Evaluation of the Program  Annually the Board is required to conduct annual evaluation  Work may be done by board members or it may be contracted out  A sample evaluation is provided in 1944-I  Grantees may use this one or develop their own
  59. 59. Final Grantee Evaluation  Near end of grant period RD conducts an evaluation  Determines how successful the grant was  Five criteria will be reviewed  # of participants served  % VLI  65% labor requirement  Costs kept within guidelines  Met other objectives in agreement  Rated as unacceptable, acceptable or outstanding
  60. 60. Financial Management
  61. 61. Internal Control  Financial management important for success  Internal control is a cornerstone of financial excellence
  62. 62. 523 Grant Management  Cost Allocation  The tracing of various costs  Direct or Indirect  Charge items consistently  Bank Account  Checking account must be interest bearing  Interest earned in excess of $250/yr must be returned to RD  At least 2 bonded check signatories
  63. 63.  Federal Accounting Requirements  Financial management system must meet standards in OMB circulars  See Guide for listing of circulars  Financial Reporting  Monthly, form SF 270 must be submitted to RDM, original + 2 copies  Written justification needed if request higher than needed for next 30 days  Turn into RDM 15 days prior to beginning of month  Grantees encouraged to use budget tool to show actual vs. budgeted
  64. 64. Accounting for 502 Dollars  Organizations may use either custodial or individual accounts if approved by RD  Establishing record keeping procedures  Create file for each participant, including:  Bank account information  House cost estimate  Copies of paid invoices and check (with PO and delivery slip)  Participant’s statement of withdrawals and deposits  Contracts with subcontractors  Reconciled bank statements  Other – Insurance forms, warranties…
  65. 65.  Drawdown Procedures for Section 502 Monies  Plan well to determine amount requested  Cost Estimating  Accurate cost estimate is key to accounting for loan funds  Subcontracted Work  Certain jobs are contracted  Purchasing House Materials  Require suppliers to set up individual accounts and separate billing records  Verify condition and quantity of items with delivery slip, sign slip
  66. 66.  Reconciliation of Invoices  Invoices from suppliers need to be reconciled with delivery slips  Invoices from subs need to be reconciled with contract  Have Construction Supervisor verify completed work before payment  *BP Do not pay for material unless the PO and delivery slip are attached
  67. 67.  Statement of Deposits and Withdrawals  Record of all disbursements made  Shows current loan balance and current checking account balance  Signing of Checks and Payments to Suppliers  *BP Participants and RD should never sign a blank check  Participants should approve and sign the invoice or payment voucher and then the check  Present to RD for approval and signature  RD will sign and return checks for grantee to send out  Schedule payments to take advantage of supplier discounts  Reconciliation of Bank Statements  Must be done  Preferably by the grantee
  68. 68. Other General Recommendations  *BP Build homes according to plans, do not allow changes  *BP Do not transfer materials from one house to another without documentation  *BP Participants should not be allowed to purchase materials for their homes  *BP Schedule payments to suppliers to take advantage of discounts and maintain the line of credit  *BP Keep participant check books locked in office  *BP Require suppliers to set up individual accounts and billing records
  69. 69.  *BP Do not pay invoice unless it contains lot number or participant name  *BP Avoid shared expenses between participants  *BP NEVER deposit the participant checks into the TA grant pool or pool participant funds to be able to send one check to a supplier or contractor  *BP If participants are on site working prior to loan closing, use Participant Waiver on NCALL’s website
  70. 70. Loan Purposes  Construction costs  Legal fees  Architectural and engineering fees, title clearance, loan closing fees, appraisal, environmental, tax monitoring  Cost of special design features because of disability  Connection fees  Reasonable lender charges and fees  Real estate taxes due at closing and to set up escrow account  Purchase and installation of essential equipment (ranges, refrigerators, dishwashers, washers or dryers)  Participants may want to pay for some of these items themselves  Site preparation, energy saving measures
  71. 71. Personnel
  72. 72. Staffing  Many factors determine staffing patterns  Staff of four is typical  Positions consist of:  Executive Director / Project Director  Group Coordinator  Bookkeeper  Construction Supervisor  Sample job descriptions in Attachment 14
  73. 73. Supervision *BP Key factors for effective supervision:  Be informed and keep others informed  Be approachable  Work to keep in touch  Measure performance  Act on problems  Develop atmosphere conducive to employee motivation  Take disciplinary action
  74. 74.  Share expectations with staff  Help establish goals and plan regularly Expect and plan for corrective action when problems arise  Advocate for employees  Give immediate feedback  Be consistent  Do not show favoritism  Give praise when a job is well done
