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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Civic Switchboard call for Proposals: library projects partnering with community data organizations

This is very cool! The Civic Switchboard project – an awesome project connecting libraries and local data organizations! – has just put out a Call For Proposals for Field Projects for libraries partnering (or wanting to partner) with community data organizations. They are looking for “projects that demonstrate a commitment to understanding and engaging with local ecosystems.” There are 2 funding levels: $3,000 or $9,000. Deadline for submission is November 5th, 2018.

Also check out the Civic Switchboard Guide, a living document designed to help libraries become more engaged in their local civic data ecosystems.

Civic Switchboard: Connecting Libraries and Community Information Networks is an Institute of Museum and Library Services supported effort that aims to develop the capacity of academic and public libraries in civic data ecosystems. Learn more about the project at our website.

We believe that libraries and library workers are well-suited to make important contributions around civic data, including helping people discover civic information, building data literacy and technical skills, providing technical assistance in data management and documentation, creating feedback mechanisms to data publishers, convening and hosting events, and connecting data users. However, many libraries have just started to play these roles in their local communities, and we’d like to add momentum to that process.

In 2018, the first year of our project, we hosted two workshops for library and data intermediary teams, and began to develop a guide and toolkit that libraries everywhere can use to get more involved in their local civic data ecosystems.

In 2019, Civic Switchboard will provide small awards to projects to be led by libraries in partnership with community data organizations. We’re calling these Field Projects; you can apply by following the guidelines below.

via Civic Switchboard Call for Proposals.

Grants.gov in the news again

The rise and fall (and rise again) of Grants.gov, By ELISE CASTELLI, Federal Times, March 30, 2009.

Since December, Grants.gov has seen a doubling of applications. In the second week of March, more than 8,000 applications were filed. On at least two days that week, more than 2,000 users were on the site, dangerously close to its 3,000-user limit. As the numbers swelled, performance buckled, prompting howls of anger from users.

…HHS is scrambling to give the Web site a boost over the next 100 days to accommodate the anticipated 60 percent increase in use over the next few months, Conley said. The department will add servers, bandwidth and storage to allow more people onto the system at one time.

Grants.gov slows down with (gasp!) 2500 users!

Grants.gov (“your source to FIND and APPLY for federal government grants”) announced on its blog (which is at blogger.com, not a .gov domain, by the way), that it “continues to experience system slowness due to the high volume of users. We have over 2500 users logged-on and over 1200 users conducting searches.”

Imagine! a government site with 2500 users! Imagine the site sagging under the weight of this! Imagine e-gov! Imagine the government not being prepared to deliver! Imagine the irony! ugh…

For more on this, see: Stimulus Applications Could Overwhelm Grants.gov, By Sarah Cohen, Washington Post, March 11, 2009.

To be fair, the folks at grants.gov are trying. According to what Netcraft reports, grants.gov is evidently run by a commercial outfit and has multiple servers and probably has load-balancing run, apparently by Big-IP. According to the Washington Post story, “the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the portal, recently added more storage space for the system [Huh? How about processing power!?] and is working on other modernization efforts.”

This is not the first time grants.gov has revealed bureaucratic contempt for users; see also: Should Grants.gov Be Abolished? and Grants.gov is Windows-only.

The moral, though, is that .gov needs lots of work and lots of money and lots of smart people if we are to be able to rely on having adequate access to online government information. We all want it and are told that online access is the only alternative etc. etc. But until Congress adequately funds IT, we’ll have problems like this every time people actually want to use .gov sites in even moderate numbers. Remember when Congressional web servers bogged down when lots of people wanted to read the stimulus bill and email their Representatives? (Surprise! Democracy in action, and Congress was not ready for it.) Sigh…

Grants.Gov has a blog, RSS feed

grants.gov, “a central storehouse for information on over 1,000 grant programs and provides access to approximately $500 billion in annual awards,” started a blog back in August. It is available at at the commercial, (not dot-gov) site: http://grants-gov.blogspot.com/

I found both the grants.gov site and the blog a bit confusing. It was not clear to me who the audience was. Maybe I should have spent more time evaluating it. But this site has had its problems being user friendly. See Should Grants.gov Be Abolished? and Grants.gov is Windows-only.

GSA goes to Eagle Eye for contract, grant data

FCW.com article on grants/contracts database:
No registration required.

The General Services Administration intends to issue a sole-sourcing purchase order to Eagle Eye Publishers for custom programming services as the agency works to put federal contract and grant information into an easily searchable public database.