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United States Department of Agriculture

Financial Shared Services

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Introduction

These FAQs cover all manner of topics related to preparing your organization and staff for using ezFedGrants, including organization registration; individual accounts, profiles, and roles; submitting and reviewing access requests; and managing user roles and access for members of your organization.

Access Overview

Where is the ezFedGrants External Portal?

The External Portal is available through the Launch ezFedGrants button on the USDA Financial Shared Services ezFedGrants web site.

How do I access the ezFedGrants External Portal?

Refer to the following documents for requirements and instructions on obtaining access to the ezFedGrants External Portal:

I tried to log-in to ezFedGrants, but I got this error message: “Your eAuth login has been accepted, but there is an issue with your access to the application you are trying to reach.”

This error usually occurs if your eAuthentication Account is only Level 1. A Level 2 account is necessary to use the ezFedGrants System. Please refer to the eAuthentication Level 2 Account Creation Job Aid to ensure you have fully upgraded your account to Level 2. If this does not resolve the error, please contact the eAuthentication Help Desk (filter by “OCIO”).

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eAuthentication

Why do I need an eAuthentication Level 2 Account?

An eAuthentication Level 2 Account serves as a cybersecurity measure due to ezFedGrants System interaction with USDA financial systems. You will use your eAuthentication Level 2 Account username and password to sign into the ezFedGrants External Portal.

How do I get an eAuthentication Level 2 Account?

Please refer the eAuthentication Level 2 Account Creation Job Aid for guidance on creating your account and gaining Level 2 access.

I don’t live in the United States, can I still get an eAuthentication Level 2 Account?

If you have a US Social Security Number (SSN) and sufficient background/identity information, you can complete the online Digital Identity Verification (DIV). If you are not eligible for the DIV, you must verify your identity by visiting an Local Registration Authority (LRA).

What if I already have a Level 1 Account?

You are able to upgrade your account to Level 2. Please log into your eAuthentication Account to do this.

How can I check if I already have a Level 2 Account?

You can check if your eAuthentication Account is already Level 2 by attempting to log-in to the ezFedGrants External Portal. If you have a Level 2 Account, you will see the green and white ezFedGrants External Portal Home screen. If you do not have a Level 2 Account, you will see an error message stating something similar to "There is a problem with the application you are attempting to access".

Why do I need to verify my identity?

You must verify your identity in order to fully activate your eAuthentication Level 2 Account. Identity verification serves to reduce the chance of fraud within USDA financial systems (including ezFedGrants).

What is Digital Identity Verification?

The Digital Identity Verification allows you to certify your identity online by answering a series of questions about yourself (your identity and background).

Does the Digital Identity Verification run a credit check?

No. The Digital Identity Verification service is provided by Experian, a company that is known as a provider of credit scores and credit reports. Information stored in Experian databases (typically credit-related information) is temporarily used to generate the Digital Identity Verification questionnaire. It does not run a credit check, appear on your credit report, or affect your credit score.

Why am I not eligible for the online Digital Identity Verification?

Digital Identity Verification is based on US-based background and identity information stored in Experian databases and requires a US Social Security Number (SSN). If you do not have a US SSN or sufficient US-based background or identity information, you will not be able to verify your identity online. You will need to verify your identity in person by visiting an Local Registration Authority (LRA).

How many chances do I have to pass the Digital Identity Verification questionnaire?

You will only have two attempts at the questionnaire. The attempts are linked to your eAuthentication Account, not your Social Security Number (SSN). Please take your time when typing your SSN to initiate the questionnaire, because the questions are generated based on whatever SSN you provide. Therefore, providing an incorrect SSN will waste one of your attempts.

What if I fail the questionnaire?

If you are unable to provide sufficient correct responses to the questionnaire, you will be required to verify your identity in person by visiting a Local Registration Authority (LRA).

There is no Local Registration Authority (LRA) near me.

Please attempt the online Digital Identity Verification (DIV) if there is no Local Registration Authority (LRA) within a reasonable distance of your location. If you are not able to complete the DIV, please contact a USDA representative.

