Alternatives Under Consideration

Update: Per Nature News, “All [NIH] applications must be submitted through, according to agency spokesperson Bill Hall.”

Jiminy Cricket! A new funding mechanism covering hundreds of scientifically diverse research topics to be scored under new scoring procedures using new review criteria by as yet unidentified reviewers untrained in this process … and now, the feds suddenly realized might not be up to the task of receiving 1.3 million submissions at 5 p.m. ET on April 27th.

Fortunately, OMB Director Peter Orszag is all over this in a recent memo:

One area of risk that has been identified is in the operation of As the central portal where citizens may find and apply for competitive grants, has experienced an increasing volume of activity in the past several months. This load has far exceeded the throughput originally anticipated by the system and has at times resulted in noticeably degraded performance. In addition, the Recovery Act is expected to result in an approximate 60 percent additional increase in application volume to, putting the system at a significant risk of failure and thus potentially hampering Recovery Act implementation. After a close and diligent review of system limitations, we have determined this risk to be unacceptably high.

As a result, I am instructing the Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal agency that operates and maintains, and the General Services Administration, which serves as the facilitator of government-wide E-gov solutions, to work together to initiate immediate improvements designed to accommodate this expected volume increase.

I am further instructing Federal grant-making agencies to immediately identify alternative methods for accepting grant applications during the Recovery Act’s expected peak period to reduce demand on’s limited resources. These alternatives should focus on minimizing any disruption to the grants application processes. Federal agencies should submit recommended alternatives to their counterparts in OMB’s Resource Management Offices for review and approval by March 13, 2009.

Stay tuned, dear citizen …



  1. YAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. writedit said

    Per Nature News

    On 12 March, the DoE’s Office of Science told applicants to file all grant proposals through a portal called e-Center, rather than using as the agency had previously required. The NSF has a separate grant application system called FastLane, which will be available for all funding applications under the stimulus package as an alternative to, says agency spokesperson Dana Topousis.

    The NIH, which is part of the DHHS, announced on 10 March that $1.5 billion of the $10 billion it received in stimulus package money will be available for grants, including at least $200 million in ‘challenge grants’ to address specific problems in biomedical and behavioural research. All applications must be submitted through, according to agency spokesperson Bill Hall. “We will monitor the system and make modifications to our procedures should the need arise,” Hall told Nature. The NIH will not submit any recommended alternatives to the OMB, he said.

    … DiPietro also expressed concern that all the NIH challenge grants were due to be submitted by a single deadline: 27 April. The agency should instead stagger these applications over several deadlines to minimize the risk of system failures, she says. However, Hall says that the volume of applications for those grants is expected to be “far below” the number usually submitted on NIH deadline dates.

  3. writedit said

    Good heavens – they’re taking down for “enhancements” on April 18-19??? processed 38,646 applications in March 2009 which was a 78% increase over the 21,651 applications processed in February.

    For April 1 – 7 we processed 11,464 which is the largest weekly submission total to date for the 2007 Adobe system. April 6 was the largest one day total processed; 3,555.

    In our efforts to continue to enhance system performance we are on target with the next build which will occur April 18 – 19. The system will be unavailable during this time. We are changing the system configuration to prioritize login requests. We are also adding the Track my application feature where applicants can track their application status without login to the system. This will further reduce the number of people who login to the system.

    More information including the build communication will follow.

    Regards, PMO

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