Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Unraveling the Mysteries of Grant RFPs

The WriterImage via WikipediaJake Seliger has a guest post on his blog -- really a rant -- about how funders put RFPs together by committee. I thought I'd rant a bit right along side him.

Today I'm finishing up a proposal in response to a government agency-issued RFP and we still don't know whether we should be submitting a one year or two year budget. The Q&A's were posted the Thursday before the Monday-due-date -- 15 days later than their scheduled date for posting answers. They extended the deadline by four days and gave ambiguous answers to the questions.

Two of us combed this RFP to pull out what the agency expects and came up with different lists. The RFP has a section called "Requirements," another called "Expectations," another called"Instructions," and yet another called "How to..." Each adds a bit more or defines things a bit differently.

Jake says, and I couldn't agree more,
This death-by-committee effect isn’t unique to grant writing, but the combination of fear, pompousness, uncertainty, certitude and the like seems to lead to the production of especially unpalatable RFPs, and the nature of bureaucracies make potential reforms difficult to implement. In addition, RFP writers seldom have to respond to the RFPs they produce, or any other RFPs for that matter, and thus don’t understand the kinds of problems we describe.
We do the best we can. When in doubt, I choose what will make my proposal clear and readable. Read Jake's post here.
Inside the Sausage Factory and how the RFP Process leads to Confused Grant Writers: "Inside the Sausage Factory and how the RFP Process leads to Confused Grant Writers"
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