Key Actions by:

Standard 16: Accountable and timely project close-out.

Close out the project in a way that is responsive and accountable to participants, partners, host or local governments and donors.

Develop a comprehensive, realistic project close-out plan that details roles, responsibilities, timelines and activities, and reflects donor requirements.

  • When
    • For multi-year projects: Develop the initial project close-out plan between 12-18 months before the project end date, depending on project length and complexity.
    • For projects of 12 months or less: Develop the initial project close-out plan 3-4 months before the project end date.

    Plan then refine: While it’s important to develop the close-out plan well before the project end date, treat the plan as a living document. Add detail as the close-out process progresses, review the plan on a regular basis, and update activities, responsibilities, and timelines as needed (see Standard 16, key action 3 for guidance on regular reviews of the close-out plan).

  • Partnership
  • When CRS is a sub-recipient
    • Although the prime is responsible for the overall project close-out plan, CRS still needs to develop a comprehensive close-out plan to ensure timely and accountable close-out of the activities for which CRS and any CRS sub-recipients or contractors are responsible.
    • Reach out to the prime around 14-18 months before the project end date for a multi-year project and 4-6 months before the project end date for a project of 12 months or less, to ask about the prime’s schedule and plans for developing an overall project close-out plan.Note that some primes may not use the language of a project close-out plan but may refer instead to the detailed implementation plan or work plan for the final project year/period. The prime has the authority and responsibility to engage with the donor around close-out requirements and timelines. However, it’s extremely important for CRS and partners to understand these requirements and be aware of any plans by the prime to seek an award modification (e.g., a cost or no-cost extension) that could impact the timing and scope of CRS and partner close-out activities.
    • Ideally, the prime should organize a planning workshop to develop the project close-out plan/DIP for the final project year or period. Work with the prime to ensure that CRS and partner representatives participate in these events, to better understand expectations and responsibilities. Equally important, participation helps ensure that project close-out plan timelines and responsibilities reflect CRS’ and partners’ understanding of the operating context, programming and operations realities, and close-out experience and lessons learned.
    • Following the prime-led development of an overall project close-out plan, CRS and partners should develop more detailed close-out plans for the components of the project for which they are responsible – follow the steps above.
    • If the prime is not planning a participatory close-out plan development process, CRS and partners should follow the steps above to develop their own project close-out plans. Before working on the CRS and partner plans, confirm the prime’s close-out expectations and deadlines (as specified in CRS’ agreement with the prime). Once CRS and any partners have developed close-out plans, share key details of these plans with the prime and alert the prime to any anticipated challenges or issues in the close-out process.
  • Emergency projects
    • Close-out planning for emergency projects, which tend to be of shorter duration, is likely to be integrated in ongoing coordination and review meetings. Telescope the project close-out planning process and be sure to use the appropriate version of the Comprehensive Project Close-out Plan Template (e.g. the version for projects < 12 months for short-term emergency projects).
    • If the emergency project will be followed by a recovery project, project staff and assets may transition from the emergency project to the recovery project. Keep in mind, however, that there are still close-out processes related to those transitions. Proper planning of programmatic, financial, and other operations activities to close out the emergency project is still important. Failure to plan and complete emergency project close-out activities will lead to the project team’s attention being diverted from recovery to “close-out clean-up” for the emergency project.
    • As noted in previous standards (e.g. Standard 13, key action 4), for large-scale emergency responses where many donors may have contributed to an overall response framework, financial close-out and final reporting can be especially challenging and time-consuming, especially where reclassifications of expenses may be needed. In such cases, be sure to plan sufficient time for financial close-out.
    • For closure of a Caritas Internationalis Emergency Appeal, follow the procedure in the Caritas Internationalis (CI) Emergency Response Toolkit Manual. This document is available on the CI Baobab site. If you are not registered on the CI Baobab site, please register here.When registering for the CI Baobab site, CRS staff should select "Caritas United States - CRS" as their organization and list the Humanitarian Response Department and as the reference contact. If you have any questions, please contact CRS’ Humanitarian Response Department (