"Commander's Emergency Response Program or CERP funds are a relatively small piece of the war-related budgets. . .But because they can be dispensed quickly and applied directly to local needs, they have had a tremendous impact- far beyond the dollar value-on the ability of our troops to succeed in Iraq and Afghanistan. By building trust and confidence in coalition forces, these CERP projects increase the flow of intelligence to commanders in the field and help turn local Iraqis and Afghans against insurgents and terrorists."
-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates
Testimony to U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, February 2007
Currently there are no "dedicated" funds earmarked specifically for agribusiness development team (ADT) projects. The ADT must rely on the maneuver brigade to fund its projects. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is currently working an initiative for its specialists detailed to ADTs to secure funding through a non-CERP source, but these monies are not yet available.
Therefore, ADTs must continue to fund projects through CERP, which has earned a reputation as being troublesome to use, inconvenient, and inefficient. While that may or may not be true, CERP is the vehicle for funding ADT projects. It may not be easy, but CERP is funding projects that are making a difference.
The ADT leadership involved with project funding should develop a close working relationship with the supporting provincial reconstruction team (PRT) and/or brigade combat team resource manager, who will provide project funding to facilitate timely processing of funding requests. This is very important since ADTs are normally in Afghanistan approximately 11 months, and their projects may be weather/seasonal dependent.
Commander's Emergency Response Program1
CERP enables local commanders in Afghanistan to respond with a nonlethal weapon to urgent, small-scale, humanitarian relief and reconstruction projects and services that immediately assist the indigenous population and that can be sustained by the local population or government. The Department of Defense defines urgent as any chronic or acute inadequacy of an essential good or service that, in the judgment of the local commander, calls for immediate action. Prior coordination with the community leaders bodes for good will.
With most small-scale projects less than $500,000, CERP is a quick and effective method that provides an immediate, positive impact on the local population while other larger reconstruction projects are still getting off the ground. The keys to project selection are:
- Execute quickly.
- Employ many from the local population.
- Benefit the local population.
- Be highly visible.
Guidance for the Commander's Emergency Response Program
The following rules and guidance apply to managing CERP funds and projects:
- Ensure local national, donor nation, nongovernmental organization (NGO), or other aid or reconstruction resources are not reasonably available before CERP funds are used.
- Commanders should consider complementary programs provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other NGOs operating in their area of responsibility.
- Commanders will coordinate and determine project needs with local government agencies, civil affairs elements, engineers, USDA, USAID, and PRTs to gain the greatest effect, ensure synchronization, and provide for documented Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (IROA) project acceptance with follow-on project maintenance and sustainment as required.
- Commanders must ensure they are paying reasonable prices for services and supplies received and constructing projects to a modest, functional standard.
- Commanders will not deliberately overpay for projects or commingle funds.
- Commanders can quickly execute projects that do not exceed $500,000 without a warranted contracting officer by using a U.S. government employee (not a contractor) trained as a project purchasing officer (PPO).
- U.S. appropriated funded CERP projects exceeding the $500,000 threshold require contracts by a warranted contracting officer.
- Use a warranted contracting officer for projects under $500,000 when the technical complexity or the scope of the project exceeds the abilities of the PPO.
- A CERP review board will consider the project requests.
- Authorized methods of payment in the order of payment preference are:
- Electronic funds transfer.
- Check drawn against a limited depository account.
- Afghan currency.
- U.S. currency.
- Contact your supporting resource management office for funding amount limits and approval authority.
- DOD requires its CERP guidance to be incorporated into contracts, as appropriate, to cover the execution, management, recording, and reporting of expenditures of U.S. appropriations and other funds made available for CERP.
- Commanders may not circumvent established monetary limits and approval requirements for their echelon of command by "splitting" a single project into multiple, smaller-scale projects. The commander should apply the "complete and usable" concept to determine if a project is in potential violation of splitting. Specifically, this means any given project cannot be dependent upon the completion of another project to be "complete and usable" to the end user. Project splitting may occur in two forms: sequential or concurrent.
