“What if the federal government were about to give away more than $400 billion in grants, but only people whose computers ran on Microsoft software could apply? That is the predicament that many scientists, scholars and others say they are in as the government enters the final phase of its five-year effort to streamline its grant-application process,” Rick Weiss reports for The Washington Post. “The new ‘Grants.gov’ system, under development at a cost of tens of billions of dollars, aims to replace paper applications with electronic forms. It is being phased in at the National Institutes of Health, Department of Housing and Urban Development and other federal agencies. All 26 grant-giving agencies are supposed to have their application processes fully online by 2007.”
“The problem: Although many U.S. scientists and others depend on graphics-friendly Macintosh computers, the software selected by the government is not Mac-compatible. And it is expected to remain so for at least a year,” Weiss reports. “Concerns about fairness during the transition have prompted angry humor on Mac-related listservs. ‘Uh, this would be the same government that spent a lot of time and money pursuing Microsoft for its anti-competitive behavior?’ one blogger wrote. ‘And they now offer a government site that mandates monopoly?'”
Full article here.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews reader “Qka” for the heads up.]
[UPDATE: 4:06pm EST: IBM has purchased PureEdge, and now calls the product IBM Workplace Forms; IBM plans to add Mac support in the future and Grants.gov has committed to providing a cross-platform solution by November 2006. In the interim, Grants.gov, in conjunction with NIH, has created a Citrix server solution that allows Mac OS X users to complete their application packages using Mac OS X. The University of Wisconsin has created a single preconfigured package for Mac OS X users to access this solution. This is provided as a service to the community. More info and download link (2.7MB .dmg) here.]
It’s also the same government that has accessibility laws on the books and is not supposed to exclude millions of people from such application processes. This whole mess is typical, of course. Weiss reports that the reason it’s all happening is because of “a small Canadian company called PureEdge Solutions [that was given] the job of creating the electronic forms. The PureEdge solution, it turns out, works only with the Windows operating system. And that is especially galling, several scientists said, as at least one major grant-making agency, the National Science Foundation, has for many years been using a ‘platform-independent’ system that works seamlessly with all kinds of computers.”
Why does the U.S. government feel it’s okay to ghettoize millions of Mac users? Do you feel it’s okay?
Judging from the number of emails we have received already alerting us to this story and based on previous experiences, we can all definitely make an impact here (MacDailyNews was visited by 2.7 million unique visitors in January).
The most important action that you can take, which could actually result in some positive result, as your vote is the key to their having the job: U.S. House of Representatives contact information: http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW.shtml
Also contact: (1-800-518-4726)
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