OMB Director Wants No Delays in Recovery Act Dollars


March 11, 2009
Contact: OMB Communications, 202-395-7254

OMB Director Wants No Delays in Recovery Act Dollars
Orszag Presses Technology Upgrades to Handle Grant Demand

Washington, DC — To make sure that Recovery Act funds are not delayed because of inadequate computer systems, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is pressing ahead with immediate upgrades to handle the expected grant application crush.

"The Recovery Act is a critical part of the effort to jumpstart economic activity.  We want to make sure that the systems are in place to handle what everyone expects will be an unprecedented number of grant applications.  We also must continue uninterrupted the Recovery Act’s unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability," OMB Director Peter Orszag explained.  "Recovery Act funds must not be stuck in a bottleneck because of inadequate systems or overwhelmed network servers."

To that end, Orszag has directed federal departments and agencies to immediately review their grant systems and make improvements to handle what is anticipated to be a 60 percent increase in application volume between April and August.  The deadline for departments and agencies to analyze risks and offer solutions is March 13.

The central portal for people to find and apply for competitive grants – – already is experiencing a significant increase in volume.  When combined with the expected increase in applications for Recovery Act funding, there is a "significant risk of failure," according to Orszag’s directive to federal departments.

"After a close and diligent review of system limitations, we have determined this risk to be unacceptably high and, as a result, I am instructing the Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal agency that operates and maintains, and the General Services Administration, which serves as the facilitator of government-wide E-gov solutions, to work together to initiate immediate improvements designed to accommodate this expected volume increase.  I am further instructing Federal grant-making agencies to immediately identify alternative methods for accepting grant applications during the Recovery Act’s expected peak period to reduce demand on’s limited resources.  These alternatives should focus on minimizing any disruption to the grants application processes," Orszag wrote.

To stem any potential risk with, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is adding significant storage capacity and making other modernization enhancements.  HHS manages, a central storehouse for more than 1,000 grant programs.

To view Director Orzag’s memorandum on Recovery Act implementation, please see M-09-14.