- Sequential split. A large project is broken down into several smaller projects that are funded separately and constructed over different periods.
- Concurrent split. A large project is broken down into several smaller projects that are funded separately and constructed simultaneously.
- ADTs will ensure CERP projects focus primarily on:
- Projects that can be sustained by the local population or government and cost less than $500,000.
- Economic development.
- Employing as many Afghans as possible.
Guidelines applicable to ADTs
The following guidelines are applicable to ADTs and show specific purposes for when CERP funds may and may not be used.
CERP funds are authorized for the following purposes:
- Agriculture and irrigation. Projects to increase agricultural production or cooperative agricultural programs and irrigation systems to include:
- Reforestation (fruit and nut producing trees), timber production, and general reforestation
- Wind breaks for fields
- Pesticide control for crops
- Animal husbandry practices
- Veterinary clinics, supplies, and care of animals
- Seeds for planting
- Purchase of initial, parent livestock for herds
- Animal health
- Animal production
- Fish farms
- Conservation programs
- Purchase of farm equipment or implements
- Irrigation wells
- Irrigation ditches
- Canal cleanup
- Water pumps
- Siphon tubes
- Development and construction of terracing
- Sprinkler irrigation
- Dust suppression
- Central pivot irrigation
- Aquifer development
- Agricultural training facilities and ADT demonstration farms
- Economic, financial, and management improvements. Projects to improve economic or financial security to include:
- Marketing assistance programs.
- Refurbishment of bazaars.
- Micro-grants to individuals or small businesses.
- Electricity. Projects to repair, restore, or improve electrical production, distribution, and secondary distribution infrastructure. (Cost analysis must be conducted so the village or district may collect revenues to ensure operation and maintenance of the system for long-term use.) Projects include:
- Electrical production (solar, hydro, wind, and fossil) for villages and districts (not specific to individual government buildings or homes).
- Distribution of high and low voltage to villages and districts (not specific to individual government buildings or homes).
- Secondary distribution to individual buildings and homes.
- Generators (regardless of where used).
- Food production and distribution. Projects to increase food production or distribution processes to further economic development to include:
- Food handling technology (refrigeration, storage, warehousing, etc.).
- Adequate production and supply logistics, based on demand and need.
- Food labeling and packaging.
- Food production safety.
- Capacity building for production and regulation of food.
- Storage capability for predistribution holding.
- Water and sanitation. Projects to build wells in adequate places to produce more water, assuming the aquifers can supply an adequate flow, and other projects pertaining to water and sanitation to include:
- Wells (regardless of the end user, unless the end user is the security forces).
- Water pumps.
- Trash collection point establishment.
- Waste disposal sites.
- Retaining walls for flood prevention.
- Water studies, including watershed studies.
- Water testing.
CERP funds are not authorized for any project, program, or service that provides:
- Direct or indirect benefit to U.S., coalition, or other supporting personnel.
- Goods, services, or funds to national armies, national guard forces, border security forces, civil defense forces, infrastructure protection forces, highway patrol units, police, and special police or intelligence or other security forces, except contract guards.
- Entertainment (except light refreshment costs purely incidental to either an approved CERP project opening ceremony or a conference in support of a CERP project).
- Removal of unexploded ordnance (unless incidental to construction or an agricultural development project).
- Services available through municipal governments.
- Salaries, bonuses, or pensions of Afghan military or civilian government personnel.
- Training, equipping, or operating costs of Afghan security forces.
- Support to individuals or private businesses (exceptions: condolence, former detainee, and martyr/hero payments; battle damage payments; or micro-grants).
- Purchase of goods or services from any U.S. trade-sanctioned nation.
Exceptions to Policy
Send requests for clarifications of and exceptions to CERP policies through the resource manager (G8) to the senior C8/G8 program coordinator or to the respective functional program manager for action.
