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NTIA Sends Second BTOP Report to Congress

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From BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report

WASHINGTON, August 31, 2009 – The National Telecommunications Information Administration gives a look back and a look ahead with a new report to Congress it released the week before last. The unit of the Commerce Department submitted its second annual report on its $4.7 billion Broadband Technology Opportunities Program.

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[private_Premium Content][private_Free Trial]This quarterly report, which builds upon the BTOP information submit¬ted to Congress http://www.ntia.doc.gov/broad¬bandgrants/BTOPQuarterlyReport_090518.pdf in May, focuses on steps the agency has taken to advance the directives established by Congress in the Recovery Act, including the release of the first Notice of Funds Availability (NoFA), public outreach, prepara¬tions to accept and evaluate applications and steps to improve agency readiness.

The report notes that up to $1.6 billion will be avail¬able in the first grant round, which as previously announced, is divided into three project categories: broadband through the last or middle mile, projects to expand computer center capacity and funding for innovative projects that promote broadband.

NTIA says in the report to lawmakers that it anticipates subsequent rounds of BTOP funding before all awards are obligated by Sept. 30, 2010. The current goal is to issue a second NOFA before the end of 2009 and a third in the spring of 2010, each preceded by a request for public comment on any suggested modifications to future NOFAs.

“This approach allows NTIA to quickly award funds to high-quality ‘shovel ready’ projects, while also provid¬ing time for other applicants to prepare their proposals and for NTIA to adjust its program as appropriate based upon lessons learned from the earlier rounds,” reads the report.

It discloses that it is authorized to spend up to $141 million for administrative expenses through Sept. 30, 2010 and has contracted with Booz Allen Hamilton for program development and administrative services.

“The contractor will play an important role in assist¬ing NTIA staff in awarding Recovery Act funds in the most effective, efficient, equitable and accountable manner possible,” reads the report. “BAH will assist NTIA with a number of important tasks and responsibilities, including program administration, application processing, communications and out¬reach, grants administration and post-award monitoring, technical assistance, and management support. All grant award decisions shall be made exclu¬sively by NTIA.”

The report also provides a good cheat sheet for anyone seeking a compilation of changes in initial policy, and it pro¬vides a calendar of past and tentative projected BTOP milestones.

It outlines several modifications that the agency has made over the last few months. For example, on June 19, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke decided that the application of the Buy American provision in the Recovery Act would not apply to broadband and related equipment.

The NTIA also says it has taken steps to ensure that BTOP complies with all relevant environmental and historic preservation requirements. [/private_Premium Content][/private_Free Trial]

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Drew Clark is the Chairman of the Broadband Breakfast Club. He tracks the development of Gigabit Networks, broadband's impact, and the universal service fund @BroadbandCensus. He is also Of Counsel with the firm of Best Best & Krieger LLP. The articles and posts on BroadbandBreakfast.com and affiliated social media, including LinkedIN, are not legal advice or legal services, do not constitute the creation of an attorney-client privilege, and represent the views of their respective authors.

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