Project brings grants programs to light

Putting federal programs under Grants.gov's spotlight also illuminated common ground between seemingly unrelated agencies and programs.

'HHS' Rebecca Spitzgo

J. Adam Fenster

Grants.gov has helped shine light on more than 900 disparate grant programs tucked into cracks and crevices of the federal government.

When project officials sought grant programs to list on the Web portal, they found a few that even officials at their parent agencies knew little about.

'We went to some agencies that didn't do a lot of grants, and they weren't even sure where the grants in their agency were coming from,' said Rebecca Spitzgo, Grants.gov program manager at the Health and Human Services Department, the initiative's managing partner.

'We had a meeting at an agency not long ago and they had all the [grant] people at the table, but it was clear that it was the first time some of them had ever talked to each other,' she said. 'Grants.gov brought them together.'

The agencies themselves helped draw programs into the light. When officials published the final policy notice for the component of the system that lets users search for grant opportunities, Spitzgo started getting calls about programs buried deep in huge departments, such as Defense.

'In many ways, we've had to rely on the agencies to push the information down [about Grants.gov] and find all the little niches,' she said.

Putting federal grant programs under Grants.gov's spotlight also illuminated common ground between seemingly unrelated agencies and programs, Spitzgo said. For example, a keyword search under 'health' will turn up health-related grant programs not just at Health and Human Services but at the Education Department and the Agency for International Development.

'You start to see how some programs tie into others,' she said. 'Grants.gov brings together that cross section of programs.'

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