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Monday, December 20, 2010

Not All Wine and Roses for the 1st Round EDA Applications due Dec. 15th, 2010

The new application process was not what I would call a smooth transition.  While well intentioned the EDA in DC did not have all its ducks in row.  As a matter of fact I would venture to say the ducks were already down south for the winter months.

For those of you who had a perfectly wonderful experience applying through grants.gov please write me via email at askjill@essergy.net or use the comments section of the blog.  All comments positive and negative will be published.  All I ask is that any profanity be politely withheld.

My experience was nothing short of frustrating.  I was prepared to turn in my clients Public Works application with its 15 attachments, the exact prescribed maximum number allowed through grants.gov, on December 13th, minus one small item, the electronic signatures.   I was given a copy of the signature in advance just in case my clients had to be out of town or could not be reached for some unknown reason.  (Over the years I have found this to be a good practice when asking for several million dollars that can make or break your construction project) Even with all the best laid plans and Pollyanna like enthusiasm the grants.gov application would not take the electronic signatures. Still I held out hope I could prevail.  I followed the directions on the application. I consulted the online help guides.  Still no progress.  After I exhausted all the online help guides I resorted to Adobe help lines.  After all, the applications were created in Adobe forms so it stood to reason they could unravel the mystery.  Wrong! Adobe could NOT assist since they simply provided the software and had not created the forms.  Although they were kind enough to go over some issues that may be causing problems.  Alas, I was back to square one, no signatures.  Of course it was now late in the evening and I informed my clients of the signature issues.  I sent them a copy of the forms to see if perhaps they could get the signatures to work.  Still no luck.  By the afternoon of the 14th I realized we would have to go to Plan B, old fashioned ink, so much for saving a tree or a plume or even a carbon footprint!

By the early evening of the 14th I was ready to send off my masterpiece.  A fully complete ED900 plus all the required and requested back up documentation neatly assembled and organized into the new grants.gov site, but I still had one small problem, no signatures.  By this time I felt it was best to submit the hard copy in person.  For those of you thinking why didn’t I just send the package overnight door to door service? Well, since 9/11 Homeland Security requires you have a TSA approved shipping account with a major carrier for anything over 15 oz.  

As I arrived at the EDA regional office bright and early the next morning with my 7 lbs package in hand I was warmly received by the staff, though they were surprised to see me in person. My client application was time stamped and accepted well within the deadline of 5:00pm.

As I later found out my personal delivery all worked out for the best.  Evidently grants.gov became overloaded that day and had stopped accepting applications due to a technology malfunction. 
Hmmmm… I wonder if that will be considered an Act of God.  

Stay tuned for my next installment, “What exactly does the EDA mean by a full application under the new grant process?”

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