House calls for single grants database

Bill moves to Senate

The House has passed legislation to establish a public database for tracking federal grants, a move that advocates say will bring a new level of transparency to
the government grant-making process.

The bill, HR 5060, requires the government to post such information as to whom a grant was awarded, a breakdown of assistance by agency and program source, all awards a grantee has received over the past 10 years and a list of dates and amounts of federal financial assistance the grantee has received.

The information should be posted 30 days after a grant has been awarded.

House majority whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Government Reform Committee chairman Tom Davis (R-Va.) introduced the bill in late March.

The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

“This bill creates a transparent system for reviewing federal grants so that Congress, the press, and the American public have the information they need to conduct proper oversight of the use of our tax dollars,” Blunt said.

Experts believe the database is necessary because of the breadth of federal grant opportunities. Blunt and Davis said the federal government hands out more than $400 billion a year to 30,000 organizations, but there is no consistent way to track it.

The Office of Management and Budget and the Health and Human Services Department led the Grants.gov e-government project, which developed the front-end system. Grants.gov lets grant seekers find and apply for federal grants online.

Experts have said Grants.gov is one of the most successful of the original 25 Quicksilver e-government projects.

Grants.gov reported in May that it has received more than 45,000 grant applications electronically.

In a press release, Grants.gov acting program manager John Etcheverry said, “Reaching the 45,000 milestone so quickly testifies to the efforts of our agencies in posting their grant packages and communicating with their applicant communities.”

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