Micro-grants represent a modification to earlier CERP policy that prohibited direct payment to assist private businesses. The micro-grant program expands the flexibility of CERP and authorizes commanders to provide cash, equipment, tools, or other material support to small businesses that lack available credit or financial resources. Micro-grants are not a "free money" program. Micro-grants must be used with strict disciplinary measures in place to ensure the economic development objectives of the command are being advanced. The intent of the program is to increase economic activity, particularly in areas where small businesses have suffered because of insurgent or sectarian violence. The business activity must support coalition reconstruction and humanitarian assistance operations and meet specific criteria established by theater-specific policy.
Commanders should consider two points when implementing micro-grant programs within their areas of responsibility. First, they should require the enterprise to submit a proposal for the loan that outlines the enterprise's spending plan. This proposal confirms the business leader's legitimate intent for the coalition CERP funds. Additionally, commanders should require the business owner to accomplish the first elements of the business plan using his internal financial or material assets.
This procedure confirms the owner's dedication to his stated plan and minimizes the potential unauthorized use of coalition funds.
Requesting Commander's Emergency Response Program Funds
According to the U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A)/J8 (resource manager) special programs budget officer, all regional commands in Afghanistan conduct a weekly CERP validation board for projects over $200,000. Projects under $200,000 do not have to go to a regional board and can be approved by the local colonel (O6) commander (up to $25,000 can be approved by the lieutenant colonel [O5] commander).
Once the complete packet is submitted for board validation, the board reviews it at its next scheduled board meeting for approval/disapproval. On some occasions packets may be incomplete or require additional data, at which time the originator is notified to provide the needed data. When completed packets are received, the packet is reviewed and approved/disapproved at the next scheduled weekly board meeting. Once the packet is validated by the board, it is returned to the originator to be turned in to the local area support resource management team for funding and execution when the originator is ready to proceed with his validated packet. The packet is normally approved/disapproved within five to seven days.
The board only validates the project; it does not certify funding. All approved CERP projects are subject to the availability of funds and command prioritization. However, funds were available for every packet that was validated in Fiscal Year 2009. Funding has never been a constraint.
The standard CERP packet consists of the following items:
- Letter of justification signed by the appropriate approval authority.
- Afghan data report (showing the project is documented in the combined information data exchange).
- Coordinated documentation with PRTs (for projects $50,000 or over).
- Performance metrics (for projects over $50,000).
- Statement of work with a cost estimate.
- Department of the Army (DA) Form 3953, Purchase Request and Commitment (PR&C).
- Legal review.
- Appointment orders/signature cards for the PPO and paying agent.
According to the list above, the project requestor must provide a proper packet to ensure the requested project is a valid CERP requirement, meets mission intent, and is fiscally sound.
U.S. Forces-Afghanistan Commander's Emergency Response Program Funding Process
USFOR-A J8 Publication 1-06, Money As A Weapons System-Afghanistan (MAAWS-A), Appendix B, provides guidance on the CERP funding process. It should be used by the ADT CERP manager as a desktop standing operating procedure (SOP). Figure 8-1 shows the process for obtaining CERP funds through the payment process.
DD: Department of Defense
Figure 8-1. Process flow for obtaining CERP funds
Agribusiness Development Team Commander's Emergency Response Program Process2
The following flow charts for the ADT CERP process were developed by the Texas ADT-01 CERP manager. While they represent the process for one ADT, they are excellent guides for other ADTs to use in developing their own flow charts.