How often do I have to change my password?

Typically, you will be required to change your password every 90 days.

I have an eAuthentication Level 2 Account, but I am not able to log-in to the ezFedGrants External Portal.

If you encounter an error message on the eAuthentication page when attempting to log-in to the ezFedGrants External Portal, please contact the eAuthentication Help Desk by selecting the "Contact Us" link at the top of the eAuthentication page.

What if my account is locked?

If you fail to correctly answer the security questions when resetting your password, your eAuthentication Account will be permanently locked. Because your ezFedGrants access is tied to the locked eAuthentication account, you may lose some or all of the work items assigned to that account. Please refer to the Locked eAuthentication Account Quick Reference document for more information and instructions for correctly re-accessing ezFedGrants when your account has been locked.

Is my eAuthentication Account deactivated if my ezFedGrants access is deactivated?

No. When your ezFedGrants External Portal access is deactivated, your eAuthentication account remains valid. Logging in to ezFedGrants External Portal after your access has been deactivated will only allow you to submit an access request. All other functionalities will be removed.

Do I need to update my eAuthentication profile when I change organizations?

Some information from your eAuthentication profile is tied to the ezFedGrants External Portal. Please ensure your eAuthentication information is up to date.

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Roles

What roles are available in the ezFedGrants External Portal?

The three primary roles are: Grants Administrative Officer (GAO), Grants Processor (GP), and Signatory Official (SO). Users with a primary role can temporarily be assigned to the secondary role of Certifying Official. Definitions and information about the ezFedGrants External Portal user roles may be found in the ezFedGrants External Portal User Roles Definitions document.

Which primary user role is right for me?

Coordinate with your organization and USDA agency points of contact to determine which ezFedGrants user role best aligns with your grants-related occupational responsibilities.

Can I have more than one role?

Each user can only have one primary role in the ezFedGrants External Portal, but each organization can have multiple users with the same primary role. Primary roles are Grants Administrative Officer (GAO), Grants Processor (GP), and Signatory Official (SO). However, there are two types of secondary (add-on) roles in the ezFedGrants External Portal:

  1. If you elect to participate in Application Review Panels, you will have the Reviewer add-on role. You can opt-in to panel review activities by selecting the appropriate check box on your ezFedGrants user profile. Please refer to the User Profile Management Job Aid for more information.
  2. You may be designated as a Certifying Official for specific claims or reports. This role can be assigned to any user and only applies to one specific claim or report.

Please refer to the ezFedGrants External User Roles Definitions document for more information on the various roles in the ezFedGrants External Portal.

Can my organization have multiple GAOs, GPs, or SOs?

Yes. Each individual user can only have one primary role (GAO, GP, or SO), but each organization can have multiple users with the same role (ex. Three GAOs, three GPs, and two SOs).

Please refer to the ezFedGrants External User Roles Definitions document for more information on the various roles in the ezFedGrants External Portal.

Can I be the Grants Administrative Officer (GAO) for more than one organization ID (DUNS/CAGE combination) in the ezFedGrants System?

Each organization ID is has a unique vendor (business partner) record in the ezFedGrants System, even if these IDs belong to the same parent organization. As an individual, you can be listed as a contact for each vendor record in the ezFedGrants internal system, however, your ezFedGrants External Portal User Profile can only be linked to one vendor record.

This linking means you can only complete grants-related procedures relevant to the organization ID you provided on your access request.

A future system update is planned that will allow individual users to be associated with multiple organizational IDs in the External Portal. For the interim, other individuals must be assigned to the GAO roles for your other organization IDs.

How do I change roles?

A GAO from your organization can change your user role at any time through the Manage Permissions screen. However, all work items and role-related connections to specific applications, agreements, claims, reports, etc. will be severed when your role is changed. For example, if you are a Grants Processor (GP) and create an application, but later your role changes to Signatory Official (SO), you will no longer have the ability to modify the application you created as a GP, because the SO role does not have permission to create or edit applications.

