The US government gives away more than $400 billion in grants every year, going primarily to scientists and other researchers. To simplify the process of finding and applying for these programs, the feds are developing Grants.gov, which pulls together the offerings from all departments and allows people to apply on line.

But only if you’re using Internet Explorer in Windows. Macintosh users (which includes many in the target audience) need not apply.

As a dedicated Mac user, I find that exclusion pretty stupid, especially in these days of standards-driven, platform- independent web applications.

However, as a taxpayer, I find this part of the story downright appalling.

The overall Grants.gov system, under construction by Northrop Grumman under a $22 billion federal contract, attracts more than 1 million hits every day, Havekost said. The system accepted more than 16,000 applications for about 20 agencies last year. And it took in even more than that last month alone, with 45,000 expected by the end of this year.

$22 billion to create a web site to collect applications? Only 45,000 applications per year? There are web start-ups that have put together much more complex systems using venture capital of way less than even $1 billion. Just how difficult could it be to replicate government paperwork online and put the results into a database?

grants.gov, bureaucracy, macintosh