Nonprofit Newswire | Glitch Reveals Winning Applicants of ‘i3’ Grants

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August 4, 2010; Source: Education Week | Irony of ironies, it takes a computer glitch to achieve transparency for one of the new programs eagerly sought by the nonprofit sector. At the Department of Education, the 49 winners of the Investing in Innovation or i3 grants—and the 1,647 other applicants—were announced a day earlier than intended, in part because someone at DOE mistakenly released and published the rating score sheets of the applicants on the DOE website.

NPQ has been asking the Corporation for National and Community Service for the names of the groups (and their partners) that applied for a Social Innovation Fund grantmaker intermediary designation, the names of the grant reviewers, and the reviewers’ scores. So far we’ve been unsuccessful.

We heard from others that although the Department of Education has published summaries of all of the applicants for the Promise Neighborhoods program, unlike CNCS’s provision of information on SIF, DOE has not allowed for much input into the design of the PN application process, this time in contrast to SIF’s more open RFP-generation approach.

The Administration, committed to a new level of open government, hasn’t been quite so steadfast in matching actions to its open government rhetoric in the examples of SIF and PN. But DOE unwittingly demonstrated that a well-timed computer malfunction can serve the interests of open government and public disclosure. May some other federal agencies that are currently exhibiting a closed door to open government suffer similar computer glitches.—Rick Cohen