If you are a GAO, another GAO must change your role, because GAOs cannot change their own role.

Are roles assigned by organization or by agreement?

ezFedGrants External Portal roles are assigned at the organization level. You cannot be assigned as a Grants Processor (GP) for one agreement and a Signatory Official (SO) for another. At any one time you are either a GP or an SO or a GAO for all applications, agreements, claims, reports, etc. tied to the organization you selected when submitting your access request.

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Organizations

What is the minimum number of users/roles required for an organization to use the ezFedGrants External Portal?

Every organization needs at least two users to fully use the ezFedGrants External Portal. To complete all tasks in the ezFedGrants External Portal, you must have at least one user with the Grants Administrative Officer (GAO) role and at least one user with the Signatory Official (SO) role. If you do not have a user with the SO role, your organization will not be able to submit applications or sign agreement documents through the ezFedGrants External Portal. You will need to complete these actions offline (i.e. via email).

Do not temporarily change users’ roles to meet the SO requirement. When a user’s role is changed from either GAO or Grants Processor (GP) to SO (and vice versa), they will lose any work items assigned to their former role, and issues will arise with future role-related responsibilities. For example, once an SO signs an application, they will also need to sign the resulting award agreement document and any future amendment documents. Changing roles will break the link between the SO and the application/agreement.

If your organization has multiple registrations (i.e. multiple DUNS numbers) you must have two unique user for each registration you would like to use the ezFedGrants External Portal.

What is a DUNS number?

A DUNS number is a unique, non-indicative 9-digit identifier that verifies the existence of a business entity. DUNS numbers serve as identifiers for organizations in the ezFedGrants System. DUNS numbers are obtained during registration at SAM.gov. Some organizations may have more than one DUNS number.

DUNS registration is provided by Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) Inc. During DUNS registration, D&B may collect non-personally identifying information about your organization for the purposes of targeted advertising. Review D&B’s privacy and data policy, including opt-out options.

What is the CRM Organization ID?

The CRM Organization ID is the same as your organization’s USDA Financial Management System (FMMI) vendor code. You can obtain this information by contacting USDA agency representative.

How do I register my organization?

Please visit SAM.gov to register your organization and obtain a DUNS number. Please check that your organization has not already been registered before beginning the registration process.

I was contacted by a third party regarding fees associated with my organization’s SAM.gov registration or registration maintenance. Is this legitimate?

It is free to register on SAM.gov, and it is free to maintain this registration. Engaging third party services is entirely at the discretion of each individual organization.

My organization has multiple registrations (DUNS numbers, vendor records, etc.)

Organizations with multiple registrations exist as separate vendor records in the ezFedGrants System, because each registration has separate tax, contact, banking, and vendor information, even though they are all under the same parent organization (for example, separate collegiums within a single university). You can be listed as a contact for each vendor record in the ezFedGrants internal system, but your ezFedGrants External Portal User Profile can only be linked to one vendor record. You will only be able to complete grants-related activities for the organization ID you indicate on your access request.

If you have the GAO role, you can only review access requests for the same organization ID as yourself.

My organization shares a DUNS with a related, but different, organization. How do we differentiate between the two organizations when applying for a grant?

Your organization may have a unique CRM Organization ID. Please contact a USDA agency representative to confirm your organization’s CRM Organization ID. You can use the CRM Organization ID to locate your organization when submitting an access request.

If your organization does not have a unique CRM Organization ID or vendor record, we strongly recommend obtaining some kind of unique ID (DUNS/CAGE, CRM Organization ID, etc.) for your organization.

How do I change organizations?

To change organizations in ezFedGrants, you must contact the GAO of your current organization to deactivate your ezFedGrants access. Once your access is deactivated, you must submit a new access request for the new organization. However, please complete all pending actionable items before your access is deactivated, because any actionable items left unfinished will be lost unless other users have access to those actionable items.

If you are a GAO, another GAO must deactivate your access, because GAOs cannot deactivate their own access.

If you are the only user for an organization, you must contact the ezFedGrants Help Desk to deactivate your access.

