Northrop Grumman to develop E-Grants portal

Grants.Gov

The Department of Health and Human Services this week awarded a contract to Northrop Grumman Information Technology to implement the federal electronic grants portal.

Grants.gov, one of the 24 e-government initiatives formerly known as E-Grants, is a one-stop portal for applicants seeking funding from about 900 federal programs.

The contract has a potential value of $7 million over the five year period if all options are exercised. The contact was awarded in March but was just announced this week.

"This is to complete the entire system for applying for grants through one common interface," said Northrop Grumman IT's Grants.gov program manager Mike Atassi.

Atassi expects the first phase of the project to roll out in October, followed by incremental additions of functionality and grant programs as data about those programs becomes available.

The Grants.gov solution is based on Northrop Grumman's InflowSuite product, which they used to implement the Securities and Exchange Commission's Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval system (a database of corporate filings). The system accepts and validates applications, responds to users through e-mail and packages the application for submission to the agency, Atassi said.

Currently, agencies can publish grant opportunities in two sites — the General Services Administration's FedGrants.gov and Grants.gov. The two will eventually be integrated into a single site, Atassi said.

Northrop Grumman IT's solution was chosen because it allows the applicant to download the application and work on it offline, Atassi said. They can route the application through their organization and submit it through Grants.gov when completed.

"We proposed a solution that does not require 24-7 connectivity to the Internet," Atassi said. "A lot of grant applicants don't have constant connectivity, especially in remote areas."

Once the application is submitted, Northrop Grumman validates it, scans for viruses or empty data fields, converts it to an XML file and sends it to the agency.

"It's pretty exciting," Atassi said of the initiative. "This grants.gov is a little ahead of the game in a lot of its operation procedures and we're hoping we can establish a lessons learned and a good track record for other e-gov initiatives."

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