Jason Miller at FederalNewsRadio reports this morning that the agencies who moved away from Grants.gov to service Recovery Act grants must start using it again by March 31. The instruction was included in budget passback language provided to agencies earlier this month.
This news was anticipated but will still come as a disappointment to many who experienced a great deal of success in building their own grant application receipt mechanisms for ARRA grants. OMB told agencies to find alternatives to Grants.gov for Recovery Act grant applications, where possible, due to concerns with Grants.gov’s performance. HHS, which runs Grants.gov, has spent $6 million to improve the system’s performance, and the system appears to have become more stable as a result.
Over many years, OMB and agencies worked together to develop a single platform for grant opportunity publication and application receipt. OMB appears unwilling to discard that investment of time and resources and allow agencies to continue to develop alternative solutions.
In the meantime, GSA, Energy, and Interior have been developing a pilot system that replicates much of Grants.gov’s existing functionality, with the goal of establishing a more robust application and technical architecture for the next version of the system. It is unknown when or if this pilot will ever be used in full production for all agencies, or when that might happen.