BTOP Quarterly Report 3 Issued 11-16-2009

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Quarterly Report to Congress released by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and reporting on quarterly program actions within the agency's Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). NTIA is the agency with the Department of Commerce that manages Commerce's component of the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus program within the Recovery Act, officially called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Release date: 11-16-09
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    Broadband T ec hnology Opportuniti e s Program (BTOP)Quart e rly Program Statu s R e port Submitted to theCommittee on AppropriationsUnited States SenatetheCommittee on AppropriationsUnited States House of RepresentativestheCommittee on Commerce, Science and TransportationUnited States Senateand theCommittee on Energy and CommerceUnited States House of Representatives November 16, 2009 National Telecommunications and Information AdministrationU.S. Department of Commerce  - 2 - I .   Introdu c tion and Ba c kground Pursuant to Section 6001(d)(4) of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009(Recovery Act or Act) (Public Law No. 111-5), the National Telecommunications andInformation Administration (NTIA) provides this quarterly report on the status of the BroadbandTechnology Opportunities Program (BTOP).Title VI of the Recovery Act directs the Assistant Secretary for Communications andInformation (Assistant Secretary), in consultation with the Federal Communications Commission(FCC), to establish a grant program designed to increase broadband penetration and adoption inunserved and underserved areas of the United States; provide broadband training and support toschools, libraries, healthcare providers, and other organizations; improve broadband access to public safety agencies; and stimulate demand for broadband. In addition, the $4.7 billion infunding provided under the Act is intended to create jobs and stimulate economic growth.The Act establishes eligibility requirements for grantees and grant projects; allocates certainamounts of funding for specifically-identified broadband initiatives; imposes substantive and procedural requirements on the Assistant Secretary for the administration of the program as wellas on grantees in their use of BTOP funding; and requires that all awards be made before the endof fiscal year 2010. The Act further requires NTIA to develop and maintain a comprehensivenationwide inventory map of broadband service capability and availability, and to make the map publicly available via the Internet.Among other things, the Assistant Secretary is required to provide a status report to Congressevery 90 days. NTIA will supplement these reports with informal briefings for Members of Congress as well as appearances at Congressional hearings when requested. For example,  NTIA’s Assistant Secretary recently testified before the Committee on Commerce, Science andTransportation of the United States Senate on October 27, 2009, as well as a Subcommittee of the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the United States House of Representatives onSeptember 10, 2009. This quarterly status report reviews developments since NTIA submittedits second report on August 17, 2009. 1   II .   Summary Since the passage of the Recovery Act, NTIA has worked expeditiously to ensure that BTOPfunds are distributed quickly, efficiently, and fairly. In the previous two reports submitted toCongress, NTIA outlined the following procedural and administrative steps taken to launchBTOP in accordance with the Recovery Act’s requirements :Program kickoff in cooperation with other Federal agencies;Public outreach;Efforts to enhance transparency and accountability;Release of the first Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA); 1 Previous BTOP Quarterly Reports are available at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/broadbandgrants/index.html.   - 3 -Public workshops to enhance participation by eligible entities;Preparations to accept and evaluate applications; andO ther steps to improve NTIA’s organizational readiness.  This report focuses on: efforts to accept and process applications; the application review process; preparations for the second funding round; and steps to ensure appropriate oversight andcompliance of BTOP grants. This report also provides an update on the State Broadband Dataand Development Program, including applications received, awards made, and other steps takento develop a national broadband map. III .   Fir s t Noti ce of Fund s Availability (NOFA) On July 1, 2009, NTIA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture ’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) released the first NOFA describing the availability of funds and application requirements for BTOP and the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP). 