The inimitable Jason Miller at Washington Technology reports that:
The policy guidance [issued by OMB as passback language to agencies alongside the FY09 budget request also addressed the Grants Management Line of Business. Agencies were to have chosen one of the three grants consortia providers — the Education Department, the Health and Human Services Department’s Administration for Children and Families or the National Science Foundation — or submit an appeal to OMB.
As of Dec. 31, nine agencies had signed an agreement to work with a consortia member. The Grants Management LOB program office also is conducting an analysis of appeals submitted by remaining agencies and is working with those agencies to align them with the program’s goals, said Karen Evans, OMB’s administrator for e‑government and IT, in her Jan. 31 letter about the e‑government initiative under the President’s Management Agenda.
You can find all of the e‑gov updates under the President’s Management Agenda.
So nine agencies have signed an agreement with a GMLOB provider. From what I hear, HHS/ACF and Education have been getting some traction; I’m not sure about NSF at this point, though they were already collaborating with USDA CSREES.
What I find curious about this is that nine is a smaller number than I was expecting. Remember, there are 23 non-GMLOB-provider grant-making departments, and agencies (the component parts of departments) could choose to create their own agreements with providers, à la USDA CSREES versus the rest of USDA. This means that OMB could have received potentially hundreds of agreements or appeals. So why only nine?
Have departments decided to submit as a unit, rather than allow individual agencies to decide their own course? That certainly makes sense, and is preferable if departments can effectively align their agencies on a particular vision. But that’s a big “if”. CSREES, for example, has a very different business compared to the Forest Service or the Foreign Agriculture Service at USDA. The other main possibility is that most departments have submitted appeals to OMB, which makes sense because there is common recognition that the current menu of providers doesn’t cover the whole grants management landscape — not by quite some way.
I’m sure more details about who signed with whom and which departments submitted appeals will be forthcoming in the next few weeks. For customer confidentiality and commercial propriety, I may not be able to write about them here, however. So keep your eyes peeled on OMB passback language and the sites I link to above, and other announcements.