GSA portal will carry e-Grants services

The project will save money by using the www.fedbizopps.gov site and will be 'used by vendors to search for contract opportunities on FedBizOpps.'

'Charles Havekost, HSS

Henrik G. DeGyor

The Health and Human Services Department this month launched the first phase of its e-Grants project, which will let users search for grant opportunities on one Web site.

Twenty-six agencies will use the General Services Administration's FedBizOpps portal, at www.FedBizOpps.gov, to post grant announcements, said Charles Havekost, e-Grants program manager at HHS, the lead agency on the governmentwide program.

Through e-Grants, one of the 24 Quicksilver e-government initiatives, the Office of Management and Budget wants a unified mechanism that will help applicants identify grant opportunities and apply online.

Departments such as Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Labor and Transportation, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and National Science Foundation will be able to process applications online.

Users now search for grant opportunities on each department's Web site and follow up with phone calls to make sure their applications are being processed, a time-consuming and frustrating process.

Havekost said the first part of e-Grants will be a two-month pilot.

The second phase, in which users will be able to apply for grants online, will be completed by October 2003, he said.

The project will save money by using an existing portal instead of building a new one, Havekost said, adding 'the portal will work in a similar way'it is used by vendors to search for contract opportunities on www.FedBizOpps.gov.'

RFP searches

FedBizOpps acts as a one-stop shop for vendors looking for government contracting opportunities.

Just as vendors can find opportunities by department, and the dates a contract was posted and awarded, users will be able to search for grants using similar criteria, Havekost said.

Agencies will upload announcements to the site using Extensible Markup Language, he said.

Officials are still working out many details, including how to authenticate users' digital signatures and whether to charge a fee, Havekost said.

Similarly, HHS has yet to decide whether users will apply for grants by using XML or electronic data interchange.

Once the portal is ready, HHS expects to save $1 billion in federal funds used in the administration of grants and save about $20 million in postage.

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