The National Endowment for the Arts has reinstated the eligibility of the Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture under the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs to apply for and receive grants after over two years of being ineligible to receive financial aid from the largest annual funder of the arts in the U.S.
DCCA Secretary Melvin Faisao and council executive director Angel S. Hocog separately confirmed the good news which was relayed to them by Laura A. Scanlan, NEA director of state and regional partnerships, via email on Aug. 16.
“I am pleased to inform you that, as a result of the NEA Inspector General's review and determination, the CCAC is eligible to apply for a 2013 NEA Partnership Agreement,” Scanlan wrote.
NEA suspended funding to CCAC based on the findings of the audit report issued on Aug. 17, 2010 by the Office of Inspector General. Included in the report findings that covered four grants received by the council from 2005 to 2009 are questionable costs and expenses as well as deficiencies in tracking expenditures and maintaining documentations.
Since then, DCCA and CCAC worked together to respond to NEA and implement corrective measures to address the national agency's recommendations.
“I want to thank the whole public for their patience during the times when we were in consultation with our federal grantor NEA after the CNMI was placed on suspension to apply for grants,” Faisao said in a phone interview.
He thanked CCAC's Hocog, Finance federal accounts supervisor Agnes Cepeda, DCCA accountant and grant writer Roselle Teregeyo, special assistant Vicky Villagomez of the Office of Management and Budget, and Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and Lt. Gov. Eloy S. Inos for their confidence in appointing him to undertake the task of working with the Office of Inspector General.
Hocog, for his part, said it took a lot of work before they could finally have the council's eligibility reinstated. “We're very pleased that we were able to meet NEA's requirements. We're very happy with the outcome,” he added.
The reinstatement, however, came with a price as the council is now on the cost-reimbursement method of funding. Under cost-reimbursement, costs for the grantee are reimbursed when required matching costs have also been incurred.
To discuss further the new method and other aspects of the partnership agreement, Faisao and Teregeyo took part in a teleconference with Scanlan early Friday morning.
“We tried as much as we can to avoid going into that method, but it's better to comply to that and have the funding available for our CNMI community,” Faisao told Saipan Tribune.
The department secretary also noted another new requirement for the council, which is to “open up the funding to projects that are private-public partnership type” wherein it allows for engagement in activities that support lifelong learning.
Faisao said they already assured Scanlan of their intent to apply for funding for fiscal year 2013, the deadline for which is on Oct. 1.
He and Hocog also thanked all artists in the Commonwealth for their support to DCCA and the CCAC, allowing them to accomplish successfully the NEA requirements.
“The trust and expectation is now delivered by the Fitial and Inos administration,” added Faisao.