Friday, January 22, 2010

The Check Isn't in the Mail: NTIA Sending Out 1,400 Broadband Stimulus Rejection Letters

(Editor's Note: This story was first published on Friday, 01/22/2010. Click here: USDA-RUS on Broadband Stimulus: All Rejection and Award Letters to be Issued by Late February for our story of Tuesday, 01/26/2010 which updates to the issue of rejection and award letter scheduling, and the application deadline of 03/15/2010 for Round II.) 01/22/2010 San Francisco
- The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce is now in the process of sending out an estimated 1,400 rejection letters to applicants that applied for Round I funding under the federal broadband stimulus program.

The letters state the recipients have not been passed to the "due diligence phase" of the first funding award cycle of the program, and are therefore not eligible for funding in the current round.

Ms. Jessica Schafer, authorized spokesperson for NTIA this afternoon confirmed in writing for a previously published report quoting an unidentified federal spokesperson that NTIA is now processing the bulk of 1,400 letters for transmittal to Round I applicants that are no longer being evaluated. Ms. Schafer confirms that the agency now estimates that the vast majority of such rejection letters will be mailed a week from tomorrow, by January 30th.

Timely and Transparent Information for Round II Applicants?
Additionally, and importantly, the NTIA authorized spokesperson wrote in response to an on-point question of ours, "Our aim remains to make all round 1 announcements by the end of next month."

This latter point is critical for service providers, states, municipalities, and non-profit groups contemplating the filing of Round II applications by the federal deadline of March 15.

The 2 federal agencies managing the total $7.2 billion broadband stimulus program within the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) have consistently stated that funding Round I winners would be announced prior to the filing deadline for Round II. NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling, and his colleague, Johnathan Adlestein, Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (RUS) have testified to several Committees of Congress that full visibility of Round I funding would be publicly provided to Round II applicants.

More to the point, the recently released rules for Round II, as separately promulgated by NTIA and RUS, make "proposed service areas" of Round I awardees ineligible for Round II funding. Thus, under present rules and mandated schedules, Round II applicants will have only 2 weeks to finally define their respective proposed service areas. Clearly, that 2 week period itself could be further diminished if either agency is not able to give notice of all Round I awards by "the end of next month."
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