FDP Meeting notes (Day 1)

I finally made it to the FDP meeting today, just in time for the last presentation of the day, which is fortunate because I won’t be at the meeting tomorrow at all. (Clients want meetings; I consider myself fortunate!) Unfortunately Mark Bussow’s presentation about FFATA has been canceled, but Eric Brenner is presenting about the National Grants Partnership’s Presidential Transition paper*, and Michael Pellegrino about Grants.gov’s cloud computing initiative. Notes on each are below.

Eric Brenner: NGP Presidential Transition Paper

  • Formula grants should be more available on Grants.gov.
  • USASpending.gov should attach to Grants.gov so users can track applications through award.
  • The whole grants management ecosystem should be consolidated.
  • Expand the remit of the FDP to cover other people in the grants world (e.g. non-profits, state and tribal governments, etc.).
Michael Pellegrino: Grants.gov
  • Submission growth is up by 7%. AOR registration is up 35%, and calls to the call center are down 4.5%.
  • Most visitors to Grants.gov are unique visitors (e.g. never visited before).
  • Mike reviewed some current system issues, including:
  • Intermittent erroneous e‑mails being sent to applicants after submission.
  • The testing environment (AT07) is unstable.
  • Speed and reliability initiative is not complete (originally scheduled for 10/08). (Interesting note here: The system is moving from their current LDAP implementation because it could only handle 360 concurrent users. The new target is 2,000 concurrent users. This will significantly help the slow-down issue!)
  • Build 2008-03 is delayed (originally scheduled for deployment 1/10/09). New date is TBD. The new build will include additional RSS parameters.
  • Broken pipe: Adobe Reader v.8.1.3 version will successfully submit without receiving this error
  • On the Adobe Transition: NIH has now migrated; USDA, NSF, and Energy are going to be migrated

Build 2008-03 enhancements include:
  • The Grants.gov tracking number will be at the beginning of the subject line in all e‑mail notifications
  • Applicant S2S: Warnings will be generated for special characters
  • Agencies will not be able to build new PureEdge opportunities
  • The third step of the registration process will be changing as the e‑authentication office currently in place is sun-setting. Existing AORs will be migrated; these users will be asked to verify their profile upon their first login after migration. New registrants will be guided through the new registration process.

Mike talked about the planned cloud computing migration:

  • First, he gave a few definitions of terms (“utility computing”, “communication as a service”, etc.).
  • Grants.gov seeks to get the following benefits:
  • Handle higher grant application volumes and overall increased workload
  • Better support the transfer of application data and attachments from applicant organizations through Grants.gov to the intended agencies
  • More effective customer support and system services
  • An RFI was issued and responses received. The RFP will be next. A bidders conference will be held as part of the procurement process. 
  • The migration will be 3 phases. The first will migrate the existing system to work in the cloud, and establish stability. Phase 2 will be to address productivity enhancements requested from the community through a redesign effort. It will also include establishment of service level agreements. Phase 3 will be to verify stability of the Phase 2 transition.
  • New vendor is targeted to be award in June 2009. 
  • The RFP has gone through the Grants.gov PMO and will now be reviewed by agencies before being issued.

In answer to the question “Do you mean that you will be charging the agencies based on their usage?”, Eben Trebino answered, “Not now but in the future, yes, once we have better data about our costs and usage.” 

A question was asked about who is providing leadership in consolidating forms and processes. Eben Trebino noted that OMB owns the forms; once approved, Grants.gov builds the forms. 

[* Disclosure: I am a member of he NGP Steering Committee, and TCG hosts the NGP web site and blog.]