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Grants Online Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Visit this site often to review our Frequently Asked Questions List. The last update was November 28, 2007. Simply click on the question which most closely matches your concern. It will take you to the desired answer. To view additional questions, click the link below the answer to navigate back to the top. To ask a question not found on this page, email: GrantsOnline.QandA@noaa.gov

Grants Online Access
How can I access Grants Online?

General Implementation and Security
Do we have to login and logout of Grants Online to do work?

I’m concerned that the proposals received by my office or awards to my organization will be able to be seen by too many people. Who can access what kind of information in the system?

How do we handle Pre-Applications?

Since we are not currently using the Proposal Review module in Grants Online, how should reviews be done?

What do I do if Grants Online fails to provide a critical business function that is done in my Program Office?


What happens when there is a policy or business process change in the PO office? To whom do we submit change requests?

Who is on the Change Control Board (CCB) and what is its role?

What type of IT support does this system have?

Is there a file size storage limit within Grants.gov and/or Grants Online?

At what juncture is the scanner used? What is it used for? What type of output is required?


How do you set up the routing for an interagency Request For Applications (RFA)?

For Federal Program Officers - Grants.gov and Receiving Proposals
What are the ways to receive proposals through the system into my NOAA Program Office?

Who inputs the data?

What do I do if I can’t read the documents submitted in the Grants.gov applications?


Is each program office responsible for informing grantees/applicants (groups, organizations and individuals) about the Grants.gov registration process?

What kind of support does Grants.gov offer?


Is there Grants.gov outreach?

For Grantees - Grants.gov, Grants Online and ASAP
As a NOAA grant recipient what actions do I peform through Grants.gov and which do I perform in Grants Online?

As a NOAA grant recipient do I also use Grants Online for payments, or do I still use ASAP?

Training Information
Will there be "refresher" training conducted?

Are there training manuals?

Is there Instructor-led training for Grantees?

What type of continual training will be offered to Regional Offices?

Grants Online Access
How do I access Grants Online?

Using Internet Explorer, enter the following URL in your address bar: https://grantsonline.rdc.noaa.gov. You must have a valid userid and password in order to access the system. NOAA employees, please contact your GMAC representative if you do not currently have a Grants Online userid. Contact the Grants Online HelpDesk if your account is locked. Grantee access is granted only after an award has been made. The Authorized Representative who signed the SF-242 cover page of the applicaton package will be notified via email when their award is ready for review and acceptance via the Grants Online system. Access instructions are given in the email notification. For locked accounts, grantee users should contact their organization's Grants Online Recipient Administrator for assistance. They may also contact the Grants Online Help Desk.

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General Implementation and Security

Do we have to login and logout of Grants Online to do work?

Yes. Grants Online has a sophisticated security scheme, which provides permissions and access based on the login ID of the user. The amount of time that a user remains logged in without taking any action will be limited to 60 minutes.
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I’m concerned that the proposals received by my office or awards to my organization will be able to be seen by too many people. Who can access what kind of information in the system?

In addition to requiring user authentication through usernames and passwords, Grants Online uses a combination of role-based and office-based access. A Program Officer will be able to view any applications that are submitted to their designated Program Office, but will not have default access to view applications from other Program Offices. There are some Program Officers who have a need to view applications in other Program Offices. Grants Online allows flexibility for internal access, e.g. the Program Office Administrator for Coastal Ocean Programs (COP) can allow a Sea Grant Program Officer to view the applications submitted to the COP office.

Grantees can only access their own organizations' awards. Authorized Representatives and Business/Financial Representatives can view all of the awards for their organization. Additionally, Grantees can set up their PIs and General Users to be able to view only the specific awards to which they will need access. [Back to Top]

How do we handle Pre-Applications?

OMB directives prohibit agency back-end systems such as Grants Online from communicating directly with applicants. That is the sole responsibility of Grants.gov. In order to get pre-applications into the system, the Program Office must either have the applicants use the SF-424 and an authorized official submit the pre-applications through Grants.gov, or must accept the pre-applications outside of Grants.gov (paper, email, etc.), and scan them into the system (if paper) to associate them with the full applications received through Grants.gov.
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Since we are not currently using the Proposal Review module in Grants Online, how should reviews be done?

