The Nationwide Allocation of Recovery Funding: An Interactive Map on the Final House-Senate Compromise.
Source: Center for American Progress
 

BROADBAND STIMULUS GRANTS

OVERVIEW

 
This overview provides references to the stimulus act, which are available online at:
 
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ("ARRA") appropriates $7.2 billion to fund the deployment of broadband infrastructure in unserved, underserved, and rural areas in the country, and to help facilitate broadband use and adoption.

The funding will be distributed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in the Department of Commerce (grants) and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) in the Department of Agriculture (loans, loan guarantees, and grants).

The ARRA creates a new grant program to be administered by the NTIA, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). ARRA 6001 pages 398 – 402.

RUS will make grants, loans and loan guarantees for broadband infrastructure under existing programs. The title of the RUS program is “Distance Learning, Telemedicine, and Broadband Program.” ARRA Title I, Department of Agriculture, pages 4 - 5.

NTIA and RUS have jointly held public meetings to solicit input as to how the grant and loan programs will be administered. The two agencies are working with the FCC to develop guidelines for distributing the stimulus funds. The agencies are seeking public comment on how to define “broadband,” “unserved,” and “underserved.”

Congress has set a deadline of September 30, 2010 (the end of federal fiscal year 2010) for the agencies to award all of the Broadband Stimulus Grants. It is expected that there will be three grant cycles, beginning in April / May, 2009.

 

Level of Funding

 
$7.2 billion total
 
$4.7 billion for NTIA grants – Broadband Technology Opportunities Program
 
$2.5 billion for RUS loans, loan guarantees, and grants
 

Factors Considered By Agencies When Making Awards

 

Degree to which an infrastructure construction project is “shovel-ready”

 
An infrastructure project is "shovel ready" when architects and engineers have completed the design, and it is ready to be put out to bid for construction.

Awards will not be made for projects that were already scheduled to have begun prior to the passage of the stimulus legislation.

 

Proposed Broadband Speed

 
The stimulus act requires the NTIA to consult with the FCC to formulate a definition for “broadband service.” Congress asks the NTIA to “take into consideration the technical differences between wireless and wireline networks, and consider the actual speeds that broadband networks are able to deliver to consumers under a variety of circumstances.” (Conference Report)
 

The populations for the project are in an “unserved” or “underserved” area

 
These terms will be defined in the grant regulations.
 

Requirements that Apply to Both NTIA and RUS Grants/Loans

 

Fixed Price Contracts and Competitive Bidding

 
“To the maximum extent possible, contracts funded under the stimulus act shall be awarded as fixed-price contracts through the use of competitive bid procedures.” A summary of any contract that is not fixed-price and not awarded using competitive procedures must be posted on the ARRA website. The purpose of this provision is to avoid unnecessary delays and cost overruns, and to ensure that the uses of recovery funds are transparent to the public. ARRA, Section 1526, page 179.
 

Preference for Quick-Start Activities

 
When using funds for infrastructure investments, grant/loan recipients are required to give preference to projects that can be started and completed expeditiously, including a goal of using at least 50 percent of the funds for activities that can be initiated not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act. ARRA, Section 1602, page 188.
 

Job Creation and Economic Benefit

 
Recipients of grants or loans for infrastructure investment projects are required to use Federal funds in a manner that maximizes job creation and economic benefit. ARRA, Section 1602, page 188.

Grant proposals for any type of project (including non-construction work) should include “estimates of jobs sustained or created” by the project. Each agency is required to post the number of jobs created on the Stimulus Act website. ARRA, Section 1526 (c)(8), page 179.

 

Buy American Materials and Equipment

 

The "Buy American'' provision (section 1605 (a)) of the Recovery Act states that none of the funds appropriated by the Act "may be used for a project for the construction, alteration, maintenance, or repair of a . . . public work, unless all of the iron, steel, and manufactured goods used in the project are produced in the United States.''

The NTIA and RUS have each granted a limited "public interest" waiver of the "Buy American" provision requiring use of infrastructure components manufactured in the United States for broadband networks funded by the stimulus. The automatic waivers for both the NTIA and RUS include the following types of equipment: switching, routing, transport, access, and customer premise. The waivers also cover end user devices and billing/operations systems. Both waivers specifically exclude fiber optic cable, cell towers, and other facilities that are readily available in the United States.

There is one difference in the waivers: The RUS waiver includes coaxial cable; the NTIA waiver does not include this component.

Applicants that want to use materials or equipment that is not covered by an agency "public interest" waiver can petition for a special "case-by-case" waiver as part of the grant application. The NTIA has posted a finding of the "Problems Arising from Application of the 'Buy American' Requirements to Information and Communications Technology Industry." Applicants seeking a case-by-case waiver may want to consult this document for an analysis of the factors considered by the NTIA in granting the waiver.

 

Environmental Review

 
Applicants for infrastructure construction grants may be required by NTIA or RUS to provide an environmental impact analysis, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act. Routine activities with known insignificant impacts are categorically excluded. This may be discussed in regulations to be issued by NTIA / RUS. ARRA, Section 1609 (b), page 190.
 

Resources

 

The Economic Impact of Stimulating Broadband Nationally

"The Economic Impact of Stimulating Broadband Nationally" details the potential state-by-state impact of legislation to accelerate broadband access and use. The Report's findings suggest that the United States could realize an economic impact of $134 billion annually by accelerating broadband availability.
 
 
 

Grant Registration Website

 
 
 

Final Version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

 
 
 

Kick Off of Recovery Act’s Broadband Initiative

 
 
 

NTIA – RUS Joint Public Meetings Archives (Videos and Transcripts)

 
 
 

BTOP Public Comments Received

 
 
 

BTOP Submit Comments

 
 
 

Links to State Recovery Websites

 
 
 

Improving the Grant Management Process, Department of Justice

 
 
 

Stimulus Grants to Local Education Agencies by the Department of Education

 
http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/leg/recovery/factsheet/title-i.html

Department of Education grant program to fund “new opportunities for schoolwide programs for secondary school students to use high-quality, online courseware as supplemental learning materials for meeting mathematics and science requirements.”

 
 

Contact the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board

 
 
 

Where is Your Money Going?

 
 
 

Map: Allocation of Stimulus Funding by State (Block Distributions)

 
 
 

Map: Jobs Created by State