HHS awards General Dynamics Grants.gov deal

The Health and Human Services Department has awarded General Dynamics Information Technology of Fairfax, Va., a contract valued at up to $18.9 million to develop a Grants.gov electronic-submission system that is compatible with all platforms.

Grants.gov, one of the original governmentwide e-government initiatives, lets seekers of federal grants find and apply for opportunities through a single portal.

Critical to Grants.gov is that it can perform on any platform and with any browser, HHS said in its solicitation. Currently, Grants.gov is geared for Windows users but provides workarounds and Windows emulation through Citrix software for Mac users.

General Dynamics will create by April 1 a Grants.gov system that is compatible with Windows, Macintosh, Unix and Linux systems, said John Etcheverry, Grants.gov program manager. General Dynamics will use electronic Adobe Systems Inc. for software and electronic forms applications for Mac compatibility.

Grants.gov is working with Anteon International Corp., which General Dynamics acquired during the summer, to provide the system. The partnership with Anteon should broaden usability and access to Grants.gov regardless of platform.

“Our task in the coming year will be to complete the transition from a start-up project to a steady-state operation,” Etcheverry said.

Northrop Grumman Corp. holds the original Grants.gov contract, which expires Nov. 1.
The contractor has been working with IBM Corp. and Pure Edge Inc. of Victoria, British Columbia, which produces the electronic forms, to develop a Mac client and expects to have a working version by Nov. 1, said HHS spokesman Bill Hall.

“Assuming that takes place, that will be a current solution that will help Mac users,” he said.

The issue of Mac compatibility came up last year. It was not in the original Grants.gov contract. Grants.gov decided to fix the problem, and Northrop Grumman began the process to develop a Pure Edge Mac client. At the same time, the agency developed the solicitation as part of the contract renewal.

“It was made clear that the issue of Mac compatibility was one element that would be required for next contract period,” Hall said.

The General Dynamics contract, which HHS awarded last week, has a one-year base worth $4.5 million, and four one-year options.

Grants.gov had received more than 60,000 grant submissions for this fiscal year as of the end of June and expects 85,000 by the end of the year, Etcheverry said. OMB has said agencies should post 75 percent of their grant application packages on Grants.gov.

Grants.gov recently expanded the choice of credential service providers for agency users to three federally approved authentication providers. Grants.gov is the first major e-government initiative to adopt the federal E-Authentication model.

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