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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

California Broadband Stimulus: Public Release of State Funding Recommendations to Feds is Slated

(Editor's Note: This story has been updated with our ongoing report on the release of the California recommendation document, posted 10/21 with updates throughout 10/22.)

StimulatingBroadband.com 10/20/09 San Francisco
- The Administration of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) today stated to StimulatingBroadband.com that the public release of the state's recommendations to the federal government for "broadband stimulus" program funding of in-state broadband projects is expected "today or tomorrow."

I
n a telephone interview of this afternoon, Mr. Joe Camicia, Chief of Staff to Sate Chief Information Officer Ms. Teri Takai, and Bill Maile, media relations director for the Office of the CIO, stated that California made its recommendation filing by the deadline of last week with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Camicia and Maile also stated that the "final approvals" for documentary release to the public are just about completed, with links to such documentation to be published on a state website.

The state officials confirmed for us that upwards of 18 full and part time state employees and outside personnel, drawn from both the CIO's Office and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) have been working on the review effort.

The State Office of CIO was designated by Governor Schwarzenegger as the lead state agency to manage the state-level interface with the federal "broadband stim" program. The CPUC was assigned a cooperative role in the effort, given the Commission's nationally regarded expertise in state broadband programmatic incentives, subsidies, and targeted support.

Governors' offices and state broadband program officials around the nation were given a deadline of last Wednesday, October 14, to advise the NTIA of their recommendations for project funding under Round I of the federal broadband stimulus program. Under rules promulgated in July by NTIA, governors were given the option of making such recommendations for proposed projects in their respective states under NTIA's Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP).

California officials were presented with a total of 176 applications, requesting $2.65 billion for broadband stimulus funding, as they worked to make recommendations to their federal colleagues for project priorities here in the Golden State.

The Feds Give the States A Surprise
The NTIA changed the rules with a surprise announcement of September 18 as upwards of 2,200 funding applications were transmitted the governors' offices around the nation without prior review, ranking, or selection for even basic compliance with eligibility standards. This abrupt and fully unanticipated procedural change fell on California harder than any other state, given both the number and complexity of applications received, and the level of due diligence that sate officials had committed to for their review process.

While many states never publicly posted their review criteria for recommendations to NTIA, California's have been both public and detailed.


Our Take: Over the last week we have seen at least 1 governor, Parnell of Alaska, decide not to make recommendations to NTIA, and another, Pawlenty of Minnesota, refuse to release his communications to the federal agency as a public document. If the truth be told all of the governors and state broadband programs around the nation were more than a bit overwhelmed with the NTIA's regulatory change of September 18. California, while facing both massive budget constraints and a broadband deployment challenge greater than that of many countries, has gone ahead an done its job professionally, without complaint. State officials have done so befitting a jurisdiction with the eighth largest economy on the planet.

There will be winners and losers in the recommendations about to be announced. No one in either group can or should doubt the level of due diligence the Golden State as devoted to the effort.

Resources: StimulatingBroadband.com's State - NTIA Filings
1. Our compilation of documents from other states which have issued their recommendations to NTIA may be read and downloaded here (free registration), via our corporate site.

2. Read all of our state filing stories here: Round I Recommendations to NTIA
StimulatingBroadband.com
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