Wash. Post: Feds To Mandate Windows for Government-wide Granting System

Update: Dave Schroeder from University of Wisconsin-Madison informs us that his university has developed a useful client for Mac users trying to navigate the system:

“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 users to access and use the PureEdge software via the remote Windows machine running Citrix server software:

http://apple.doit.wisc.edu/grants.gov/

Thanks Dave!

Originial Post:

“Widely used does not mean standard.”
–Eugene Spafford, Chair of USACM, during e-mail exchange with the author.

Today’s Washington Post has an article about the U.S. Federal Government’s move to put every single grant it offers under one roof called Grants.gov. Great idea, except for one thing — it is only compatible with Windows. Apparently this is because the managers of the program chose a vendor that only does work in Windows:

“But the promise of making Grants.gov accessible to everyone remains unfulfilled because of a decision by Grumman and HHS to give a small Canadian company called PureEdge Solutions the job of creating the electronic forms.

The PureEdge solution, it turns out, works only with the Windows operating system. And that is especially galling, several scientists said, as at least one major grant-making agency, the National Science Foundation, has for many years been using a “platform independent” system that works seamlessly with all kinds of computers.”

On the subject of NSF, all it will say is that for the “foreseeable future,” they will use both Grants.gov or the Agency’s existing system (FastLane Proposal Preparation and Submission), which isn’t platform specfic, to submit proposals to NSF. There aren’t any ironclad commitments for openness beyond that.

The article does say Grants.gov is “working” on making the system Mac compatible, but there is no mention of compatibility with other operating systems. Further, it mentions that users can try emulators or other workarounds. While either is a positive step, it still misses the mark by not designing a platform neutral system from the beginning. Also considering that our site gets hits from users using not only Windows and Mac operating systems, but also Linux and SunOS Unix, it would appear some of our blog readers would still be left in the cold.

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