A RAL is what the Feds send you and your vendors to let everyone know that your application has been received and entered into the system for processing. I asked the vendor "what color is the letter?" In addition to bearing the dates "2005-2006" (indicating the next funding year, the letter was blue. All of the Fed's correspondence for the current funding year is pink. Last year ('03-04) was yellow. Next year is blue. The year after ('06-07) will be probably be green. (No, the Feds don't go in for any of the daring colors no lavender, no orchid, and thankfully no goldenrod.)
I called the first vendor back and asked him to read me the first two paragraphs of the letters. While he was digging them up I heard someone in his office say "you mean the blue papers?" Yup. He'd gotten RALs for the '05-06 apps that we put in last month, failed to read the headers of the letters, and jumped right to the reports at the back, coming to the erroneous conclusion that this was news of our funding for the current year. Doh.
I called JE and told him to hold off on that celebratory drink. I broke the news that what the vendors had were only RALs for next year's apps. No money. We're back to waiting. JE told me that he might make it two drinks.