New product grants agencies' wish

A new Web-based product launched by FreeBalance Inc. on Tuesday is designed

to help meet a federal requirement that agencies automate financial assistance

and grants systems by May 2001.

The FreeBalance eGrants system, which is already in use by the Canadian

Economic Development Agency, offers federal agencies an electronic management

system for grant and loan applications, assessments, awards and analysis

of those programs, said Gordon Graham, FreeBalance vice president of marketing.

FreeBalance eGrants also is designed to connect with an agency's financial

management system to allow the management of payment obligations and claims.

"We're really coming at this problem from the inside out," said Graham,

who is presenting the software to several federal agencies with large grant

programs, such as the Agriculture Department and the Department of Housing

and Urban Development. "We know what the back office looks like."

Graham estimates that the federal government awards about $300 billion

in grants annually. FreeBalance is targeting agencies with different types

of requirements that could help improve the product, he said.

FreeBalance, which offers other solutions in the financial systems area

of e-government, created its eGrants system in response to the Federal Financial

Assistance Management Improvement Act of 1999 to make financial assistance

programs more efficient and cost-effective. The law, signed Nov. 20, 1999,

requires agencies to implement plans for electronic financial service delivery

by May 2001.

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