IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Department of Education to Revamp G5 Grants System

IBM, Red Hat, Innosoft and Amazon Web Services have partnered to modernize the U.S. Department of Education’s G5 grants management system over the next five years, making it more collaborative and user-friendly.

Since IBM bought open source software company Red Hat in 2019, the two companies have been helping the public sector meet changing standards and expectations by moving their operations to hybrid cloud environments. In 2021, for example, the Red Hat hybrid cloud platform OpenShift helped modernize the state of Washington’s Health Benefits Exchange and digital services for Michigan’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget. Now OpenShift will be the catalyst that drives the modernization of the U.S. Department of Education’s G5 grants management system.

According to a news release last week, IBM and IT services contractor Innosoft will collaborate and use Red Hat OpenShift to build the department's new G5 grants management system, which will be hosted on the cloud by Amazon Web Services. It will be a five-year modernization project, the news release said, resulting in an overhauled, cloud-based grants management system that's more efficient and effective, easier for department staff to use, includes advanced applications and collaboration tools such as AI and machine learning, and can accommodate future technical advancements and compliance requirements.

DOE's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Business Operations Drew Sanzenbacher told Government Technology that the department’s grant programs have grown over the past few years, noting the COVID-19 pandemic as a trigger for the heightened educational needs. He said that the grants community — including department staff as well as grant applicants — need a more streamlined system to get them answers to questions, access to funding and the ability to collaborate. This partnership to build a new system is answering that need.

“Understanding that technology drives so much of how we operate in our daily lives, our grants community is no exception,” Sanzenbacher told Government Technology. “The Department of Education wants to take advantage of new technology capabilities for an overall more effective and efficient grants management process.”

Sanzenbacher said that when the department began its conversations with the IBM, Red Hat, AWS and Innosoft group, the concept they agreed to was an open, plug-and-play-style “platform of platforms.” IBM Consulting, working with Innosoft, will be the tech strategist of the collaboration; AWS will be the hub of the data and processes; and Red Hat’s OpenShift will build the system, giving the department a foundation on which to build future applications across hybrid cloud environments, the release said.

Noting all the services the OpenShift platform can provide, Red Hat's VP of North American Public Sector Clara Conti said that the “microservices approach can … build a culture of sharing, where multiple applications can use the same microservices without needing to write and maintain additional code.”

“Additionally, by building the G5 system on Red Hat OpenShift, the Department of Education will have one unified method for developing and deploying applications across the hybrid cloud, enabling the department to deliver great digital experiences with flexibility and speed,” Conti told Government Technology.

When the work is wrapped up, the modernized G5 system will provide the department with a holistic approach to grants management and administration, new and emerging technology, and universal data management, Sanzenbacher said. He added that the five-year plan also includes developing a universal data catalog and governance mechanism to make data analytics API-driven so that users can grab the data they want from multiple systems without having to know which system owns it.

“The modernized solution will facilitate collaboration and technical assistance,” he said. “And with open, hybrid cloud technologies, it also means that the department will be able to continue to modernize its operations into the future while reducing complexity.”
Giovanni Albanese Jr. is a staff writer for the Center for Digital Education. He has covered business, politics, breaking news and professional soccer over his more than 15-year reporting career. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Salem State University in Massachusetts.