The Nevada Grants Office has reopened bidding for a major six-figure software contract, hitting the reset button after more than two years of litigation on a project that could help the state access millions of dollars in untapped federal grants.
Last Tuesday, the office issued an official Request for Proposal (RFP) for a grant management system, which is used to link state agencies and local governments with applicable federal grants. It comes after a lawsuit filed against the state claimed bias and favoritism in the selection of a vendor to implement the software system in 2017, leading to delays and ultimately a ruling against the state by a district court judge earlier this year.
State lawmakers in 2017 and again in 2019 approved allocations of $200,000 a year to spend on a grants management software contract, amid a growing recognition that Nevada lags behind neighboring states in discretionary federal grants per capita. The state could be losing out on up to $500 million a year in federal grant revenue, according to some estimates.
Although the office awarded a similar contract to a vendor in 2017, it was sued by another company, Streamlink, which alleged that the former head of the grants office was unfairly biased against them and deliberately scored their bid lower during the competitive bidding process. The state dropped future appeals after Carson City District Court Judge James Russell ruled in favor of Streamlink in May.
Information on the new RFP on the state grant office’s website largely skips over the legal history, while requesting vendors create a grant management system that can “increase the amount of federal grant funding in Nevada, create administrative efficiency, and enable data collection and analysis.”
The office estimates that the system will be used by between 70-100 state agencies, as well as an estimated 150 “subrecipient” organizations that includes nonprofits, local and county governments and other groups. It estimates that the system will be used to manage $5.6 billion in federal grants annually, though that figure includes funds from major federal grant programs including Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
The project timeline estimates the contract to be awarded by Fall 2019, with all of 2020 dedicated to system planning and implementation and the system being fully functional by 2021.