There are plans for a future revision of the Review Module within Grants Online. In the meantime, reviews are being conducted outside of the system. For competitive review events, there is a workaround document available for download from the Training Page. As a reminder, reviews and proposals for each application must be attached within Grants Online. It is suggested to attach the reviews and comments to the application itself during the "Conduct Negotiations" phase of the application.
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What do I do if Grants Online fails to provide a critical business function that is done in my Program Office?

The Grants Online Program Management Office expended a great deal of time and effort before and during system development to identify the requirements and business processes that are essential for all NOAA program offices. In the event you feel a business process has been overlooked, you will be able to submit enhancement requests for review by the Change Control Board. To enter a Change Control Board request, NOAA users should contact your GMAC representative.
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What happens when there is a policy or business process change in my Program Office? To whom do we submit change requests?

See answer above. Grants Online was built to be a flexible system. The conceivable changes that are sometimes made to the announcement and review process, including requirements for new kinds of application documents, etc. can already be handled by the system. Internal routing flexibility for Request For Application (RFA) approvals and Procurement Requests has also been built into the system.

Grants Online was not built to enforce a particular way of doing business, rather as a way to enhance the way we do business. If a Program Office has a business rule requiring a function be done in a particular way, Grants Online will not enforce that business rule, nor will Grants Online prohibit that business rule from being implemented by the Program Office.

Grants Online is a NOAA-wide system. As such, it cannot be customized to provide for enforcement of specific processing that may be done differently by different Program Offices. Any changes affecting all NOAA Program Offices will be considered as enhancement requests by the Change Control Board (CCB).

Grants Online is also built to the standards imposed by both law and the DOC Interim Grants Manual. Laws change and so will the DOC manual. Grants Online will endeavor to keep up with these changes as they occur.
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Who is on the Change Control Board (CCB) and what is its role?

The Change Control Board (CCB) is comprised of the Grants Online Project Manager, Grants Online Technical Leads, two representatives from each Line Office, and two representatives from GMD. The CCB meetings are facilitated by the Grants Online Program Managment Office (PMO) are also attended by Grants Online contractors. On an as needed basis, additional users, including recipients, may be invited to particular CCB meetings to address specific concerns.

The role of the CCB is to prioritize Help Desk tickets that have been logged as enhancement System Change Requests. Tickets which have been identified as defects are not reviewed by the CCB but are prioritized by the Grants Online PMO to be addressed in the monthly releases. Defects have a higher priority and will be addressed in the monthly releases ahead of enhancement requests. "Maintenance" enhancements - those that are necessitated by internal or external policy changes, or which implement common business best practices - will be prioritized after defects.
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What type of IT support does this system have?

The Grants Online hardware is physically located at the NOAA Information Technology Center (ITC) in Largo, Maryland. The ITC also houses approximately 38 other NOAA-wide administrative and financial systems including CBS. The ITC has a generator in addition to battery backup to provide more robust failover capability in the event of a power outage. There are 6 complete Unix computer systems (10 CPUs for production processing) dedicated to Grants Online, which include redundant storage and failover capability. NOAA has a hardware/software maintenance contract with the development contractors covering a period of two years after final system delivery.

The Grants Online Help Desk is available to provide support for all Grants Online users. This dedicated Helpdesk currently operates Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm EST, with the exception of Federal Holidays. To contact the Grants Online Help Desk please call 301.444.2112 or toll free at 1.877.662.2478, Email inquiries can be sent to GrantsOnline.Helpdesk@noaa.gov.
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Is there a file size storage limit within Grants.gov and/or Grants Online
?

Grants.gov: There is no limit on file size for submission to Grants.gov. However, at times applicants submitting large file have difficulty maintaining dial-up connections. For this reason, we recommend using a zip file for applications submittal.
Grants Online: There is no file size limit for Grants Online. However, some users experience difficulties uploading large files based on their network speed. For a guidance document with regard to uploading large files into Grants Online click here.
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At what juncture is the scanner used? What is it used for? What type of output is required?

