Life Without Earmarks – Where Can I Go to Get My Funding?

Posted on February 8, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

President Obama sends his budget blueprint for fiscal 2012 to Congress this month and the administration has made clear it will be a painful year for many sectors of the economy. At the same time, Congress has been squawking about the budget deficit like never before, threatening its own austerity plan to freeze spending and eliminate earmarks.

So what’s a federal funding-seeker to do? While grants historically have been a target of budget cutters when fiscal austerity is sought in Washington, the fact is that cuts are rarely absolute and grant programs that are eliminated are often replaced with something else.

Which makes it all the more important that funding-seekers know their way around Washington. In an era of heightened competition for federal dollars, tracking the shifting federal budget terrain is key to finding money others may overlook.

One little-known resource is called the Federal Assistance Award Data System, or FAADS, which can be accessed to find out how the federal government is distributing its grant money. If you’re looking for a grant to, say, start a new business, a good place to start is to search the FAADS to see if the federal government is investing in your kind of venture.

The FAADS produces a file of standardized data records on all types of financial assistance awards made by federal agencies to all types of recipients at the end of each quarter of the federal fiscal year.

The records are a gold mine of data for grant seekers, identifying grants by the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) program code number and name, the type and amount of financial assistance, the type and location of the recipient and the geographic location of the enterprise.

So, if you were looking for a grant to develop energy conservation programs, the FAADS can show you who got grants for similar projects, how much they got, what they did with it and where. Valuable stuff.

Another great resource,, is a federal Web site that serves as a central storehouse for information on over 1,000 grant programs and provides access to approximately $500 billion in annual awards.

So, again, let’s say you’re looking for energy conservation funds. Simply type “energy conservation” into the search box on Grants.Gov, and you’ll learn, for example, about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Assistance to High Energy Cost Rural Communities grants, a $15.5 million program to improve energy generation, transmission, and distribution facilities serving rural communities where home energy costs are highest.

The Grants.Gov files contain information on eligibility, application dates, detailed synopses of programs’ goals, links to full grant announcements and instructions on how to apply.

As you can see, while the competition has intensified for a shrinking pool of federal grants, there’s a lot you can do to keep yourself in the game.

Need some help? Contact us and we’ll be happy to share our expertise.

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