OverviewPKGrantsStatutory Authority


Statutory Authority

The use of a grant or cooperative agreement to carry out a program requires authorizing legislation. For that reason, a component must identify statutory authority before requesting and awarding a grant or cooperative agreement.

Understanding Statutory Authority

The primary statutory authority for Defense Human Resources Activity (DHRA) components authorizes the performance of research and development projects through grants and cooperative agreements. However, other statutory authorities may be applicable.

The statutory authority does not need to say that the specific purpose of the program is assistance, and it does not need to mention the use of any type of grant or cooperative agreement. However, the intent of the statute must demonstrate that the use of a grant or cooperative agreement is appropriate.

Types of Statutory Authority

Statutory authorities fall into three categories:

  1. Authorities delegated by the Secretary of Defense to heads of the Department of Defense (DoD) Components through DoD directives, instructions, or policy memoranda that are not part of the Defense Grant and Agreement Authority System (DGARS).

    Examples of Statutory Authorities Delegated Through the DoD

    • Authority to award grants or cooperative agreements to help state and local governments alleviate serious economic impacts of defense program changes, such as base openings and closings, contract changes, and personnel reductions or increases.
    • Authority to enter into cooperative agreements with entities that provide procurement technical assistance to businesses.

  2. Authorities given directly to heads of the DoD Components. When a statute authorizes the head of a component to use a funding instrument to carry out a program with a principal purpose of assistance, use of that authority does not require delegation by the Secretary of Defense.

    Examples of Statutory Authority Provided to heads of the DoD Components

    • Authority given to secretaries of the military departments, in addition to the Secretary of Defense, to perform research and development projects through grants and cooperative agreements.
    • Authority given to the secretaries of the military departments and the Secretary of Defense to carry out basic, applied, or advanced research projects using assistance instruments other than grants and cooperative agreements.

  3. Authorities that arise indirectly as the result of a statute.

    Examples of Statutory Authority Indirectly Resulting from a Statute

    • A federal statute authorizing a program that is consistent with the support or stimulation of a public purpose, rather than the acquisition of a good or service for the direct benefit of the DoD. Such a program would appropriately be carried out through the use of grants or cooperative agreements. Depending upon the nature of the program (for example, research) and whether the program statute includes authority for any specific types of instruments, there also may be authority to use other assistance instruments.
    • Exemptions requested by the DoD and granted by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

After Establishing Statutory Authority

When a DHRA component identifies what it believes may be an appropriate use of a general or specific statutory authority, an initial briefing should be scheduled with the DHRA Contracting Directorate (PK) Grants Officer and the DHRA Office of General Counsel, and the grants process can begin.