Each day, countless hours are spent by both staff members on the Hill and staff members in grant making components of federal agencies writing and responding to congressional letters of support for potential grantees. These letters are not unique letters of support, but form letters that only vary by stated name of organization and type of grant being applied for in the letter. Once these form letters are drafted by congressional officers and sent to the agencies, they are entered in to the Executive Secretariat process. After much data entry and electronic routing, they are submitted to specific grant making components for response. These responses are also form letters, only varying on the same points as listed above. The responses must be signed and submitted to Legislative Affairs for approval. They then have to be scanned and resubmitted to Exec Sec, who then goes through its own approval process before sending them back to the Congressional office. In a given grant making cycle, one Congressman may send 25 letters, all with nearly the exact same language and receive 25 form letter responses. I believe these congressional letters of support are not just a waste of government employee time and resources (I often spend 8 hours a week on letters of Support), but on the precious time and resources of our often underfunded potential grantees. These groups are individuals in the field that are already working too hard for too little. To put them through the additional pressure of the allusion that a congressional letter of support may help their chances of receiving a grant, only to have the reality be that two form letters are exchanged and countless hours of time is wasted, is unfair to all parties involved. Instead, we should have an open dialogue with congressional offices, alerting them that congressional letters of support will no longer be included in grant making applications, and applications will only be judged on their stand-alone merit.
Idea No. 16599