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New software eases grant applications

A new Web-based system will soon streamline the process of applying for and managing federal grants.

A program called Coeus, developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will be implemented during the next year to 18 months, said Lisa Gilroy, director of Research Development Services.

Federal agencies are leading the charge for electronic submission of applications, Gilroy noted. By the summer, every federal grant will have to be submitted electronically.

However, working with the grants.gov Web site provided by the federal agencies for such applications can be cumbersome. In some cases, Gilroy said, it took four days to send a single application through that site. Given that some grant opportunities are posted with short-term deadlines, four days can be critical.

The university centers within the State University of New York system — Binghamton, Albany, Buffalo and Stony Brook — got together to seek a solution to this problem and opted to buy into the Coeus Consortium. The four schools are paying a total of $7,500 for the program, Gilroy said. Another option could have cost $1 million per campus.

“This really was the best, most cost-effective option for us,” Gilroy said. “I think it will be a very powerful tool.”

Faculty members will be able to use Coeus beginning with the proposal development stage. Gilroy and other people in Research Development Services will be able to review the application as it’s being written.

“This is a way for us to better manage applications and for faculty to better manage them, too,” said Gilroy, who emphasized that her office still expects to have lots of personal contact with faculty members.

Coeus will also enable deans and department chairs to review proposals online, eliminating the need for people to go across campus to sign paperwork.

The program offers an automatic acknowledgement from the sponsoring agency, too, so applicants will know right away that their materials arrived.

Eventually, Coeus could expand to include human subjects review protocols and other processes related to grants. And, once it’s populated with legacy data, Coeus will become a reporting tool for deans and department chairs.

Coeus is in use at institutions such as Stanford University, Purdue University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland. To learn more about the system, visit http://coeus.mit.edu.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08