Grants.gov has moved to requiring Windows-only PureEdge software in order to apply for a grant. Worse, their response to the scientific community’s outcry on this platform-dependence is to use VirtualPC with a copy of Windows. They reason that this is acceptable because Microsoft distributes VirtualPC with Office now. And we all know, EVERYBODY has Office. We pick it from the Office Tree of Giving.
This is the age of the Web 2.0 The government, the self-same government that took Microsoft to task over lock-in, is moving from a well-liked, web-based platform (FastTrack) to some obscure piece of Windows-and-IE-only software?
What the hell is going on?
ADDENDUM 2005-11-02 @ 16:12:
Here is what I wrote to them:
I am writing to inquire as to why the web-based FastTrack software has been abandoned for the Windows-only PureEdge software. PureEdge’s assertion that VirtualPC running Windows is an adequate solution for mac users is somewhat questionable. Furthermore, users of the various BSDs, Linux distributions, OS/2, plan9, Inferno, etc are left without any access. Is there pressure on PureEdge by Grants.gov to include support for other platforms? Perhaps a plugin for the open-source Firefox browser instead of IE?
If there is in fact no current plan or desire for a more open grant application system, would you please direct me as to who might have some influence in changing this?
and here is their prompt response:
Thanks you for your recent inquiry to Grants.gov concerning the Pure Edge viewer.
Grants.gov has been working with Pure Edge to offer a viewer that is compatible with as many operating systems as possible. We feel that we are not too far from achieving that goal, and when we do, we will be sure that information will be posted on our website. In the meantime, we apologize if the viewer options we offer for your operating system are not acceptable. Our goal is to ensure the widest possible acceptance of Grants.gov and certainly not to exclude anyone from the electronic grants submission process. To that end, as a first step, we ensured that the Pure Edge viewer will work with a Windows emulator program, as described on our website.
Grants.gov employs the PureEdge Viewer 6.0 for viewing and completing application forms. The PureEdge viewer’s 508 compliance is described at http://www.pureedge.com/products/products/PureEdgeAccessibilityGuide.pdf. Grants.gov sponsored testing of the PureEdge viewer demonstrating the viewer’s compatibility with the widely used Jaws screen reader. An enhanced version of the PureEdge Viewer that will include compatibility with a broader range of screen reader products through support for industry standard interfaces for accessibility is in the process of being tested and upon successful completion of testing will be posted to the site.
Feel free to contact us should you have further inquiries.
Grants.gov, Customer Support
Thank you for your very appropriate criticism of the PureEdge Viewer requirement for grants.gov. Those of us on another platform are feeling the pain. My neighborhood Macintosh dealer strongly advises against using the Windows emulator; his suggestion was to purchase a cheap Windows PC.
Is there a member of Congress who is a Mac fan? If we can find that person, perhaps we can put the heat on grants.gov.