Grants.Gov Mac Users Need Not Apply Yet

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Not in the short term, anyway; scientists and others who prefer Apple’s computers to Windows will have to wait a year for full compatibility with the new website.

Powerful defense contractor Northrup Grumman is constructing the Grants.Gov site, under a contract that will see it connect 26 federal grant-awarding agencies by 2007. The contract with the company has the government paying $22 million for the work.

The Washington Post reported how the new system won’t be Mac-friendly for nearly a year, at minimum. That issue compelled the National Institute of Health to forestall offering electronic applications for grants in October.

While being an inconvenient situation, the article cited one official’s take on some good sides to the Grants.Gov site:

Charles Havekost, chief information officer at the Health and Human Services Department, which helps manage Grants.gov, acknowledged that the system is “not perfect” but encouraged applicants to look at the positive side: They can go to one site and see every grant being offered by every federal agency, and use a standardized electronic form to start the process for most grants.

Ultimately, the plan should reduce much of the voluminous paperwork associated with grant applications, and improve the process for the end-user. That doesn’t make some users any happier right now, though. One blogger, Joseph Scott, wrote, “So the only way to submit an application to grants.gov for a government grant is purchase software from a government convicted monopoly? Talk about getting it coming and going.”

The Grants.Gov site posted how the issue with the proprietary PureEdge Viewer used to view the grant applications will be resolved for Mac users:

Grants.gov is working with PureEdge in the development of a Non-Windows compatible viewer. PureEdge has committed to providing a platform independent viewer by November 2006.

In the interim, Grants.Gov recommends using an alternative solution powered by Citrix for non-Windows platforms. Users must register with Grants.Gov before they can use the Citrix option or apply for grants online, which at this point means either going the Citrix route or using paper instead.

UPDATE! Dave Schroeder from the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Division of IT tipped me off to a Mac-focused solution to the Grants.Gov issue, and permitted me to share his comments:

“The University of Wisconsin has released a standalone package for using Grants.gov on Mac OS X as a service to the community. The package uses Citrix client software and a special settings file to access the central Citrix server provided by Grants.gov, allowing Mac OS X users to access and use the PureEdge software via the remote Windows machine running Citrix server software:


Also, Grants.gov and IBM still plan on having the native cross platform solution ready by November 2006.”

Additional information available here too: http://www.macresearch.org/grants_gov_for_mac_os_x

UPDATE! A reader noted Northrop Grumman’s press release that reads the contract is actually worth $7 million over the five year period. We’re trying to find out more about the discrepancy.
UPDATE! A spokesperson for Northrop Grumman said the contract is now for about $22 million, not billion.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Grants.Gov Mac Users Need Not Apply Yet
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