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Submitting an Access Request

Why do I need to have an eAuthentication Account and submit an access request?

eAuthentication is used to log-in to the ezFedGrants External Portal, but you must submit an access request in order to link your eAuthentication profile to a specific organization in the ezFedGrants System. This allows you to submit applications, claims, reports, and complete other grants-related activities in the ezFedGrants System as a representative of your organization.

Where do I submit an access request?

Access requests are submitted through the ezFedGrants External Portal. Select the Launch ezFedGrants button on the USDA Financial Shared Services ezFedGrants web site, log in to the ezFedGrants External Portal with your eAuthentication user name and password, and select the Request Access link.

I do not see the Request Access link.

Some computer displays may collapse the left-side navigational menu. Select the icon in the upper-left corner to expand the navigational menu.

If your navigational menu does not include the Request Access link, but includes other options such as My Agreements, you already have access to the ezFedGrants External Portal. If you need to switch organizations, a user with the Grants Administrative Officer (GAO) role for your organization must deactivate your access so that you can submit a new access request.

How do I submit an access request?

Instructions are provided on the ezFedGrants External Portal Access Request Submission Job Aid.

Can I save my access request and complete it later?

Access requests cannot be saved. You must complete all three sections and submit the access request in one session.

Which role should I select?

Please refer to the Roles FAQ section for more information on roles in the ezFedGrants External Portal.

Why do I have to specify an Agency when I select the Grants Administrative Officer (GAO) role on the Access Request?

Once you select the GAO role from the role selection dropdown menu, an additional menu for agency selection will appear. If you are the first ezFedGrants user for your organization, your access request will be reviewed by the selected agency. If your organization already has a GAO, this field will have no impact.

What if I select the wrong role on my Access Request?

Whomever reviews your access request will have the opportunity to change the role assigned to you when approving your request.

If your request is approved with the incorrect role, your role can be modified by any user with the Grants Administrative Officer (GAO) role in your organization. If you have the GAO role, another GAO must modify your role, because GAOs cannot change their own role.

How do I know if I have selected the correct organization for my access request?

When you select an organization from the search results, the Organization Details fields will populate based on your selection. Review the details in these fields, particularly the DUNS number, to ensure they are correct.

If you have selected the wrong organization, select the Find Organization button to repeat the organization search.

If you do not know your organization’s details, please contact your organization’s Grants Administrative Officer (GAO) or a USDA agency representative to contact to confirm the correct DUNS number/unique identifiers for your access request.

I cannot find my organization in ezFedGrants even when I search by the DUNS number.

Please contact your USDA Agency point of contact for assistance confirming your organizational registration and details in the ezFedGrants System. Please include your organization’s DUNS, CAGE or other identifiers with your message.

Where are the organization details pulled from?

The organizational information in the ezFedGrants System is based on SAM and/or IRS records. Your organizations registered title or other information may differ from the common title or information you use day-to-day.

What if I submit my access request with the wrong organization selected?

If the reviewer knows that you have selected the incorrect organization, she/he should reject your access request so that you can submit a new request with the correct organization selected.

If your request is approved under the incorrect organization, you External Portal User Profile will be linked to the organization indicated on your access request. A user with the Grants Administrative Officer (GAO) role for the incorrect organization must deactivate your access so that you can submit a new access request for the correct organization. If you are the only user for the incorrect organization, please contact the ezFedGrants Help Desk or a USDA agency representative for assistance in deactivating your access.

Who is my Point of Contact?

For the purposes of the access request, your Point of Contact should be someone (other than yourself) within your organization who can confirm the information provided on your access request, namely your association with the organization and your need for access.

This is typically, but not always, a supervisor. If your organizational occupation reports to high-level management or board members, you may need to provide a colleague or some other point of contact who is involved more directly with your grants-related occupational functions. Your Point of Contact does not need to have access to ezFedGrants.

Can my Grants Administrative Officer (GAO) be my Point of Contact?

Yes, your GAO can be your Point of Contact.