Grants Management Division (GMD)no longer accepts paper documents. Anything that would normally be sent to GMD will require scanning and insertion into the appropriate place in Grants Online for processing by GMD. So, if Program Offices continue to receive paper applications, they will need to scan the entire paper application for uploading to Grants Online plus manually data enter a few key fields. The same is true for progress reports and award action requests. Grants Online has workflow processes for maintaining internal documents like Procurement Requests, NEPA documents, PO Checklists, and other documents that are part of the grants file.
Items which are not scannable (e.g. a fish carcass in formaldehyde) will need to be maintained in the Program Office, with a reference to its location in Grants Online.

In order to get a paper application into Grants Online, you must scan the application into an appropriate set of Public Document Format (PDF) files. One file for each standard form, e.g. the SF424 and SF424A would be two files, one file for the project description, one file for the budget detail, and any additional files as appropriate. The PDF files will be bitmap files in order to maintain the legal structure of the original document. Also, in order to get a multi-page project description into a PDF document, you need scanner software that allows the scanning of multiple sheets into a single multi-page PDF file. It would be very helpful to have a scanner with a document feeder.

Because multi-page scanned PDF bitmap files will be very large in size and will be extremely difficult for reviewers with dial-up connections to retrieve, Program Officers should strongly encourage their applicants to submit electronic applications through Grants.gov. Applications submitted electronically will be stored in Grants Online in a format that can be accessed more easily than scanned paper documents.

Purchasing Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software with a scanner is not recommended. Grants Online does not have functionality to extract data from a converted character document, so there is no advantage to using OCR features.
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How do you set up the routing for an interagency Request For Applications (RFA)?

There are two ways that this can be done. First, the interagency contacts could be made users of Grants Online so that they can be included in the workflow for the routing of documents within the system. Second, the RFA creator can generate the Federal Funding Opportunity and/or Federal Register Notice documents, save them to their local system and route them outside of Grants Online.
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For Federal Program Officers - Grants.gov and Receiving Proposals
What are the ways to receive proposals through the system into my NOAA Program Office?

Grants Online is designed to automatically retrieve and distribute proposals from Grants.gov, the government-wide portal for the receipt of applications. All Program Offices within NOAA and NOAA applicants should become familiar with Grants.gov. They have excellent training on their web site. It is the responsibility of the Program Offices to strongly encourage their applicants to begin submitting through Grants.gov. Paper proposals submitted to Program Offices will require Program Office personnel to hand-key information from the proposal into Grants Online. The Program Office will also be responsible for scanning the proposals and uploading the scanned documents to Grants Online. The NOAA Print Shop on the third floor of SSMC3 is equipped to provide high-volume scanning service. The Grants Management Division (GMD) uses Grants Online for all grant processing, therefore, paper applications are no longer accepted from Program Offices. Although a smaller paper file will also be maintained, the electronic record in Grants Online, including the scanned application, will contain most of the official internal NOAA grant file for all new awards that are processed after January 2005. The ultimate goal is for new Grant files to become totally electronic.
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Who inputs the data?

Grants Online is not just a data storage system. It is an electronic grants processing and administration system. Thus, the people who interact with the system to do their jobs will enter data. These people are Request for Application (RFA) creators, Federal Program Officers, Procurement Request Authorizing Officials, Line Office Reviewers, Grants Specialists, Grants Officers, and others. Program Officers can avoid doing additional data entry by requiring applicants to submit proposals through Grants.gov. Additionally, Grantees will input data for Financial and Progress reports as well as for Award Action Requests as needed.
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What do I do if I can’t read the documents submitted in the Grants.gov applications?

Grants.gov is only able to accept PDF, Word, Excel, and text files. If applicants need to submit graphics or other types of binary files, they should imbed or convert them to an acceptable format for upload. This limitation on file types ensures that Program Officers and reviewers will be able to read any applications that are submitted.
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Is each Program Office responsible for informing grantees/applicants (groups, organizations and individuals) about the Grants.gov registration process?

Yes. The NOAA Grants Management Division (GMD) sent letters to each of the active NOAA recipients as of August 23, 2004 informing them of the need to register with Grants.gov and requesting that they prepare for submission of future NOAA applications through Grants.gov. The most recent NOAA Omnibus Federal Register Notice (FRN) states that "...you will be able to access, download and submit electronic grant applications for NOAA Programs in this announcement at http://www.grants.gov." The FRN also provides a short overview of Grants.gov and the registration process. GMD has conducted outreach activities that discuss Grants.gov and Grants Online with the recipient community since FY 2005. However, GMD and the Grants Online team cannot do this alone. There will be many in the applicant/recipient community who will not be reached by these efforts. The Program Offices are the front-line interface to applicants and recipients. It is primarily the responsibility of Program Office personnel to continue to expand outreach to this community. The message that the paper application process will soon be a thing of the past needs to be delivered.
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What kind of support does Grants.gov offer?


