Disapprovals & Reconsiderations
Communicating with disapproved applicants can sometimes be challenging because councils often wish they could fund everyone and delivering bad news is difficult. It is important for council members to be clear in correspondence with applicants. This section suggests some good ways to communicate with applicants whose applications have been denied or who are requesting reconsideration.
Following a grant cycle voting meeting, councils must notify their disapproved applicants of their decision in writing. Disapproval letters must provide applicants with clear reasons for denial based on published state or local guidelines, and information on the reconsideration process. "Insufficient funds" does not provide applicants with adequate rationale for disapproval.
LCCs should not use "technical disapprovals" (not enough copies, unsigned applications, etc.) as the sole basis for disapproving applications. Additionally, while some councils find it useful to conduct applicant interviews as part of the grant review process, councils should not disapprove an application for the sole reason that the applicant was unable to attend an applicant interview.
Getting unclear or confusing information in a disapproval letter can be very discouraging for applicants. A discouraging experience can prevent an otherwise promising applicant from applying in the future. A sample letter listing the most common reasons for disapproval can be adapted as a way to give feedback to applicants.
Furthermore, because these are public dollars, disapproved applicants are entitled to request reconsideration if they believe the council did not follow published state and/or local regulations and guidelines. Instructions for reconsideration should be included in the disapproval letter that is sent to disapproved applicants. Disapproved applicants must be notified first, before approved applicants, in case they present a legitimate case for reconsideration and the local council reverses its decision and grants them funds. Approval letters cannot be sent until the reconsideration period has passed and the LCC has completed the annual report to the MCC.
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After sending out disapproval letters, councils must allow for a 15-day reconsideration period before notifying successful applicants of their recommendations. This waiting period is necessary because a successful request for reconsideration could result in a change in the recommended awards.
An applicant may request reconsideration of an LCC decision on his or her application if the applicant can demonstrate that the LCC failed to follow published state and local guidelines and regulations. Dissatisfaction with the denial of an application or with the amount of an award does not constitute grounds for reconsideration. Disapproval letters must provide applicants with clear reasons for denial based on published state or local guidelines, and information on the reconsideration process. "Insufficient funds" does not provide applicants with adequate rationale for disapproval.
Streamlined Councils. Reconsideration requests must be made in writing and must be sent to the LCC within 15 days of the postmarked date on the disapproval letter. The applicant should also send a copy of the request to the MCC. The request should include:
- The application in question.
- The council's disapproval letter to the applicant.
- The applicant's reason for requesting reconsideration stating how the LCC failed to follow published state or local guidelines and regulations.
Within 15 days of receiving a reconsideration request, the MCC will determine if the applicant has grounds for reconsideration, and will notify both the applicant and council of its decision.
If the MCC determines that the applicant has grounds for reconsideration, the local council must convene a quorum of members and review the application, as if for the first time. Following all published state and local guidelines and regulations, the local council must decide whether to approve or deny the grant request and must notify the applicant of the final determination in writing.
A decision on any requests for reconsideration should be made before LCCs finalize funding decisions and complete the annual report to the MCC. Only after the annual report to the MCC has been completed, can approval letters be sent to successful applicants.
Non-Streamlined Councils. An applicant whose grant is denied by the local council should follow the above reconsideration process. An applicant whose grant is recommended for approval by a non-streamlined council and disapproved by the MCC may request reconsideration of the MCC decision if he/she can demonstrate that the MCC failed to follow published state guidelines and regulations. Reconsideration requests must be made in writing and must be sent directly to the MCC within 15 days of the postmarked date on the disapproval letter. The MCC board will vote on reconsideration requests at its next meeting, generally in late May.
If the disapproved applicant elects not to request reconsideration, or in the event that a request for reconsideration is denied, LCCs must reallocate the funds originally awarded to that applicant to other grants approved that grant cycle and inform MCC of their plans within 30 days of notification.
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