Grants.gov

I was appalled when Grants.gov, the U.S.’s site for academics and others to apply for Federal grants, implemented and mandated the use of a Windows-only client. Who thought that was a good idea? Who checked for possible problems before mandating it?

It was painful last year, and it hasn’t greatly improved this year. At least now they’re acknowledging that there are problems with that approach, sort of. They’re providing a Citrix server for Mac and Unix users to connect to in order to start a Windows session to apply for grants. However, it’s slow and has been described to me as a nightmare to go through. It only allows a limited number of connections, and you have to save very often or you could get knocked off and lose all of your data. They’re switching to Adobe forms by April 2007 in order to support Mac and Unix users as well. (Still not ideal in my mind, but a great deal better than what is currently available.)

They are also touting IBM’s early release of a Mac version of Workplace. IBM has created and is providing this early relase (read: buggy), but it doesn’t support large documents (> 40 MB, which you’d better believe we have in grants), it’s not accessible at all and we’re warned of crashes and loss of data. Right now we’re checking out a Windows laptopto our faculty because of all of the problems associated with applying for grants on the platforms that some of our professors actually prefer. This situation is ridiculous.

Comments (4) left to “Grants.gov”

  1. Bob Beattie wrote:

    At the Univesity of Michigan we have been using the IBM workplace forms program for Macs — intel and not –since January, 2007 with great success. People on campus have been preparing applications, one was even 70mb. Our grants office has been sending them — some 300 with no flaws due to computers. None of the “problems” you cite have occurred.

    The situation is no longer “ridiculous.” Get the new viewer and get on with your proposals via the Mac.

  2. Carlos Ovalle wrote:

    That’s good to know. At the time, the process took a lot of our time, and our users were incredibly frustrated with the whole procedure.

  3. copy this blog » Grants.gov process improved? wrote:

    […] Got a comment on an old post from Bob Beattie at Michigan. http://sentra.ischool.utexas.edu/~i312co/blog/?p=146 […]

  4. apply wrote:

    ‘Windows-only’ are only offices of Microsoft probably, rest ones don’t forget MAC/OS…

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