Education Department replacing grants management system to handle awards increase

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The Department of Education will replace its 15-year-old grants management system with a hybrid cloud-based one over the next five years to keep pace with increased awards during the pandemic.

Innosoft Corp. will lead the G5 system’s modernization using technology from Red Hat and Amazon Web Services (AWS) while relying on IBM Consulting as project architect, after being awarded a $50 million blanket purchase agreement.

G5 handles the Education Department‘s entire grant-making lifecycle — including processing payments for Federal Student Aid programs like Pell Grants and campus-based aid — but the department wants to improve user experience by making it easier to manage, monitor and review the outcomes of grants.

“As years progress grant programs have expanded, especially in light of COVID and new educational needs,” Drew Sanzenbacher, deputy assistant secretary for business operations at the Department of Education, told FedScoop. “The grants community needs the ability to answer questions, access funding and collaborate across the spectrum.”

Innosoft and IBM will consolidate and migrate grants data and management processes from G5 to a new system built on the Red Hat OpenShift platform within an AWS cloud architecture that uses open standards and open source code for scalability. OpenShift will allow the Education Department to quickly develop and deploy applications across hybrid cloud environments, minimizing its disjointed grant programs, said Clara Conti, vice president and general manager of North American public sector for Red Hat.

Human-centered design and agile software development will improve the new system’s user experience while paving the way for future upgrades and compliance requirements.

“A new user experience that incorporates automation, processing efficiency and personalization are part of the foundation of this modernization,” Sanzenbacher said. “In the performance monitoring arena we expect to facilitate a more collaborative approach that allows outcomes and results to be tied to program objectives, funding and future plans.”

Machine learning and artificial intelligence tools, based on the IBM Watson framework, will help Education Department leaders make better informed grant decisions promoting global competitiveness while ensuring more equitable access.

“AWS is honored to support the U.S. Department of Education’s mission to deliver equal access to education through modernization of their grants management system,” said Dave Levy, vice president of U.S government, nonprofit and health care businesses at AWS, in a statement.

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agile development, Amazon Web Services (AWS), artificial intelligence (AI), Cloud, Department of Education, grants management, human centered design, IBM, Innosoft Corp., machine learning, Red Hat
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