Posts Tagged ‘grants’

The proposal process may seem a bit daunting. Proposal managers and other staff may work endless hours and coordinate across multiple departments to produce the final product. Short windows for response may bump the proposal turnaround into the turbo speed lane.

Because the hectic pace of contracting can launch fast and furious races to the finish line for top prizes, heed the familiar saying, “If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, where will you find time to do it over?”

To those who set the bar high and keep up in the race come the spoils of victory over challenges. Those who fall out of the race may become casualties left behind as cautionary tales.

Pay now, or pay later. Do your homework when it counts, and go forward now using the following tips:

  • Follow the rules. Requests for proposals or solicitations instructions to the letter. Submit questions for clarifications in timely manner. Email submission provides an instantly archived time line for reference if needed.
  • Come Correctly. Proposals that reference the correct staff, correct quantities, correct numbers, including page numbers, throughout the proposal reduce compliance issues. Mis-numbering, missing pages, and errors can make glaring distinctions, cause confusion and delays.
  • Count on accuracy. Calculations with technical documents and cost documents, including electronic versions, should be accurate. Accurate formulas, industry standard methods. Using formulas within Excel versus merely inputting figures can avoid time consuming reconfigurations, and allow faster review turnaround. The number of man hours in 1 calendar year is 1920.
  • Zip it good. Bulky email or files clog and clutter information pipes. Use ISO techniques to manage documentation. For example, include dates in naming e-files and documents themselves. Footers and headers work well. Using document edit tracking can also work well.
  • Designate 1 or 2 primary contacts during pre award stage to streamline and lower risk of lost links in communication network. Ensure “Out of Office” automatic replies are turned on, and include backup or alternate contact information.

The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) is a one-stop shop for federal grants, loans and other types of assistance. The site provides not only financial assistance information for businesses or nonprofits, but includes individuals seeking assistance as well.

The CFDA has extremely user-friendly features. Users can search using basic keywords or conduct more advanced searches. If a business is specifically seeking assistance to small businesses seeking grants, for example, “project grants”, “direct payments for specified use” and “direct payments with unrestricted use” can be selected.

The CFDA provides a glossary of industry terms and provides grant proposal writing advice. Among advice is the caveat to follow instructions. This goes without saying for any project involving the federal government. One quick way to weed down the piles of applications is to dislodge applicants who can’t follow instructions. Inability to comply with directions is a sure sign in any venture–personal or business, that if you can’t follow the rules when trying to get in the door, you might need extra hand holding throughout your stay. A waste of precious time. The government is infamous for paperwork and bureaucracy, so any business on the streamlined application bandwagon isĀ  welcomed with open arms.

The CFDA provides eligibility criteria along with links concerning grants. The grants.gov website is another grants portal. It also features basic and advanced search capabilities. Some agencies with grant announcements require submission of applications via grants.gov. Users must register, which is free.

In order to receive any federal award, whether a contract or a grant, a business must be have a Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) number. This number is a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number that links an organization to specific information. The DUNS number profiles a business, from its founding year, to its location, staff members, and financial background, including its financial health such as credit history.

To conduct business with the federal government, a business must also be registered with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) site. Lack of registration can result in disqualification for noncompliance with grant competition requirements. The CCR registration is linked to contractor payment information. Consequently, this information must be kept current during the conduct of an award. If not, it can suspend payment.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is an invaluable resource for small businesses. The SBA provides free information, guides, online training, and a network of experts and organization. The SBA also archives annual Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program information. The program objectives are to partner with small businesses around the nation to ensure the federal government remains innovative. Many federal agencies have an SBIR/STTR program. Programs can be discovered via CFDA, grants.gov or by contacting the agencies directly. The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is an invaluable SBA expert network. The Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) offers assistance to business owners and prospective business owners. A national SBDC locator link is online.