Katy Kujawski: Hello, and thank you for joining me to review the planning workbook for the Weatherization Assistance Program funds appropriated under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. My name is Katy Kujawski and I'm a project officer with the Department of Energy.
With the release of the BIL's specific application instructions came a BIL planning workbook. While the use of this workbook is optional, it is recommended that grantees utilize this or something equal to it in order to engage in planning for five years of the BIL funding.
On November 15, 2021 the president signed into law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also referred to as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, or BIL, which provides $3.5 billion in funding for weatherization. In order to access this funding, grantees will need to submit an application package as they do for regular formula funds. However, unlike regular formula funds, the BIL application package will be based on a five-year plan.
Before we dive into the planning workbook, let's take a look at the overview process and the importance of using the BIL planning workbook. There will be a phased funding release to accommodate the various steps in the application implementation process. The grant application that grantees will submit will be organized on a five-year period. The first 18 months will be considered a planning period to prepare for meeting the BIL goals and expectations.
An initial distribution of funds will be available to grantees following the approval of their submitted SF 424 and SF 424A. This initial distribution will allow grantees to engage in the planning and ramp-up process. Next, grantees will develop their five-year BIL application, and following approval will receive an additional 35 percent of their BIL allocation.
Finally, the remaining 50 percent will be released based on completion of about 30 percent of planned BIL units, an approved monitoring plan and inspection protocol, annual monitoring at each subgrantee, implementation of local quality control efforts where at least five percent of units are inspected by the grantee each year, grantee progress reports must be acceptable and submitted, and a DOE monitoring must be completed. Following all of those things, the remaining 50 percent of funds will be released. For grantees to successfully meet these marks and continue with their BIL goals, good planning needs to occur. This is the significance of utilizing the BIL planning workbook. So, let's dive into the workbook and how to use it.
The optional planning workbook is an Excel-based form with multiple tabs. The first tab provides users with instructions, background, links, and useful tools. The additional components of the workbook include the budget and production tab, workforce tab, training and technical assistance tab, monitoring, including specifics for direct service grantees, a milestones and goals tab, and a special projects tab. So, let's take a look at the contents of each tab.
This is the budget and production planning tab. Users will input values into those total allocation cells and T&TA allocation cells in C2 and C3, right where that red arrow is, from the BIL allocation WPN. Consider expanding data to separate grantee and subgrantee administration and T&TA allocations to detail how the total is allocated. Also, consider using other—the "other" category for optional budget items and other expenses that do not fit in the other categories. Ensure that costs placed in "other" are allowable for the category, and further, ensure that you provide further detail in your application. Users can edit the cells that are in blue and all others will autocalculate.
For the planned monitoring visits, enter the number of planned monitoring and QCI visits. In-progress inspections are not a program requirement but are recommended and therefore included in this tab.
The workforce planning tab. To ramp up for a five-year BIL implementation period, workforce planning should be considered. Complete the staffing and contractor estimates in this tab by entering data into the tables. You can edit the occupation titles as needed. We have provided some placeholders utilizing the NASCSP job description titles that have been entered into this spreadsheet. For contractors, enter the number of firms or businesses that the grantee or subgrantee has a contract with. And for staff, of course, enter the number of full-time equivalent FTE staff members.
In addition, the workforce training tab offers some prompting questions to help you think through the various aspects of workforce planning, such as what is your current average time frame for hiring, considering challenges that you have in your onboarding processes, support from other programs, adding contractors, if you have subgrantees that might shift from crew to contractor-based or vice-versa, or any additional comments on your planned program being up.
The T&TA planning tab. So, in this tab you'll provide estimates for your training and technical assistance budget. You can verify planned budget—ensure you verify that the planned budget equals the T&TA allocation. Enter the planned types of comprehensive and specific trainings, timing of trainings, and planned cost. You may also use the same spreadsheet to track trainings for future onboarding. And this is an example of the reporting side of that training and technical assistance tab.
The monitoring planning tab provides an estimated annual monitoring plan when ramp-up is complete and BIL production is at its peak. Enter the name of the entity being monitored along with the type of monitoring. You can target the quarter in which the monitoring will be completed and you have the option to add rows as needed. Use the remaining columns to estimate the number of technical onsite reviews that will occur, and in the monitoring staff table you can list the positions available to the grantee for the purpose of monitoring their credentials, if any, and the funding source paying the salaries.
Milestone planning tab. The milestone planning tab allows grantees to plan for significant events in various categories. Using the information in the first four tabs, you can create milestones to measure progress throughout the initial five-year budget period. Sample milestones are provided in this example. You can edit these as needed, enter start dates/end dates for goals and milestones. And a place for comments is here as well. This is the reporting side of the milestone tab, so you can use the same Excel spreadsheet to not only plan but to track.
A special projects tab has been added so that you can plan for and track any special projects, such as procuring a new data system or increasing training and technical assistance capacity, or perhaps you're doing a BIL evaluation study. So, again, the use of this tab allows you to enter the various types of information that you might use for planning, such as estimating costs, start and end dates, and the type of funding being used.
Please reach out to your project officer with any additional questions on this BIL planning workbook. We thank you for your time in this recording and we look forward to working with you further on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
[End of Audio]