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Section 3: Project On-Site Monitoring

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Background

Calls, letters, and occasional meetings are generally not sufficient to adequately monitor a project. In most cases, a Project Manager will need to go on-site to review project status, documents, and subgrantee grant management and financial records and systems. This type of in-depth review is often called “project on-site monitoring” because the Project Manager must actually go to the location of the project and the offices of the subgrantee to conduct this monitoring. On-site monitoring should involve all project personnel with management or oversight responsibility for the project, including a financial representative.

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Frequency

On-site monitoring for new subgrantees of projects must be completed within the first quarter of the project. On-site monitoring for projects beyond the first year must be conducted at least once during the first three quarters of the fiscal year. Projects evidencing any problems or displaying any of the warning signs (identified in Section 2 of this chapter) may need additional on-site monitoring during the fiscal year.

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Items to Review

On-site monitoring includes all issues related to the effective and efficient operation of the project. The following, though not all-inclusive, are the most important items to review:

  • Progress toward achievement of objectives and performance measures
  • Adherence to all objective’s activities (for General grants)
  • Timely submission of complete and correct reports, including required documentation
  • Status of expenditures as they relate to the budget, including any overruns or underruns
  • Protection of programs and resources from waste, fraud and mismanagement
  • Adherence to laws and regulations
  • Subcontracts, and all related documentation
  • Accounting records
  • Personnel records and time sheets
  • Personnel changes
  • Any necessary pre-approvals (Supplemental approvals)
  • Supporting documentation (training documentation, verification of average cost-per-mile to operate patrol or fleet vehicles, etc.)
  • Noteworthy accomplishments (best practices), and
  • Deficiencies or recommendations for corrective action.

In addition, the Project Manager will normally inventory and inspect annually any equipment purchased or leased as part of the project to ensure that it is being used for the purpose for which it was bought or leased under the grant agreement.

The Project Manager can access an on-site monitoring visit checklist and monitoring forms in eGrants under each grant. The forms are located under “Examine Related Items” and “Initiate a Subgrantee Monitoring.”

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Advance Preparation

Prior to the on-site monitoring, the Project Manager should:

  • plan each on-site monitoring visit well in advance (preferably at least three to four weeks)
  • refer the Project Director to the appropriate procedures in Section 3 of this chapter
  • carefully review the grant agreement to determine which of the objective’s activities should have been accomplished by the on-site monitoring date (for General Grants)
  • note any special terms, conditions, problems, or warning signs that need monitoring
  • review all correspondence, Performance Reports, and Requests for Reimbursement (RFRs) submitted prior to the visit
  • set up appointments with key project staff (management and fiscal)
  • provide a list of the types of documents to be reviewed, including time sheets, purchase vouchers, and forms, and
  • note any items requiring follow-up from a previous monitoring visit.
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Review of Source Documents

During at least one on-site monitoring visit, the Project Manager will review source documents and evidence of task completion depending upon the activities to be conducted and the types of costs involved in the project. Examples of source documents to be included in the financial review are presented in the table below.

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Document Type

Notes

Requests for Reimbursement

Any supporting documentation to support the validity of appropriate outlay detail forms submitted through monthly RFRs

Time Sheets

Time sheets, pay records, payroll registers, and possibly personnel (salary rate) records must be reviewed to determine that salary and wage costs are fully supported. Time sheets must account for 100% of time, regardless of the amount charged to a grant. If only a percent of time is to be reimbursed, then the prorated amount must be correct.

Fringe Benefits

If reimbursable, fringe benefits (such as health insurance, pension plan, etc.) must correspond to the amount or percent in the executed grant budget.

Travel Costs

Only travel directly associated with the grant may be reimbursed. This might include, for example, travel to meetings called by TxDOT.

Invoices and Payments

Only those costs in the approved budget may be reimbursed. Any payments must be directly attributable to the grant costs.



In reviewing these documents, a sampling methodology may be used, either randomly or selectively (such as, every fifth voucher or every other time sheet). Choose 10% (at a minimum) of total hours worked on the grant for a two-month period. Review all documentation associated with these reported hours. Compare the summary of hours worked (submitted with the RFRs) with the subgrantee’s source documents. Examples of documents include STEP daily activity reports (DARs), time sheets, overtime slips/cards, citations, supplies invoices, travel documents, etc. The purpose of the financial document review is to ensure that costs claimed reconcile with the approved grant budget and the documentation.

For STEP grants and other grants claiming personnel services, the Project Manager must closely examine and compare personnel log sheets to actual activity documentation (such as date and time worked as recorded on paper tickets and time reports) to ensure that only actual time worked on grant-funded, approved activities is submitted for reimbursement. Review original documents (not copies) at the subgrantee or third-party subcontract level (See Fraud Prevention in Section 4 of this Chapter).

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Review of Project Status

The Project Manager will review the status of project activities. Examples of evidence of progress toward task completion might include:

  • attendance rosters for training projects or events
  • the number of citations and warnings for enforcement projects
  • newspaper clippings of events and public information activities
  • written analyses and reports for data or problem identification projects
  • survey or questionnaire results
  • personnel training records, and
  • subcontractor performance.
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Review of Budget Requirements

The Project Manager will review appropriate program and financial documents for adherence to budget requirements to determine whether:

  • expenditures are on schedule
  • costs are in the approved budget category or any subsequent amendment
  • any necessary prior approvals for travel, equipment purchases, or changes have been obtained
  • appropriate procedures have been followed for all expenditures, including subcontracts, and
  • appropriate supporting documents, including those related to matching funds, are available and filed.
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Direct Observations

On-site monitoring could also include direct observation of activities performed. These might include attendance or participation in:

  • meetings, workshops or training courses
  • press conferences or other media events
  • presentations to schools, organizations or civic clubs
  • task forces, subcontractor, or committee meetings, and
  • shifts of Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) enforcement.
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Documentation

The Project Manager will complete, through eGrants, all on-site monitoring form pages and attach copies of all appropriate records and other documents reviewed during the visit. To document on-site subgrantee monitoring activities, Project Managers must create and submit an On-site Monitoring Report in eGrants.

The subgrantee monitoring reports can be found by viewing a subgrantee’s grant in eGrants (“Subgrantee Monitoring” can be found under “Examine Related Items.”).

To complete the On-Site Monitoring Report, follow the steps listed below.

  1. Select “Create New” to create a Monitoring Report.
  2. Under “View, Edit and Complete Forms,” select “On-site Monitoring.”
  3. Complete and save all on-site monitoring forms.
  4. Add additional information and/or attachments by opening and completing the applicable Attachments form page.
  5. Click on “Change the Status” to change the status of the on-site monitoring report to “Subgrantee Monitoring Submitted.”

NOTE: Once the status has been changed to “Subgrantee Monitoring Submitted,” the subgrantee will be able to view the monitoring report.

Management Oversight of Grant Monitoring

TRF-TS management will review the program monitoring plan at least once a year on a formal basis to document compliance with the policy to perform an on-site monitoring visit for all subgrantees requiring a visit on an annual basis.

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