Grants.gov has extensive online tutorials, an excellent Users Guide, an informative FAQ, and a responsive help desk. NOAA was the first agency to receive an electronic proposal from Grants.gov and currently receives over 90% of its applications directly from Grants.gov. The feedback on Grants.gov assistance has been very positive, so we encourage you to both use these available resources as well as promote them to your applicant community.
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Is there Grants.gov outreach?

Grants.gov primarily depends on the 26 Federal agencies that receive electronic applications through Grants.gov to reach out to the community. A Grants.gov power point presentation with lots of useful information is available on the “Presentations” page of this website.
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For Grantees - Grants.gov, Grants Online and ASAP
As a NOAA grant recipient what actions do I perfom through Grants.gov and which do I perfom in Grants Online?

Grants.gov is used to find and apply for funding opportunities. The "Pure-Edge" software is only required for submitting proprosals to Grants.gov. Proposals submitted for NOAA by the posted deadline will be automatically moved from Grants.gov into NOAA's Grants Online "back-end" grants system. NOAA's internal grants processing is done in the Grants Online system. Once an award is made, recipients are given access to Grants Online to accept and manage their award, including submission of Progress and Financial reports as well as submission of any post award action requests. Grants Online is purely web-based and does not require the use of any additional plug-ins. The preferred browser for Grants Online is Internet Explorer.
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As a NOAA grant recipient do I also use Grants Online for payments, or do I still use ASAP?

Grants Online does not replace any of the fuctionality in the Treasury Department's ASAP system. You will still need to access ASAP to drawdown your grant funds. However, submission of SF-270 forms requesting non-ASAP payments can and should be made via Grants Online.

Since there is no system-to-system interface between Grants Online and ASAP, if an extension is made to a NOAA award, the Grants Online workflow will send a task to the appropriate NOAA staff to extend the award in ASAP also. The award extension in ASAP is an action that happens outside of the Grants Online system.
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Training Information

Will there be "Refresher" training conducted?

Yes, refresher training sessions for NOAA users are currently being scheduled approximately once each quarter. NOAA users should contact their GMAC representative if they wish to attend one of these classes. Additionally, periodic User Group meetings and/or Power Point presentations will provide guidance on system changes implemented in each release. Check the Advisory page within Grants Online or the "What's New" page of this website for updates on User Group meeting dates and topics. Training information will also be posted on the "Training" pages of this website.
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Are there training manuals?

User manuals and process maps are located on the "Training" pages. The user manuals and process maps will be updated as needed to stay current with system functionality. When necessary to address more immediate training needs on specific issues, Quick Reference Guides will be developed and posted on the "Training" pages with an advisory posted on Grants Online.
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Is there Instructor-led training for Grantees?

Grants Online mini trainings sessions for Grantees are held at the NOAA Grants Management conferences usually held on an annual basis. Check the "Training" pages of this website or contact your NOAA Grants Specialist for information on upcoming conferences. Additionally, some Program Offices include Grantee training sessions at their Program-specific conferences and workshops. Occasionally Program Offices will arrange for specific Grants Online training sessions to be held for their grant recipients. Grantees should contact their Federal Program Officers to inquire about any upcoming events of this nature.

The Grants Online Progam Mangement Office conducts a periodic Grantee Conference Call approximately every 5-6 weeks to provide an additional forum for Grantees to ask questions about the Grants Online system. Those conference calls are announced via email to the Authorized Representatives at each Grantee organization.
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What type of continual training will be offered to Regional Offices?

NOAA users at Regional Offices can participate remotely in the User Group meetings. Additionally Grants Online workshops will be held during the annual GMD Grants Management conferences. There are users in many Regional Offices that have received Instructor-led training and can assist other users in their offices. As such, they are also a good point of contact for local training and guidance.
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National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
U.S. Department of Commerce
Last Updated: 
October 29, 2014 11:25 AM
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