Mac users now able to file gov't grant applications

Last year it came to light that the Grants.gov, the new online grant application system developed by the federal government, was not Mac-compatible. Now it is, thanks to the release of IBM’s PureEdge Viewer for Macintosh.

Grants.gov enables applicants to use a standardized electronic form to start the review process for most grants. It was developed by Northrop Grumman as part of a $22 billion dollar contract, and attracts more than one million hits per day, according to a report by The Washington Post.

Overseen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Grants.gov enables organizations to apply electronically for more than $400 billion in federal grants. The system was developed to streamline federal grant applications, replacing paper applications with electronic ones. More than two dozen federal agencies that give grants are ultimately supposed to have application processes fully online sometime this year.

But up until now, Mac users have largely been excluded from the process — including government scientists and researchers who used a Mac. Some organizations developed Mac-compatible workarounds in the interim, but this is the first time a Mac-compatible software application has been available directly for download from the Grants.gov Web site.

Up to now, Grants.gov’s official take on the issue was to make Mac users rely on PC emulation products, or, more recently, virtualization software or Boot Camp and Windows running on Intel Macs. But some Mac users have been reluctant to do that, since it exposes their systems to Windows security risks or just seems to be a lot of hoops to jump through to electronically access a federal computer system.

IBM — which bought the developer of PureEdge in 2005 — has provided a “Special Edition Mac Viewer” for PowerPC and Intel-based Macs, according to information on the Grants.gov Web site, which describes the Mac application as “early release” software. Several caveats are provided, including the application’s penchant for occasional crashes and subsequent loss of unsaved data; incompatibility with systems prior to Mac OS X v10.4.6, no current support for screen readers used by visually impaired users; and a lack of tolerance for being moved elsewhere than your home directory.

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