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What the CFDA Is Going on Here?

December 10, 2019

The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) is a compendium containing all the domestic assistance grant programs available to government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and other entities eligible for federal assistance. Recently, the federal government completely remodeled, renamed, and moved the CFDA system from CFDA.gov to beta.SAM.gov—a move that makes sense, as the System for Award Management (SAM) is the financial distribution system for domestic assistance programs. The name change from the well-used CFDA acronym to the title of “Assistance Listings” may take a little while to take hold with users, but the online search system at beta.SAM.gov is doing its part to make it easier for anyone to locate information on available grant programs.

As the description for Assistance Listings states, “The federal government . . . supports a broad range of programs—such as education, health care, research, infrastructure, economic development and other programs—through grants, loans, scholarships, insurance, and other types of financial assistance.” But searching through the numerous agencies of the federal government to find funds for education, health care, research, infrastructure, and economic development has historically been a daunting task. However, the search feature found at beta.SAM.gov is easy, user friendly, and intuitive. By selecting “Assistance Listings” as the domain in the search dropdown menu at the top of the homepage and entering in a keyword, you’ll find a government-wide catalog of assistance and support programs at your fingertips. You can narrow or target your search by using a series of filters such as status (open or closed), applicant type,  beneficiaries, and assistance types (formula grants, project grants, guaranteed loans, etc.), from the left side of the page for easy navigation.

The search feature is especially useful because it does not limit you to only one entry for each filter, and several options are available to describe the beneficiaries, applicants, and types of assistance you are looking for. Once you execute a search, each Assistance Listing is presented with valuable information to the right of the title, such as whether it has been previously funded, when it was last updated, the type(s) of assistance it qualifies as, and the five-digit CFDA number. Clicking on the title of the listing will take you to a summary page that provides an overview, authorizations, financial information, criteria for applying, details on applying, compliance requirements, and contact info. The financial information is especially robust, featuring the range and average values of assistance and the date range for approvals. The summary page also includes a historical timeline that shows when the Assistance Listing was first published and all the major milestones that the listing has experienced.

The value of the new Assistance Listings search feature is that detailed information is now in a single place, making it much easier and faster for those of us who need this information to find it quickly. No longer will grant seekers need to crunch the numbers to define the potential range or average value of awards (a key indicator to understand the level of effort an organization can expect to put forth and the realistic award value they will likely receive). Moreover, most entries already have examples of funded projects so grant seekers will no longer spend hours hunting through USAspending.gov for project examples. In addition to valuable information on the opportunity, hyperlinks to apply for the assistance programs and other application information is made readily available.

Hats off to beta.SAM.gov for the improvements this government make-over has made to the CFDA system. Grant seekers in the nonprofit community and government agencies across all areas of work and program support, will surely benefit from exploring the improved search feature and new line up of information found at beta.SAM.gov in Assistance Listings.

Contact: Deanna Aquiar, Resource Development Officer deanna@thegrantplantnm.com

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