Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Congress Wins Minor Change to Broadband Stimulus Program 03/02/2010 San Francisco - Members of both the House and Senate, working with agency line managers in the Obama Administration, have won a partial change to the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus program in advance of Thursday's congressional oversight hearing on the program.

This morning the 2 federal agencies managing the effort issued 11 and 14 day filing extensions in 2 categorical funding areas. As recently as last week, 1 agency chief, Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), on 2 separate occasions flatly denied any chance of an extension of the March 15 funding application deadline.

In the interim, Congressman Rick Boucher (D-VA-09), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet responded to increasing complaints about the program and posted a call for a congressional oversight hearing of the effort, scheduled for Thursday March 4 at 10:00 A.M. (ET).

Late morning today, Washington time, the federal website posted the following announcement:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010
NTIA and RUS will grant a limited extension of time to file infrastructure applications in the second funding round. Specifically, applicants for BTOP Comprehensive Community Infrastructure projects will have until March 26th to file their applications to NTIA. Applicants for BIP infrastructure projects will have until March 29th to file their applications to RUS. Applications in NTIA's two other project categories - Public Computer Centers and Sustainable Broadband Adoption - remain due on March 15th.

To date, neither federal department, the NTIA nor its sister agency manging the program, the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has moved effectively to respond to fund applicants and other critics to make the process substantially more open or transparent.
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