HUD's Disaster Recovery Grant Reporting (DRGR) System: Tips and tricks for success
The Disaster Recovery Grant Reporting (DRGR) System was developed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for grantees to access grant funds and report performance accomplishments for grant-funded activities.
It was originally created for Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds and is now also used for several HUD programs and funding streams, including:
- Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP)
- Rural Capacity Building, Pay for Success
- Recovery Housing Program (RHP)
- Rural Innovation Fund
- Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP)
- Veterans Housing Rehabilitation and Modification Pilot Program
- Technical Assistance
If you’re a grantee of any of these programs, you should become proficient with the DRGR System to expedite federal reimbursements and ensure compliance with federal regulations.
The DRGR System is different from HUD’s Integrated Disbursement and Information System (IDIS). IDIS is currently used for the following Community Planning and Development (CPD) formula programs:
- Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)
- The HOME Investment Partnerships program
- Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG)
- Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA)
- Community Development Block Grant CARES Act (CDBG-CV) funding
HUD provides resources and guidance online to help grantees operate the DRGR System, but our grant management experts have some helpful tips that they’ve picked up from helping countless clients navigate the system.
Keep reading to learn best practices, tips, and tricks for grantees navigating the DRGR System. Please note that this information is applicable to most funding streams that use DRGR, but some details may vary depending on the funding stream.
Understanding how DRGR is used
DRGR is the system of record that HUD has established for grantees to use for a variety of grant-related actions. DRGR does more than just reporting on program expenditures and outcomes. The system allows grantees to provide members of the public and other interested stakeholders with qualitative and quantitative information regarding programs, activities, and expenditures. DRGR is used by grantees to receive reimbursements of federal grant funds, to perform analytics, and to ensure activities are set up to monitor compliance.
Key functions of DRGR include managing Action Plans, activity budgets, Quarterly Performance Reports, and other information.
Get organized before you begin
Before entering any information into the DRGR System, you should first:
- Compile all necessary information and data. We recommend you gather this information in documents and spreadsheets in an organized file system outside of the DRGR System.
- Avoid using special formatting in your documents. When you copy and paste the text to the DRGR System, most formatting will be removed.
- Consider hiring and training staff who can specialize in DRGR, have knowledge in amending Action Plans, processing vouchers, and completing reporting requirements.
Establish your Action Plan
Applicable to grantees receiving new CDBG-DR funding, the Public Action Plan is a recent feature in DRGR that allows grantees to develop their Published Action Plan within DRGR. For older grantees, the Published Action Plan is what would have been developed outside of DRGR and posted on the grantee's recovery website. HUD will approve the Public Action Plan in DRGR, and grantees will still post it on their website for public transparency.
- For more on this topic, reference How to Build Your HUD CDBG-DR Action Plans—with Template.
The DRGR Action Plan allows you to define projects and activities that correspond to programs listed in the Action Plan. Each activity will be set up to meet requirements set by HUD, particularly the national objective, eligible CDBG-DR activity, budget, performance measures, and a record of expenditures.
Use your Public Action Plan as a guide
After you’ve completed your Public Action Plan, use it as a guide for the DRGR Action Plan you’ll input in the DRGR System. For applicable grantees, if a program is not entered in the Public Action Plan, you will be unable to add projects and activities for the program in the DRGR Action Plan.
Map out projects and activities
Take the time to be thoughtful about how to set up projects and activities in DRGR. What naming convention will be used? Will DRGR activities tie back to naming conventions or codes used in internal accounting systems? By looking at DRGR activities, will HUD or the public understand what an activity is doing?
The way you structure your DRGR activities impacts how grant funds are drawn down, how the information is reported to HUD, and how reporting will be done through the Quarterly Performance Report (QPR). You should find the right balance between being compliant and being detailed. Too many unnecessary activities will lead to administrative burden in the grant process and too few activities will prevent HUD from understanding what work is being done and how progress is being made.
As mentioned above, a good practice is to map out how your projects and activities will be structured—in a tool like Excel or Word. This allows you to review and approve the information before entering anything into DRGR.
Review and understand key terms
As you navigate the DRGR System, you’ll likely come across several terms for which you don’t know the exact definition. Knowing the terminology in DRGR will help you better understand how to navigate the system, respond to data requests, and troubleshoot errors. Some key definitions to know include:
- Public Action Plan — The grantee’s Action Plan for disaster recovery that identifies the proposed use of all funds.
- DRGR Action Plan — A combination of projects and activities that HUD uses to monitor grantees for compliance, spending, and performance
- Projects — DRGR method by which to group together several DRGR activities.
- Activity – Reflects specific work addressing a need performed and reported by responsible organization.
This is just a sampling of the important terms to know when using the DRGR System. We put together a comprehensive glossary of terms seen in the DRGR System to make it easier for grantees to do their reporting. Download our DRGR dictionary to take advantage of this helpful resource.
Lead with your metrics
When developing your Action Plan or before implementing grant programs, a good practice is to know your desired outcomes and build out your reporting needs based on those desired outcomes. Work backwards. What are the metrics that you would like to be able to point to upon completion of a given program or project to indicate that you were successful? What performance measures do you want to focus on? For some programs, the metric is relatively straightforward. For example, the number of low- and moderate-income households is a straightforward metric for housing assistance. Whereas certain mitigation actions may vary in terms of metrics depending on what risks are being mitigated.
There are many DRGR reports that can be run out of MicroStrategy, and you should take the time to familiarize yourself with which reports to run and for what purpose. These reports can provide a variety of data on the overall Action Plan, Financials, Performance, and Compliance.
Don’t let perfection prevent progress
Don’t avoid completing your reporting because you want things to be perfect. You can always make revisions as you go. The DRGR System is designed for grantees to make necessary revisions and to provide transparency into how programs evolve and change based on information gained during the grant lifecycle. Grantees can — and should — amend their Action Plans to reflect changes to program scope, budgets, and beneficiaries. Financial drawdowns can also be regularly revised to accurately reflect how costs are being charged to the grant.
However, it’s critical that you document the changes you make because the DRGR System will not keep track of revisions. It’s essential that your changes are justified and well-organized and are not the inevitable result of correcting avoidable errors. Ensure that you have internal procedures in place or an accounting system that will clarify the reason for changes in the event of audit.
The DRGR System is continuously getting updated and redesigned, so stay on the lookout for updates. The HUD Exchange provides tools, trainings, and webinars to help grantees understand changes to the system.
For personalized support, contact us to get in touch with our team of experts who are well-versed in HUD grants management, DRGR, Action Plans, and much more.