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3/12/2009
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Feds Add Servers To Handle Stimulus Funds

Government leaders predict a 60% increase in grant applications between April and August.

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) this week said it's upgrading its computer systems immediately to handle a "crush" of applications for funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Also known as the stimulus bill, the Recovery Act was signed into law last month by President Obama. The act allocates $787 billion to offset the country's current financial crisis with job-creation programs and spending for projects like digitizing health care records, building out the country's high-speed Internet infrastructure, and investing in green energy technology.

"The Recovery Act is a critical part of the effort to jump-start economic activity," OMB Director Peter Orszag said Wednesday. "We want to make sure that the systems are in place to handle what everyone expects will be an unprecedented number of grant applications. We also must continue uninterrupted the Recovery Act's unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability. Recovery Act funds must not be stuck in a bottleneck because of inadequate systems or overwhelmed network servers."

Government leaders predict a 60% increase in grant applications between April and August. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is adding significant storage capacity and making other modernization enhancements to manage Grants.gov, a central storehouse and portal for more than 1,000 grant programs. Orszag has directed federal departments and agencies to review their grant systems, analyze risks, and offer solutions by March 13.

Orszag said in a written directive (PDF) that the risk of failure because of system limitations is "unacceptably high." He instructed HHS and the General Services Administration, which facilitates government-wide e-gov solutions, to cooperate on immediate improvements for handling the increase in applications. Orszag also wants other federal grant-making agencies to immediately identify alternative methods for accepting grant applications for recovery funds.

Orszag said that the "alternatives should focus on minimizing any disruption to the grants application processes."


InformationWeek will highlight innovative government IT organizations in an upcoming issue. Nominate your agency by submitting an essay on your most innovative IT initiative completed in the last year. Find out more, and nominate your organization by May 1.

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