  75. 75. Hiring  Important responsibility, requires time and effort  Before advertising:  Review job description  Set salary range  Choose closing date for applications  Decide what is needed from applicant  Sources for recruiting:  Within the organization  State employment office  High schools  Community organizations  Social service agencies  Employee referrals  Trade journals or newsletters
  76. 76.  Define process of recruitment  Rank applications – acceptable or not  Look at resume for more than content – organization, accuracy, appropriateness, presentati on  Interview applicants  Plan enough time for the interviews  Let the applicant do most of the talking  Take notes, be patient  Use two people to interview if possible  Devise a structured approach to interviews  *BP Sample structure in Attachment 16  Determine applicant’s interest in the job  Rank the applicants  Check references of top three candidates
  77. 77.  Checking references  Important to verify what the applicant has told you  Get an indication of past performance  Obtain three professional work references  Letters are of little value  Use a phone call for references  Use non-directive questions that will elicit a yes or no answer  Never reveal reference information to the candidate  Make a decision and make the offer
  78. 78. Termination or Discharge of an Employee  Termination is sometimes necessary  Reasons for termination:  Resignation  Mutual Agreement  Reduction in labor force  Unsatisfactory performance  Misconduct on the job  Retirement
  79. 79.  Organizational policies should be in writing protecting both employee and employer  Format to follow  Assures consistency  Expectations and consequences clarified in policies  Before firing, write down reasons for firing and make sure there is just cause  Know the laws, unfair labor practice law  *BP Ask the following questions to ensure just cause  Does any documentation exist that leads to conclusions other than the imminent termination?  Who would be surprised by this termination?
  80. 80.  Was there adequate investigation of alleged misconduct before action was taken?  Is the person’s salary record contrary to that of an unsatisfactory employee?  Have other employees been treated differently under similar circumstances?  A General Labor Force Reduction  Caused by gaps in funding  Can happen frequently in this program  Have a plan for such occasions
  81. 81.  The Termination Interview  Schedule it late in the day, in a private place  Terminate in first 10 minutes of meeting  Be direct  Give brief reason  Make no reference to age, race, sex  Describe termination pay, if any  Spend no more than ½ hour  Consider escorting them to clean out their desk and leave the building  Have follow-up conversation the next day to answer questions and make necessary arrangements
  82. 82. Personnel Evaluations  Have a formal process by which to evaluate staff  Have a policy requiring annual evaluation for all employees  Reflects on accomplishments of past year  Analyzes the present  Looks forward to coming year’s challenges  Sample form in Attachment 17
  83. 83. Personnel Files  Of utmost importance to agency  Must be orderly and complete  Should be located in same cabinet  Should be kept locked  Designate one primary staff person to have access  Personnel files should include:  Job application  Resume  Job description
  84. 84.  Hiring letter or documentation  Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification  Employments contracts and amendments  Salary increase notifications  Tax information  Performance evaluations  Emergency contact and doctor information  Personnel related memos or correspondence  Voluntary payroll withholding forms  Awards, citations, training certificates  Driver’s license and proof of current auto insurance  Keep these files up-to-date
  85. 85. Personnel Policies  Defines what the agency can expect from its employees  Defines what the employees an expect from the agency  Purposes of personnel policies:  Fulfill legal requirements  Help to train new employees  Maintain positive employee relations  Ensure continuity, promote equity  Establish values, mission and direction  Determine action and set boundaries  Clarify responsibilities  Define lines of communication and accountability
  86. 86.  Policies need to be reviewed by a lawyer  Approved by the Board  If organization is writing them now:  Decide who will be involved  Review other agencies’ policies  Investigate  Start with an outline  Write them  Have them reviewed by a lawyer and approved by the Board  Review them with staff  Review them annually for updates and changes  Sample policy outline in Attachment 19
  87. 87. Fair Employment, Equal Employment and Affirmative Action  *BP We recommend that grantees review the terms of their grant agreement as it pertains to discrimination, affirmative action  Ensure the organization is in compliance  Grant agreement requires grantee not to discriminate because of race, religion, color, sex, marital status, national origin, age, mental or physical disability  Also requires affirmative action in regards to employment and equal treatment
