Alabama Historical Commission, Alabama SHPO

Certified Local Government

Local governments strengthen their local historic preservation efforts by achieving Certified Local Government (CLG) status from the National Park Service (NPS). NPS and State governments, through their State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs), provide valuable technical assistance and small matching grants to hundreds of diverse communities whose local governments are endeavoring to keep for future generations what is significant from their community's past. In turn, NPS and States gain the benefit of local government partnership in the national historic preservation program. Another incentive for participating in the CLG program is the pool of matching grant funds SHPOs set aside to fund CLG historic preservation sub-grant projects--at least 10% of the State's annual Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) grant allocation. Grant funds are distributed through the HPF grant program, administered by NPS and SHPOs.

Click here for more information on the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions' FORUM to be held in Mobile, Alabama, on July 27-31, 2016.

There are 29 CLG communities in Alabama.

Click here for CLG Training Opportunities

Program Partners

Jointly administered by NPS in partnership with SHPOs, the CLG Program is a model and cost-effective local, State, and federal partnership that promotes historic preservation at the grassroots level across the nation. Working closely with such national organizations as the National Association of Preservation Commissions, the CLG program seeks:
1) to develop and maintain local historic preservation programs that will influence the zoning and permitting decisions critical to preserving historic properties, and
2) to ensure the broadest possible participation of local governments in the national historic preservation program while maintaining preservation standards established by the Secretary of the Interior.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Benefits of Being a CLG?
The benefits to local governments from participating in the CLG program are numerous. While CLG grants generally represent a relatively small amount of funds, they have often been used as seed money to attract funding from local government or other sources. Also, in many cases, the products generated by CLG grants have provided credibility to a fledgling local historic preservation program. Beyond being just a source of funds, the CLG program has helped institutionalize historic preservation and give it legitimacy as a function of local government. Since the local government staff working in the Program are often in the local planning office, the CLG program has helped forge critical connections between historic preservation and land use planning. Similarly, the CLG program has led to increased cooperation between local preservationists and the State Historic Preservation Office and resulted in a strengthened statewide preservation network.

Where does funding for CLG grants come from?
Funding for grants to Certified Local Governments comes from the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF), a Federal grants program appropriated by the U.S. Congress and administered by the National Park Service (NPS), which provides financial support to State Preservation Offices (SHPOs). Under the provisions of the National Historic Preservation Act, as amended, SHPOs are required to award at least 10% of their annual HPF monies to CLGs in their State. (Some States have additional State funds for CLGs.)

What types of projects are eligible for CLG funding?
HPF grants to Certified Local Governments have funded a wide variety of local historic preservation projects. CLG project types that have been funded include the following:
"architectural, historical, archeological surveys, and oral histories
"preparation of nominations to the National Register of Historic Places
"research and development of historic context information
"staff work for historic preservation commissions, including designation of properties under local landmark ordinances
"writing or amending preservation ordinances
"preparation of preservation plans
"publication information and education activities
"publication of historic sites inventories
"development of publication of walking/driving tours
"development of slide/tape shows, videotapes
"training for commission members and staff
"development of architectural drawings and specifications
"preparation of facade studies or condition assessments
"rehabilitation or restoration of properties individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places or contributing to a National Register historic district

What other criteria govern whether a local historic preservation project is eligible for funding?
There are two other factors: all CLG grants must result in a completed, tangible product and/or measurable result; and all must be carried out in accordance with the applicable Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Archeology and Historic Preservation (a copy may be obtained from the SHPO).

How much money is there in a CLG grant?
The amount of money in a CLG grant must be large enough to have tangible results. Otherwise, there are no specific Federal requirements regarding the amount of money SHPOs make available in individual grants to CLGs. Consequently, the dollar amount of the grant depends primarily on the funding policy set by each SHPO. Some States try to award a grant to each CLG in the State every year. In general, the dollar amount of grants in these States tend to be small, particularly if there are numerous CLGs. On the other hand, other States award relatively few but larger grants.

Do CLG grants require a financial contribution from the CLG?
In most states, CLG grants are matching grants, i.e. recipients must provide a certain amount of cash or in-kind services to be used in carrying out the grant project. Each SHPO determines how much, if any, match is to be required. In most States, a 50/50, or "dollar-for-dollar" match is required. This means that for every dollar received the recipient must provide a matching dollar in services, cash, or volunteer hours, as specified by State policy.