2 The NOFA provided detailed informationregarding eligibility, definitions, award terms, application submission, evaluation and selection,and award administration to the disbursement of BTOP funding in the first round. NTIA andRUS also unveiled a shared website  –  at www.broadbandusa.gov   –  to make relevant information publicly available regarding BTOP and BIP funds and to accept applications.Up to $1.6 billion in BTOP funds are available in the first grant round. Consistent with theappropriation, first round BTOP funding is divided into three categories of projects. Up to $1.2 billion is available in the Broadband Infrastructure category to fund projects that deliver  broadband service through Last Mile or Middle Mile facilities to unserved and underservedareas. Up to $50 million is available in the Public Computer Center category to fund projectsthat expand computer center capacity at entities that permit the public to use these computer centers, such as community colleges and public libraries. Up to $150 million is available in theSustainable Broadband Adoption category to fund innovative projects that promote broadbanddemand, such as projects focused on broadband education, awareness, training, access,equipment, or support, particularly among vulnerable populations. An additional $200 millionwas placed in reserve for use if needed in the first grant round for meritorious applications in anyof the three project categories, or to be used in later grant rounds. IV .   Appli c ation Intak e   For the first funding round, NTIA and RUS received almost 2,200 applications requesting nearly$28 billion in funding for proposed broadband projects reaching all states, five territories, and theDistrict of Columbia.When including about $10.5 billion in matching funds committed by the applicants, theseapplications represent more than $38 billion in proposed broadband projects. Applications werereceived from a diverse range of parties including: state, tribal, and local governments; 2 The first NOFA is available at http://www.broadbandusa.gov/files/BB%20NOFA%20FINAL%2007092009.pdf .   - 4 -nonprofits; industry; small businesses; anchor institutions such as libraries, universities,community colleges, and hospitals; public safety organizations; and other entities in rural,suburban, and urban areas. Parties submitted more than 830 applications jointly to RUS’s BIPand NTIA’s BTOP , requesting nearly $12.8 billion in infrastructure funding. NTIA received anadditional 260 infrastructure applications that were filed solely with the BTOP program,requesting over $5.4 billion in grants to fund broadband infrastructure projects in unserved andunderserved areas. In addition, parties filed more than 320 applications with NTIA requestingnearly $2.5 billion in grants from BTOP for projects that promote sustainable demand for  broadband services. Parties submitted more than 360 applications with NTIA requesting morethan $1.9 billion in grants from BTOP for public computer center projects. NTIA and RUS posted online  –  at www.broadbandusa.gov   –  a searchable database containinginformation and descriptions of all applications received, as well as maps of the geographic areasof coverage proposed by applicants for infrastructure projects in the first funding round. 3 Asrequired by the Recovery Act, NTIA has made the following relevant information about each project publicly available: the applicant name, contact information, amount requested, adescription of the application, and the executive summary when authorized by the applicant. 4  The database allows the public to search applications by organization name and/or keyword, or view by Project Type, Program, State, Proposed Project Area, or Status. V .   Appli c ation R e vi e w  NTIA is employing a multi-step application review process for proposed BTOP projects. It firstconducts an initial screen of applications to determine whether an application meets theeligibility requirements. Eligible applications then proceed to the “S tep One” review process,where applications receive at least three independent reviews (by a three-member expert review panel) against the eligibility factors as well as against the evaluation criteria established in the NOFA. NOFA evaluation criteria include: (1) Project Purpose; (2) Project Benefits; (3) ProjectViability; and (4) Project Budget and Sustainability.Based on reviewer scores, applications that are considered the most highly qualified advance to “S tep Two ”   “due diligence” review for further consideration. In Step Two, applicants are askedto submit additional information, as appropriate. Such information could include more detailed plans or supporting documentation to further substantiate the representations made in their application. The supplemental information is reviewed and analyzed by NTIA staff with thesupport of engineering, business, and subject-matter experts provided by  NTIA’s contractor,Booz Allen Hamilton, to evaluate the consistency of the applications with the supportingdocuments and ensure applications merit awards. 3 The BTOP Applications Database is available athttp://www.ntia.doc.gov/broadbandgrants/applications/search.cfm.  4 First round applicants were given the choice of publishing their full executive summary, a redacted executivesummary, or no executive summary at all.
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