Grants Systems and the Aircraft Carrier

February 1, 2011 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

What’s the old saw about turning around an aircraft carrier and change not happening overnight? Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the U.S.S. Federal Government.

Not that this is anything new, mind you, but certain ideas bandied about years ago are starting to irk those that the government serves. This came to a head at the recent Federal Demonstration Partnership meeting. During a federal agency update session, officials with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration were touting their NSPIRES electronic submission system and questioned why so many organizations were opting to submit to Grants.gov rather than NSPIRES. During the question and answer phase, many university representatives in the audience questioned why the agency continued to operate and fund the NSPIRES system rather than having all agencies use Grants.gov as the sole grants submission system.

Although the NASA officials defended NSPIRES for addressing their agency’s unique needs, it was obvious that there was some tension in the room.

The issue was brought up in a later session on the Grants Management Line of Business, with the Office of Management and Budget’s Marguerite Pridgen serving on the panel. She agreed that the initial goal when Grants.gov was developed was to have a single grants submission system, but getting to that point, if at all possible, will take some time. “We’re dealing with a large federal government with many agencies and many processes,” she said. “The reality is there are a lot of steps we’ll have to take, and in the meantime business has to go on. We have to let people work towards that so we don’t have a stoppage of work.”

And so we go on … waiting to see how long the aircraft carrier takes to turn around. Any thoughts on how long this will take? We will provide more details on this in the March Federal Grants Management Handbook newsletter.

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