Fear Factor: The Grants.gov edition

27 Oct
Not Grants.gov!

Don't panic. And don't wait until the last minute.

 With my Terrible Federal Grant Deadline behind me, I can reflect on any one of a dozen harrowing moments I experienced over the last few weeks. One being dealing with Grants.gov, the online system for finding and submitting federal grant opportunities.

I have been extremely resistant to using Grants.gov, opting for paper submission when possible. When it comes down to it, I trust Fed Ex a lot more than I do the plain old Feds. My reticence comes from personal experience and Grant Writer Urban Myths, along with caveats from the Feds themselves.

I have heard that the system is buggy. This would fall under the category of Scary Stories that Grant Writers Tell Each Other. True, the system was terribly unreliable when it was first launched years ago, and that Pure Edge Viewer mess was, well, a mess. They don’t really use that anymore, instead converting to a PDF system. More on that in another post.

Some months back when the stimulus money was released, the system was observed to become overloaded due to the volume of people on it, both searching for grant opportunities and submitting proposals. This could be disastrous for someone submitting at the last minute. In fact, I had the great distinction of doing such a thing, and I do not recommend it. An online submission, especially on Grants.gov is not to be used to buy extra time to let you work until the deadline.

In fact, the system was so overloaded that it crashed repeatedly while I was trying to hit SUBMIT and I ended up missing the deadline by one minute. A call to Grants.gov resulting in no sympathy, even though I missed the deadline due to their error. Thankfully, the guidelines allowed for mailing the grant, postmarked by the deadline.  So I printed, copied, and made a mad dash to the post office.

This time around I had no choice. Great and Terrible Federal Funder required the use of Grants.gov, so I had to suck it up. The worst of it was the fear the Great and Terrible Funder instilled in all of us on repeated technical assistance conference calls regarding the use of the system. Frankly, their view of the system was rooted in inaccurate information, over reaction and a sort of disconnect with the reality of how the system works.

So my final word on Grants.gov, for now, is…it’s not all that bad. Once you are sure of what you are doing and give yourself ample time ( we submitted on a Saturday to meet a Monday deadline), it’s not that bad.

More later on how to face The Beast head on, prepared, with no fear.


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