Why are some fields in the Work Contact Information section already populated?

Some fields may be pre-populated based on information from your eAuthentication profile.

Where is the Submit button?

The Submit button is only available when viewing the last section of the access request: The Contact Information section.

I received an error message when attempting to submit my access request.

The following are possible error messages that appear when submitting access requests:

Who approves my access request?

If you are the first ezFedGrants user for your organization, your request will be reviewed by a USDA Agency Grants Management Officer (AGMO) from the Agency you selected when submitting your access request.

If your organization already has at least one user with ezFedGrants Portal access, your request will be reviewed by your organization’s Grants Administrative Officer.

How will I know when my request is approved?

Once action is taken on your access request by the reviewer, you will receive an email regarding the reviewer’s decision.

If your request has been approved, you will have access to the full ezFedGrants External Portal, insofar as allowed by the permissions associated with your user role.

Why was my request rejected?

Some common reasons for access request rejections are:

What if my request is rejected?

You will need to submit a new access request. Please contact the individual or agency who reviewed your request for guidance.

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User Profiles

How do I view my user profile?

Select your username in the top right corner of the ezFedGrants External Portal screen. Select Profile from the dropdown menu.

How do I edit my user profile?

On the User Profile screen, select the Update Profile button. Please refer to the External Portal User Profile Management Job Aid for more information.

Do I need to update my ezFedGrants External Portal profile when I change organizations or departments?

If you have changed organizations/departments, please ensure your email address and other contact information is correct. Incorrect profile information may prevent or delay delivery of notification emails and other communications.

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GAOs: Reviewing Access Requests

How do I review access requests?

Access request work items are accessed through the Actionable Items tile on the ezFedGrants External Portal Home screen. Please refer to the Access Request Review Job Aid for more information.

What is the purpose of the Find Contact search?

During access request approval, you will have the opportunity to link a user’s existing ezFedGrants Internal Portal contact record to the user’s new External Portal profile. The Find Contact popup window allows you to search for any such record in the ezFedGrants Internal Portal in order to link the two records.

Please note linking with a contact record is not required. If you cannot find a valid record through the Find Contact search, please leave the Contact Details fields blank.

Does it matter which contact record I select in the Find Contact search?

Yes. The Internal Portal contact record will be updated based on the information in the External Portal profile once you finalize you approval of the request. If you have selected a record for an individual other than the individual requesting access, the selected Internal Portal record will be overwritten with the information from newly approved External Portal profile.

How can I be sure I am selecting the correct contact record?

You can determine whether the record is accurate by comparing the information in the Contact Details section of the Request Access screen, the Search Results table in the Find Contact popup window, and the Personal Information tab on the Request Access screen. This information should be generally congruent.

The system will display a warning on the Find Contact popup window if you select record that does not match.

What if I select the wrong contact record?

If you have not yet selected the Submit button, simply select the Find Contact button again to repeat the search. To cancel a selection and clear the Contact Details section, select the Clear Contact Selection button.

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GAOs: Managing Roles and Access

How do I remove a user who is no longer part of my organization?

GAOs can deactivate ezFedGrants External Portal access for users in their organization through the Manage Permissions screen. GAOs cannot deactivate their own access. Please refer to the External Portal User Role Management Job Aid for more information.

I am a GAO. Why don’t I see my name on the Manage Permissions screen?

Because GAOs cannot deactivate their own access or change their own role, GAOs will not see themselves on the Manage Permissions screen. Another GAO will be able to see your name on the Manage Permissions screen and deactivate your access or change your role, if necessary.

As a GAO, how do I know if a deactivation or role change was applied?

When you select the Change or Deactivate button, a popup window will appear asking you to confirm your decision. Upon selecting the Ok button, your decision will be applied, but the Manage Permissions screen will not refresh.

If you wish to see your change in practice, you will need to start a fresh portal session by exiting your internet browser, opening a new internet window, and logging back in to the External Portal. Depending on your browser configuration, you may need to clear your cache (history and cookies).

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Last Updated / Reviewed: November 29, 2018