Money to Burn, And Lessons to Learn

Money to Burn, And Lessons to Learn<@VM>TechToon

Steve LeSueur

Ironic as it sounds, the federal government needs help handing out money.

Each year, federal agencies send approximately $300 billion in grants to state and local governments for programs ranging from child welfare and education to transportation and housing, according to officials in the information technology industry. Tracking this money from start to finish and making sure that the grants achieve their intended results is becoming an increasingly complex endeavor for the agencies.

The Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act of 1999 gives agencies until May 2001 to develop plans for streamlining grants procedures and cutting down on duplicative and unnecessary reporting requirements.

These requirements present a huge opportunity for companies like FreeBalance Inc., Oracle Corp. and TRW Inc., which are gearing up to provide grants management systems to the federal government. You can read about this growing market for grants management systems, estimated by a FreeBalance official to be as much as $3 billion, in the front-page story by Staff Writer Patience Wait.

And if you're wondering about how to inspire creativity among your employees, or if you want to get your own creative juices flowing, take a look at Staff Writer Gail Emery's front-page story about lessons from the sandbox. Yes, thinking "outside the box" has become a tired cliché. But some companies have learned that thinking "inside the sandbox" can stir innovation with their walls.

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