How do SHPOs notify CLGs of the availability of CLG grants?
SHPOs makes an annual mailing to each CLG, and each local government whose application for certification is pending, notifying them of the availability of CLG grant funds. Potential CLG applicants are informed of the total amount of funds available. State priorities for funding, criteria to be used in selecting proposals to be funded (see below), a deadline for submitting requests, and a written description of what must be included in applications for CLG grants.

What are the application procedures?
Although application procedures and periods vary from State to State, in general, the SHPO solicits grant proposals from its CLGs in the Fall. Applicants then submit a Grant Application (or Subgrant or Project Proposal), which describes the project and why it is needed, how the project is to be carried out and what its goals are, who will be doing the proposed work and their professional qualifications, a proposed budget and project schedule, and the specific products to be generated by the project. Applications are generally due at the end of the calendar year. Contact your SHPO and the specific deadlines in your State. (Applicants should also determine what local procedures and requirements, if any, must be satisfied prior to submitting a CLG grant application.)

Who decides which applications are funded?
Each SHPO sets its own funding priorities. In some States, greater weight may be given to one type of a project over another. Among the factors typically used to rate grant proposals are compatibility with the broad goals of the SHPO, urgency of the project, significance of the historic properties, geographic distribution of grant funds, education and public awareness potential, and the administrative and financial management capability of the applicant.

On what grounds may SHPOs decline to fund an individual CLG grant request?
CLG grants are competitive. While all CLGs are entitled to submit proposals, not all may get funding. SHPOs may decline to fund a proposal that does not adequately address the State's funding priorities, meet its selection criteria, have access to necessary professionals, or be achievable within the time period allowed or the budget proposed. However, States must base grant award decisions on the selection criteria included in the application instructions and notice of grant availability. Additionally, SHPOs may choose not to fund a proposal if they have reason to believe that the applicant does not have the necessary experience or financial resources to carry out the project or has not performed satisfactorily on a previous CLG grant.

When are proposals selected?
While periods vary, successful applicants usually receive notification in the Spring that their proposal will be funded. In some States, the State Historical Commission must approve recommendations about which proposals should receive funding by the professional staff of the SHPO. An agreement between the SHPO and the CLG stipulating the terms of the grant is generally signed in the Spring or Summer.

When can work begin?
Applicants for CLG funds must wait until the grant agreement between the SHPO and the CLG's chief elected local official, or his or her legal representative, is signed before starting work on any project. Unless specifically authorized in writing by the SHPO, costs incurred prior to execution of the written agreement will not be paid.

How long does the grant last?
The schedule for completing the project will be outlined in the grant agreement. Most CLG grant projects are completed within 9 to 18 months. Projects undertaken with CLG grant funds must be completed in no more than two years from October 1, the start of the Federal fiscal year of the year the funds are appropriated by Congress. Since the grant agreement usually is not signed until the Spring after the start of the Federal fiscal year (depending upon when Congress makes its appropriation), there is usually less than two years in which to complete the work. Multi-year projects require applying for separate grants in successive years and performing the work in phases.

Can the time be extended?
If circumstances outside of the control of the CLG make the terms of the grant agreement unachievable, the agreement may be modified or cancelled by mutual agreement between the SHPO and the CLG. For example, if inclement weather interferes with field survey and prevents completion of the work specified in the grant agreement within the time stipulated, a limited time extension may be granted or the scope of work and budget amended. However, extensions may not stretch the grant period beyond the two-year limit on the expenditure of HPF monies. (See question above.)

When are the grant funds actually transferred to the CLG?
Most CLG grants are reimbursable grants. CLGs must first pay the project costs and then submit a request to the SHPO for reimbursement. Consequently, the CLG must have enough money "up-front" to be able to carry the project (including paying contractors) until it gets reimbursed. CLGs should learn the requirements and timing of the State's reimbursement procedures before the project begins.

Does the CLG have to complete the project before being reimbursed?
Not always, depending on the type of project funded, many SHPOs allow CLGs to submit reimbursement claims on an interim "milestone achieved" basis.