SME: Subject matter expert
CIDNE: Combined Information Data Network Exchange
QA: Quality assurance
Figure 8-2. ADT CERP process flow: phase I
QC: Quality control
Figure 8-3. ADT CERP project SOP
SJA: Staff judge advocate
POLAD: Political advisor
S5: Battalion civil-military operations officer
S9: Brigade civil-military operations officer
CERPSAF: TF Salerno Finance Office CERP project reference number
RCC: Resource control center
RM: Resource manager
BAF: Bagram airfield
JCO: Joint certification officer
C6: Brigade commander
Figure 8-4. Brigade CERP flow (under $200,000)
CJ 5: Plans officer
CJ 7: Engineer officer
CJ 8: Resource management officer
PARC-A: Principal Assistant Responsible for Contracting-Afghanistan
CJ9: Civil-military operations officer
CJTF: Combined Joint Task Force
CG: Commanding general
SOW: Statement of work
Figure 8-5. CERP flow ($200,000 to $2 million)
Figure 8-6. CERP flow (over $2 million)
B.E.S.T.: Basic Engineer Skills Test
EFT: Electronic funds transfer
SAF: TF Salerno finance office CERP project reference number
Figure 8-7. ADT CERP process flow: phase II
ADT Commander's Emergency Response Program Processing Tasks
Following are tasks the agriculture SME for the project must complete prior to requesting the ADT CERP manager's actions. The ADT CERP manager then prepares the packet required to request CERP funding:
- Project SME tasks (agriculture team member):
- Draft scope of work.
- Draft Afghan development template (ADR).
- Assemble materials list with estimated prices and photos if possible.
- Assemble drawings.
- Inclue all material in Microsoft Excel, Word, or PowerPoint.
- ADT CERP manager tasks:
- Table of contents (Tab A)
- Potential contract documents (Tab B)
- Statement of work
- Cost estimate (Appendix A)
- Appendices (drawings, concepts, and specifications)
- Contract cover letter
- Scoping document
- DA Form 3953 (PR&C) (Tab C)
- ADR, commander's approval letter, provincial reconstruction team letter, project nomination form, and solicitation
Project requirements template
The project requirements template defines project goals, what work is to be done, how long the project will take, why the project is worth doing (primary and secondary benefits to population), the number of locals employed on the project, and so forth. The template is completed by the agriculture subject matter expert. Figure 8-8 is an example of a project requirements template.
Project scope of work must include and/or answer the following:
1. Project title.
2. One/two sentence description of the project.
3. Goals of the project.
4. Location (military grid reference system) 10-digit grid with map identifier (42S VC xxxxx xxxxx).
5. Problem statement. (How does this project satisfy an urgent, chronic, or acute humanitarian need?)
6. What is the immediate benefit to the local population?
7. How will the unit be able to measure the success of the project?
8. Sustainability of the project. (How do we/IROA government make it last?)
9. Explain which ministry, organization, leaders, or other groups will be sustaining this project.
10. Who will the project be transferred to in the Afghan government?
11. Have local leaders or provincial ministers identified this as a priority? (Yes or no)
12. Number of local population engaged in the project.
13. How many local nations are involved in the execution of the project? Number of people employed?
14. What are the primary and secondary benefits?
15. How long will this project take to complete?
Figure 8-8. Project requirements template
DA Form 3953
The DA Form 3953 is a document used to request the commitment of funds prior to incurring an obligation. A commitment is an administrative reservation of funds in the accounting system and authorizes the unit to enter into a contracting process. An example DA Form 3953 is shown in Figure 8-9.
Figure 8-9. Sample DA Form 3953
DD Form 250, Material Inspection and Receiving Report
DD Form 250 is a multipurpose report used as a contractor invoice and as commercial invoice support. The contractor prepares the report, except for entries that an authorized government representative is required to complete. Instructions for completing the report can be found in Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement and Procedures, Guidance, and Information, Appendix F. An example DD Form 250 is shown in Figure 8-10.
Figure 8-10. Sample DD Form 250
Policies and procedures frequently change. It is prudent for the ADT Soldier responsible for working project funding issues to work closely with the individuals from higher headquarters responsible for CERP project validation and funding.
A deployed ADT commander recently stated that he has multiple project managers, but only one CERP manager, who is overwhelmed trying to manage CERP administration actions. The situation causes project actions to "bottleneck" with the CERP manager. The commander recommended having two CERP managers!
1. Appendix B-1 (Commander's Emergency Response Program), U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) Publication 1-06, Money As A Weapon System-Afghanistan (MAAWS-A), 15 May 2009.
2. CPT Wesley West, Texas Agribusiness Development Team-01, CERP Manager.