E-grants project readied

The federal government is launching a "storefront" project July 1 for state

and local governments to apply online for e-grants, one of five major initiatives

to help the government deliver its services electronically.

The e-grants project would use an existing portal, FedBizOpps, adding

details about applying for the estimated $400 billion in grants from the

federal government each year. The Health and Human Services Department issues

half the grants, including tens of millions of dollars to the states for

Medicaid. But other agencies also provide grants for everything from art

projects to community initiatives.

Charles Havekost, the e-grants program manager at the HHS, where the

project is being developed, said June 10 at a Digital Government Institute

conference on e-grants that the project would save money by avoiding the

cost of building its own portal. They also plan to use existing government

contract vehicles and off-the-shelf products. He likened the project to

a storefront, where people can shop for what they want.

Havekost said the $20 million price tag of the project would be spent

on such big-ticket items as an integrator, who will put all the pieces together.

Eventually, the public will be able to buy a package to apply for e-grants,

much like the public can buy tax preparation software.

The e-grant initiative is one of 24 government projects to bring electronic

services to the public. In April, the Office of Management and Budget selected

five e-government initiatives for funding, including e-grants. While the

project is to be launched in October 2003, there are many details still

to be worked out including signature authentication and whether to charge

a fee, according to Havekost.

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