Why is matching share required?
In establishing a partnership between Federal, State, and local governments, the National Historic Preservation Act requires that HPF grants be matching grants. Underlying this requirement is the need for each of the partners to share the costs of historic preservation. Matching grants ensure that there is strong State and local commitment to projects and result in more historic preservation work being performed than if Federal funds alone were involved.

How can the grant be matched?
Grants can be matched in two ways: in cash or through in-kind services (often called "soft match") necessary to achieve the required product. Generally, CLGs can combine these two types of match to meet the total amount required. Match requirements, however, vary by State.

Can the time spent by CLG staff on the project be counted as match?
Yes. In most States, work on the project performed by the staff of the local government is considered part of the overall cost of the project and can be counted as part of the CLG's match. Copies of time sheets and payroll printouts are required as documentation of employee time devoted to the project. CLGs must include staff time in the project budget, like any other cost, if they plan to claim it as match.

Can the services of volunteers be counted as in-kind match?
Yes. Many States allow services provided by volunteers, both professional and nonprofessional, to be counted as match by CLGs. The work performed by volunteers must be a necessary part of achieving the products expected from the project and cannot be more than half its total cost.

When used as match, how are volunteer services valued?
In order to claim volunteer services as in-kind match, CLGs must first establish the rate of pay for the type of work performed by the volunteers. Often SHPO pay scales establish the maximum rate allowed for professionals. If a volunteer performs services outside his or her profession, the volunteer time must be valued at the Federal minimum wage rate (for example, an archeologist stuffing envelopes would be valued at minimum wage rate). In addition, as evidence that volunteers contributed to the project, time records documenting each volunteer's time must be submitted to the State.

If a CLG chooses not to count volunteer services as match, does it still have to provide time records?
No. In most States, documentation of volunteer time spent on a project is only required when the CLG wishes this contribution to count as part of its matching share.

What other types of in-kind services can be counted as match?
Most States allow CLGs to claim as match in-kind services such as supplies (i.e., paper or film), developing photographs, photocopying, office rent, clerical support, or certain administrative costs when the local government or a third party donates these to the project. When a CLG chooses to count these supplies or services as match, documentation is required. If grant funds could have been used to pay for a particular item had it not been donated, then the donation will usually be allowable as a matching share contribution.

What sort of reports must be turned in?
Progress reports are usually required on an interim basis. These reports must include a description of what has actually been accomplished and spent to date. SHPOs set the format for these reports and require preliminary products, as appropriate. A final project report is also required upon completion of the grant.

What sort of procedures must be followed when a local government uses CLG grant funds to pay for consultants or contractors?
Hiring consultants or contractors to perform part of the project must be done in accordance with acceptable State-established competitive procurement procedures compatible with Federal requirements (and with whatever local procedures apply). Frequently, existing State and local government procedures that meet these requirements are used. A certain number of qualified firms or individuals must be contacted to ensure a fair, open, and competitive selection process. Generally, at least three price quotations or bids have to be obtained and the process must be documented. Architects, historians, or other professionals must meet qualification standards set by NPS. Selection can be based on experience, qualifications and cost, rather than cost alone. In many States, the SHPO requires that the CLG consult with it before consultants or contractors are selected.

Can CLG grant funds be used to buy supplies or equipment?
Yes. Local, State, and Federal regulations require price comparisons and a competitive selection process in purchasing equipment, negotiating a lease, or procuring nonprofessional services. Generally, State and local procurement regulations apply. Some SHPOs require grantees to request prior approval for purchases greater than $500 in value.

How long must records on grant expenditures be kept?
The grant agreement usually specifies records requirements. Documentation relating to the fiscal aspect of any grant project usually must be kept for a minimum of three years after the date of receipt of the last payment (i.e. reimbursement under a CLG grant), or until an audit for the grant period is accepted.

Where can I find additional information on CLG grants?
Your SHPO can answer any questions you might have. Many SHPOs have a grants manual describing the procedures used in that state for applying for and administering CLG grants (including any additional state requirements beyond those described here).

Click here for a list of contacts in Alabama communities participating in the CLG program.

For more information, contact Mary Shell, Preservation Planner, at 334-230.2691 or


Historic Preservation