What is Grants.gov

Grants.gov is a government initiative that will have an unparalleled effect on the grantee community. As an online system, Grants.gov is focused on improving access to services via the Internet. It is currently the single access point for over 900 grant programs offered by the 26 Federal grant-making agencies, allowing organizations to electronically find and apply for competitive grant opportunities. As the portal for grant applications, Grants.gov will replace federal agency-specific proposal submission systems that have grown in recent years, most notably NSF's FastLane, DOE's IIPS, and NASA's NSPIRES. Applications will be submitted electronically by institutions through the Grants.gov portal to be forwarded to the respective funding agencies; over time applicants will no longer apply directly to individual funding agencies.

UW-Madison has been submitting an increasing number of proposals through Grants.gov over the last two months. We are expecting that the number of submissions will rapidly increase. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requires that all of the federal grants-making agencies to post their grant applications to Grants.gov. Along with the application packages, OMB has further provided targets for the actual number of proposals that must be submitted electronically via Grants.gov.

To achieve the targets established by OMB, the federal agencies have developed various implementation plans. Some agencies will mandate that all proposals for a certain program be submitted via Grants.gov while other federal agencies will post multiple announcements letting the grantee community self-select Grants.gov as the submission vehicle. Regardless of the implementation strategy, one thing is certain – the forms used to prepare the grant application will be significantly different.

Grants.gov has been working with all the Federal agencies to create a new set of forms for all grant applications. These forms are generically known as the SF 424. Once fully implemented, all agencies must retire their current forms in favor of the Grants.gov SF 424 Research & Related (R&R) forms packages. As an example, NIH will be giving up their 398 forms in favor of the newly created Grants.gov SF 424 R&R application. Even NSF has developed plans to retire the proposal preparation functionality of FastLane and transition to Grants.gov for online submissions. While these changes will not happen overnight, we can expect to see an increase in the number of applications that must be processed via Grants.gov in order for the agencies to meet the targets established by OMB.

The application packages provided on Grants.gov are all based on the “core” set of SF 424 forms. Some of the federal agencies will only use the core set of forms provided by Grants.gov. Others will need to augment the standard forms with agency-specific forms. Only those forms contained in the agency-specific application package or permitted by the specific program announcement are allowed when using the Grants.gov electronic form submission process.

It is important to note that paper copy proposals will not be permitted for Grants.gov submissions.