While researching this week’s e-mail Grant Alert newsletter, I needed to find out more about the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) FY 2011 Recovery Implementation Fund. I searched for it on Grants.gov, which kept hanging instead of returning information.
But there’s a way around this: you can restrict Google searches to a single domain. If you want to search for a term, just type in the search term followed by site:http://grants.gov, or whatever site you need. So I tried “Recovery Implementation Fund site:grants.gov,” which immediately found the funding announcement.
If whoever is running Grants.gov had half a brain, they’d use a Google custom search (or one from Bing, Yahoo, or the other major search engine) instead of whatever lousy in-house search tool they’re using. But this presupposes that the brain trust at Grants.gov would care. They don’t because they publish RFPs but don’t respond to RFPs, so why would they care about those of us who are looking for RFPs? Customer service doesn’t matter if customers don’t matter.
The same thing happened with the the Capital Fund Education and Training Community Facilities Program, and Google again came to the rescue. If you’re struggling with a Grants.gov search—or a search of any janky site—use this technique to get around it. It’s also helpful at local or state government sites that contain useful data that you can’t easily otherwise find; Google is often smarter than the designers of such government websites.