I do not envy those folks over at grants.gov. What a hurculean undertaking to provide a unified entryway into finding and applying for federal grants [author’s inquiry – is there a grants.gov plan to support the full grants lifecycle, from apply to closeout?]. The politics involved. The clear communication needed. The strong leadership and management structure needed.
Can I assume that the previous contractor failed? Did they not deliver on time, within cost, and with agreed-upon quality measures? If they failed, was it entirely their fault or were there federal government management lapses? Can the American public not renew the contracts of any federal government leadership that may have failed?
Of course I’m being facetious, but I want to point out that at the end of the day, a project fails because its leadership did not plan accordingly. And of course when a project fails, is the solution to simply hire a new contractor who may have won on a low bid, quickly bring them up to speed, and then assume they will be the silver bullet to satisfy all stakeholders? Without knowing the capabilities of both the former and current contractor, it seems the easy target is to give the contractor the boot rather than to conduct a “lessons learned” within your own ranks and make necessary changes (both to personnel and policy).
I’ve talked about incompatability issues between the Mac OS platform and grants.gov in the past [see here], so it does not surprise me that there still is no resolution to this issue. To be quite honest, I’m surprised that the issue is important enough to warrant a Washington Post article.
But that brings us back to a fundamental theme. Although the federal government is required to provide an option for people to transact with them electronically, do they serve the public’s best interests by favoring one operating system over another or by forcing people to conduct their business electronically? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
“So, the question is, why does this federal site (grants.gov), which has the authority for consolidating the business of grant funding among a majority of federal agencies, have the authority to mandate a technology that can only be used by users of one operating system? There are federal mandates such as Section 508 that provide for equal access to web applications for handicapped individuals. Shouldn’t there be an equal access technology policy too?”
Rick and Dave point out that a Mac client solution has been underway, but it seems the better plan might be to simply create a cross-platform solution, perhaps using the Java platform.