  88. 88.  Requirements apply to:  Employment  Upgrading  Demotion  Transfer  Recruitment  Recruitment advertising  Termination layoff  Rates of pay  Selection for training
  89. 89. The Fair Labor Standards Act  The FLSA is administered by DOL  Establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, record keeping, child labor standards  Some workers are exempt  Typically exempt positions are Executive Director or Project Manager  Secretary / Bookkeeper and Construction Supervisor are generally nonexempt  See Guide for more details
  90. 90. Other Laws  Family and Medical Leave Act  Entitles eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year  Used for birth or adoption of a child or caring for spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition  Law applies to organizations with 50 or more employees  Other agencies are adopting this law as a benefit to their employees  Americans with Disabilities Act  Equal Pay  Fair Housing Laws (Covered in next chapter)  Employee Polygraph Protection Act  Wage Garnishment Law  Immigration and Nationality Act  Sarbanes-Oxley Act
  91. 91. Ten Most Forgotten or Ignored Policies  Non-expendable equipment policy  Staff evaluations (Including ED)  Use of written contracts for services  Cost allocation policy  Written financial management policies  DOL, FLSA compliance  Employment advertising policy  Regular policy of examination of spending compared to budget and actual production compared to planned production  Abiding by organization’s personnel policies  Planning and preparation policy for future grants
  92. 92. Fair Housing
  93. 93. Introduction  The right to fair housing is set by law  Training in this area is crucial  Effects every staff person in the self-help program  Right to fair housing enforced by formal complaint process, litigation, testing and monitoring  Lack of knowledge is no excuse
  94. 94. The Fair Housing Act  Prohibits discrimination because of:  Race or color  National origin  Religion  Sex  Familial status  Handicap / Disability  Covers most housing, definitely federally financed  Law effects sale and mortgage
  95. 95. Other Applicable Laws Know that housing laws exist and must be enforced. Such laws include:  Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964  Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973  Age Discrimination Act of 1975  Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act  Section 109 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974  Title VIII, Title VI  Record keeping requirements: racial & ethnic data ((1901.202(g)) Helpful Websites: HUD: http://www.hud.gov USDA: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov
  96. 96. Fair Housing Marketing  Affirmative Far Housing Marketing Plan  HUD Form 935.2b, required for self-help program  Follow instructions  Use accurate information  Marketing plan designed to attract those “least likely to apply”  Special outreach for those groups required  Plan approved and monitored by Rural Development
  97. 97. Fair Housing Advertising  To comply with Fair Housing Act requirements must be met  No discriminatory or limiting words or phrases allowed  No selective use of media and models which can lead to discriminatory results  Use fair housing policies and practices  All advertising for real estate must contain the equal housing opportunity logotype, statement or slogan For further details, see Guide.
  98. 98.  Equal Housing Opportunity Logotype -  Equal Housing Opportunity Slogan  “Equal Housing Opportunity”  Equal Housing Opportunity Statement  “We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. We encourage and support affirmative fair housing advertising and marketing program in which there are no barriers to obtaining housing because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.”
  99. 99. Participant Selection and the Membership Agreement  *BP Two ways to ensure that all fair housing laws are being followed  Consistency  Documentation  A person with a disability cannot be denied the right to participate in the Mutual Self-Help Housing Program  RD and grantees are to make reasonable accommodations which allow someone with a disability to participate
  100. 100.  “Participating family” definition allows substitute labor with prior approval by State Director  In rewards and corrective actions, participants should be treated equally  Follow rules in Membership Agreement, always
  101. 101. Identifying and Solving Potential Fair Housing Problems  Contact Rural Development or HUD immediately  Use mediation and all available resources  Understand the complaint process  Complaints must be filed within one year  Either HUD or RD may investigate  Try to reach a conciliation agreement  If agreement breached, further legal action taken
  102. 102. Additional Resources  Various fair housing training materials exist  HUD’s Fair Housing Information Clearinghouse has brochures, videos, PSAs, posters  Rural Development can also provide materials and training
  103. 103. Stay in Compliance  Review the Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing Plan every quarter to insure compliance  Enforce Fair Housing Advertising requirements  Display Fair Housing Posters as required by RD  Questions should be addressed to State Civil Rights Coordinator
  104. 104. The End!

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