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Grants Will Slip to February, NTIA Concedes in Third Quarter Progress Report To Congress

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WASHINGTON, November 18, 2009 - In a report to Congress, the NTIA said Wednesday that it won’t conclude doling out the first round of broadband stimulus funding until February 2010.

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration clarified in its third quarterly progress report to Congress this week that it will be dolling out the entirety of the grant money during the next ten months.

The year 2010 is going to be a busy time for the period for both the NTIA and the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities is the other agency, the two government entities charged with distributing $7.2 billion of federal funding.

“NTIA will not conclude the first round of BTOP funding at the end of 2009 as originally targeted, but is on course to do so in February 2010,” states the report (PDF).

NTIA and RUS announced this month that they will limit the remaining grant awards to one more round of funding, which they write in the report “will begin early in 2010.”

All stimulus funding for the broadband initiatives must be distributed by September 30, 2010, according to a statutory deadline set by Congress.

The broadband projects awarded grants must be substantially completed by September 30, 2012, and fully completed by September 30, 2013, reads the report.

According to an NTIA spokeswoman, the agency is “currently developing program-specific post-award compliance and monitoring processes and guidelines that will include Recovery Act and BTOP reporting requirements.” She added that the agency expects to announce a second round notice of funding availability early in the New Year.

“Since the passage of the Recovery Act, NTIA has worked expeditiously to ensure that BTOP funds are distributed quickly, efficiently, and fairly,” according to the report. The document also contains information on NTIA’s efforts to accept and process applications and the application review process.

Earlier this month, RUS and NTIA said they are officially seeking public feedback on how to effectively get the funds to applicants who should be receiving them. A statement from the agencies noted the first round of the grant and loan programs produced about 2,200 applications requesting nearly $28 billion in funding, which is almost seven times the amount of funding available at this time.

Jonathan Adelstein, administrator of RUS said, “We will consider changes in the next NOFA to make the process more ‘applicant friendly’ from beginning to end.” NTIA said it will provide its next quarterly report to Congress no later than February 15, 2010.

Winter covered technology policy issues for five-and-a-half years as a reporter for the National Journal Group. She has worked for USA Today, the Washington Times, the Magazine Group, the State Department’s International Visitor’s Program, and the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. She also taught English at a university in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

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