SAM & Grants.gov
It sounds like a buddy movie, and in a way it is. The System for Award Management (SAM) and grants.gov are the two main systems needed to successfully apply for federal grants and cooperative agreements. It’s essential for every agency interested in federal funding to be registered in each system before submitting an application.
That’s why we’ll walk through details of both here. If these instructions are not enough, we are also creating a step by step video tutorial on registering for SAM and grants.gov. Sign up here to be notified when it is available.
Why SAM and Grants.gov?
Like any good buddy movie, it starts with tension and potential conflict, before becoming a beautiful and useful partnership. While these system do not look very compatible or easy to use, we’ll show you how to set them up to help you easily submit federal proposals.
Remember, one thing you REALLY do not want is to be closing in on a proposal deadline without having your SAM and grants.gov registration in place. As of summer 2020, the federal government has temporarily waived the requirement (due to the COVID-19 emergency) to have an active SAM account before submitting in grants.gov, but you have to call up the federal help desk to set this up which can present its own delays and issues. Plus, you still need to set up your accounts appropriately going forward, to apply for and administer any grant funding you are awarded.
So it’s far better to set up an active SAM registration, link it to your grants.gov account and be ready to go to submit your proposals as needed. If you are planning in the future to apply for federal grants, you should do this now for your agency. And the great news is that it is really not hard.s
Unfortunately, there are a lot of businesses that try to convince you that it is fantastically hard and complicated to set up in SAM, while taking your money in the process. The Grants.gov Community Blog has a good article, Read This Before You Respond to SAM-Related Spam, that details steps these companies take to get you to pay money (we saw several charging $699 or higher) to set up or renew your SAM account- a process that is absolutely free.
The process for setting up a SAM account is relatively simple, and requires some key information. This includes:
- Your agency DUNS number, your legal business name and physical address. DUNS numbers are being phased out by the federal government over the next year, but are currently required, so you can easily get a free one from Duns & Bradstreet (D & B).
- Your Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN).
- Your bank’s routing number, your bank account number and your bank account type (such as savings or checking). This is required to set Electronic Funds Transfer for any awarded funds.
That’s the key information you need, and you will go through several screens setting up your registration. The person setting this up should be your agency’s Chief Financial Officer (or similar role) given the confidential financial information required. This person is then the Entity Administrator in SAM for your agency.
When you renew your account (which needs to happen each year), you’ll need to check to see if information in these fields requires updating. Upon submission of the renewal, you have to complete and send in a notarized letter signed by your SAM Entity Administrator.
After registering your agency in SAM, and going through the approval process (which can take a few weeks, particularly in our COVID-19 era), your SAM Registration is approved. Yay! Or if not, the administrator will tell you what you have to go in to correct before you submit again. All the more reason to give your agency plenty of time to set this up prior to any federal grant proposal deadlines.
Your Entity Administrator will get an email within 24 hours of this approval, giving you a temporary password. Your SAM Entity Administrator will use this password to go into the grants.gov website to become the EBiz Point of Contact (POC) in grants.gov. This person assigns people in your agency roles when submitting proposals. The EBiz POC is the only role in grants.gov that does not require prior creation of a personal grants.gov account as described below.
Much like a good theater production, grants.gov assigns specific roles to everyone working on your proposal in grants.gov. The EBiz POC we’ve already met. Everyone else who will be working on the grant proposal must first create a personal account in grants.gov. Once this is created, the EBiz POC and the AOR (discussed below) can then assign each person to Organizational Roles in the agency grants.gov account. As with SAM, all personal accounts and organizational roles created in grants.gov are absolutely free.
Organizational roles in grants.gov include Workplace Manager, both expanded AOR and standard AOR, and Custom Roles you set up. You can find out more about workspaces and roles in grants.gov here.
Your Executive Director or the person authorized to sign on behalf of your agency should be the expanded Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR), for example. The AOR is authorized to submit on behalf of your agency and electronically “signs” the proposal upon submission in grants.gov. The difference between an expanded AOR and a standard AOR is that the expanded AOR can submit applications and assign roles across all agency applications, while a standard AOR role can be set up to only work within certain applications.
The EBiz POC CANNOT have the same email address as the AOR, so it is a good best practice to make the EBiz POC your chief financial person, while your AOR is your agency ED or President.
And that is really it for signing up for these to critically important systems. You can do it on your own, following the instructions on each site.
However, if you want more support, Grants Republic is creating a step by step walkthrough of the process for signing up to both SAM and grants.gov. Please click the link below to purchase this video step by step course, which will be available in August 2020 for $29.99.
We hope this has been helpful for you, and we look forward to hearing from you.