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Why does the Seliger Funding Report Sometimes Lack Key Data? Examples from the Small, Rural School Achievement Program and the Portable Assistance Program

Readers occasionally ask why our e-mail newsletter lacks key data about funding, like the maximum size of a grant or the amount of money available. We always have the same answer: we present whatever information we can find from the funding source. When we write “N.A.,” it’s not because we’re trying to hide data—it’s because we don’t have it.

Take, for example, the Small, Rural School Achievement Program, which you might have seen in last week’s newsletter. The Federal Register notice offers almost no information. The synopsis is little better. I read both, trying to find answers.

I didn’t find any, but I did learn that the Small, Rural School Achievement Program is offering formula grants, so the Department of Education may simply divide up the pie on a per-capita basis, or use some similar scheme. But they don’t tell you, so that’s just a reasonable guess on my part.

Other times, we get weird data and simply report what we find. Take the “Portable Assistance Program,” which offers funds to “provide services and/or develop small business assistance products that are centered on a replicable plan of action to increase small business success and viability in communities suffering economic hardship.” Aside from that description having a lot of words without a lot of content—what does a “replicable plan of action” mean? McDonald’s has one of those too, I think, and so do many science fiction monsters—the program has $1,080,542 available to make 11 grants of at most $100,000. If you can do elementary math, you’re probably wondering why they didn’t shoot for 10 grants or try to get a larger budget allocation. I don’t know. Someone in the bowels of the Small Business Administration might, but that person isn’t me.

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