WASHINGTON -- Federal agencies are opening their computer lines to provide scientists with easier and quicker access to information about grants. But even though the Bush administration generally wants its research agencies to coordinate their efforts, each agency has taken a different approach. The result is a smorgasbord of services.

At least three agencies - the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Energy - are setting up grants-by-electronic-mail systems. This month NSF began offering program notices by modem. FEDIX, an on-line service for DOE, is about to add programs from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. And NIH is getting ready to evaluate a year-old test of an e-mail version of its Guide For Grants and Contracts with the hope that investigators will also soon be able to access guidelines directly.

University officials praise these electronic systems for their time-saving features. But they wonder...

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