Finding Greater Opportunities among Fewer Opportunities

Earlier this month, the Office of Postsecondary Education, U.S. Department of Education, posted a notice in the Federal Register that it would be withdrawing its Notices Inviting Applications for New awards for Fiscal Year 2011 for a number of its funding programs.

Included among the programs being pulled were: Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language (UISFL) Program; International Research and Studies (IRS) Program; Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad (FRA) Fellowship Program; Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) Fellowship Program; Business and International Education (BIE) Program; American Overseas Research Centers (AORC) Program; and The Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE)–Comprehensive Program.

Collectively, the Department of Education estimated over $36 million would have been allocated to new awards under these funding programs. Due to congressional actions regarding the federal budget, funding for new awards under these programs has been canceled for FY 2011. (Funding for ongoing projects that were previously funded under the programs were not necessarily affected).

This is only one of the many signals recently that there is likely to be increased concern and oversight regarding where federal dollars are going. The GAO document, Improvements Needed in Oversight and Accountability Processes, indicates that there may be additional reporting requirements on the post-award side of the grants process.

The combination of less available funding, and more stringent requirements around reporting the usage of the funding, leads to an overall less friendly environment for grant seekers. One recommendation is that grant seekers advance their efforts to find funding from previously untouched sources. Beyond US Federal sources, there are thousands of opportunities from sponsors that provide their grants to applicants worldwide.

Over the coming months, you will see the SPIN Sponsored Programs Solution begin to provide the necessary tools to appropriately handle these kinds of needs. Currency conversion will be provided so that you can view and compare data between opportunities with different currency types, and a greater effort to identify valuable opportunities from sponsors in Africa, Asia, and Europe are being made. This mirrors the whole of the business world that, in light of the tightening budgets, is being forced to find new, more efficient solutions to problems and barriers, and identify tools that will help them meet their more demanding needs.

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