About eGrants

Minister's Award

August 2006: eGrants first client earns a Minister's achievement award βœ…
[Left] CWG Project Director Richard Nott and Senator Ian Campbell [Right] Richard Nott and Secretary David Borthwick

One of our first ventures was eGov Pty Ltd, which developed a disruptive grant management system (eGrants.com) delivered on a
software as a service (SaaS) basis.

The initial objective was to build a technology solution to help a Federal government grant program (CWG: Community Water Grants) achieve what seemed impossible. Round 1 program was oversubscribed and undermanned, and there was little in the way of systems support. As it turned out, our strategy of using the internet and automation to increase productivity and accuracy helped the program achieve what appeared at the time to be impossible: delivering the program within its program performance and schedule objectives earning a Minister's achievement award. In Round 2 the CWG team, continuing to use eGrants, earned a productivity award from the Department Secretary, We continued to increase the functionality of the eGrants system for further funding rounds.

eGov Pty Ltd (eGrants.com) is no longer owned by Bunting Pty Ltd.

Our Melbourne CBD Office

We were a small but highly productive team supported by contractors and mentors (incl Microsoft). We often worked what Elon Musk would call "hardcore": 16+hours/day, often 7 days/week - driven by a target achievement orientation. [In 2024 we still work long days].

If we weren't in Canberra we were in our Melbourne office. We also used our floor to host presentations by other startups for potential investors: the early days of techseeder.com.

The eGrants Difference

The first impact eGrants had was to eliminate paper and postal mail and automate as many processes as possible.

That impact was felt immediately by grant recipients, receiving their funding way ahead of expectations.

CWG program manager Richard Nott and senior team members with their first payment.

Our eGrants.com Product

  • eGrants provided support services on a fixed price per transaction basis (with a total expenditure cap) to Federal government grant programs with budgets totalling almost AUD 1 billion and thousands of applicants and managed grants. It was a full service, end-to-end system including online applications, automated assessment, automated contracting and funding, online progress reporting and acquittal as well as management reporting. Users had single signon management of their applications and contracts across multiple programs and multiple departments βœ…
  • As a SaaS product, eGrants could be configured and ready to launch very quickly. For the Regional and Local Government Infrastructure Program (RLCIP), we were asked "when can you go live?" - at the depth of the GFC time was of the essence. Our response was "the day after you sign the contract". eGrants went live with full production capacity the day after our milestone first million dollar contract was signed. It was the Federal Government's first Software as a Service (SaaS) contract. βœ…
  • eGrants achieved a 99.5% compliance rate and a 95% satisfied or very satisfied rating by users βœ…
  • Automation of eligibility, merit assessment and prioritisation of applications, minimising any opportunity for bias or external influence in assessment. βœ…
  • Unsuccessful applicants had access to the scoring of their applications, showing how they scored against the assessment criteria and against other applications. βœ…
  • Logging of actions through the life of a grant, from application to acquittal also increased process integrity. βœ…
  • Automation of most functions increased integrity, eliminated errors, slashed processing times and increased the productivity of grant program administration (projects per case manager) by around 10 times, with substantial staff and infrastructure cost reductions many times the cost of the eGrants service. βœ…
  • Access to applications, assessments and grants was available (where authorised by the grant program manager) to Ministerial advisers and auditors. βœ…
  • eGrants was certified compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI/DSS) and audited daily against that standard by a certified global security firm. βœ…
  • eGrants assured uptime with log shipping of data across multiple hosts with automated failover. βœ…οΈ
  • We loved helpdesk work - feedback and problem solving with users helped us identify opportunities for product improvement and future development. We also kept the help desk open for an Australia-wide day (eg we were there after midnight for late submissions in Perth - we'd tell users "if you're working, so are we!"). βœ…οΈ

Programs supported by eGrants.com

Some of the most important environmental and economic relief, recovery and stimulus programs supported by eGrants included:

  • Community Water Grants (CWG), a $260 million drought relief program - eGrants supported all 3 funding rounds of this program (Round 1: 1,750 projects, $61.5 million, Round 2 and Round 3: $200 million). In addition to the main functions of a grant management program, eGrants supported specialist assessments of projects by a panel of 50 engineers in 5 companies. It also automated corporate ABN validation, contract production, project geocoding, environmental geodata for project locations, and location-based rainfall assessments and a rainwater tank model.
  • A $336.1 million Green Vouchers for Schools program (9,612 schools), which went live the day after the user database and configuration were signed off (on schedule), but was cancelled shortly afterward as a result of a change of government in 2007.
  • The Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program (RLCIP) - eGrants supported allocated funding Round 1 and Round 2, which injected $350 million in the form of 4,658 infrastructure projects for 565 local governments and the ACT at the depth of the Global Financial Crisis.

Our design and functional objectives for eGrants were compatible with the objectives of "tech for good", providing equality of access to government support programs to all organisations and people regardless of their location. The "bare bones" UI design in eGrants was driven by our objective of loading every page in less than 5 seconds at the slowest (56 kbps) line speed available to the remotest users. Automated assessment and production of funding agreements minimised time between application and payment. Our outcomes and user satisfaction scores suggest we achieved our own "tech for good" objectives.

The RLCIP program manager advised us that the draft Australian National Audit Office performance audit [No.42 2010-11] described that program as a "model of public administration".

Despite its track record of outstanding performance, eGrants ceased operations in 2010 when it became apparent that the Federal and State governments preferred to own and operate their systems inhouse with a packaged product across government grant programs, effectively closing most opportunities for SaaS solutions for Australian government clients. We were also facing a rapid growth of grant management products from global technology companies. From start to finish, eGrants was an exhilarating experience as we learned so much and made the most of our opportunities at an exciting time in tech entrepreneurship.

eGrants provided equality of access to government grants for tens of thousands of applicants wherever they were: in major cities, or farms, or the remotest desert and island communities [CWG Round 3 funded projects].