NSF's Digital Government Grant Program to Fund Research

State and local agencies have less than a month to file grant proposals for the National Science Foundation's Digital Government Grant Program. Launched last year for federal agencies, NSF this year has opened up the program to state and local agencies. About $3 million is up for grabs for fiscal 2000.

"We're afraid of the tidal wave, but we've decided to try it," said Larry Brandt, program officer for the Digital Government Grant Program.

The scope of the program is broad: to fund research projects that use networking and other advanced information technologies to improve agency, interagency and intergovernment operations, and government-to-citizen interactions. These projects will help the government information systems community make the most effective use of advanced information technologies.

Ultimately, NSF envisions using the findings from the projects to help form a long-term strategy for migrating government information services from legacy systems to more integrated global delivery systems.

The only catch for state and local agencies in applying for funds is that their projects must have the support of a federal agency. "We have required that they make a connection with a federal agency to make sure the topic area and work proposed is relevant to some federal agency's mission," said Brandt, adding that the connection could come in the form of a letter of support.

Brandt envisions a wide range of project areas, including housing, geographic information systems, community development and crisis response. "This year, we've added language about large software development projects. We are not eliminating anything," he said. "We've also had a lot of interest from the Department of Justice, so topics that have to do with law enforcement would be interesting to get."

The deadline for submitting proposals is July 15. Awards will be made in January. A detailed description of potential topic areas considered for the program can be found at www.nsf.gov/home.cise.

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