Friday, October 1, 2010

USDA Ends Broadband Stimulus Program at 307 Projects for $3.6 Billion 10/01/2010 San Francisco - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued a total of $3.6 billion for 307 projects under its portion of the federal broadband stimulus program. USDA yesterday gave out its final project awards, making 4 project funding announcements for a total of $18.5 million. The 307 projects were issued for 45 states and the territory of American Samoa.

Congress gave the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the Department loan writing authority which enabled the $2.5 billion in appropriations given to RUS to be leveraged into the total $3.6 billion.   As we reported yesterday, the leverage ratio achieved by RUS across the entire program, and which changed from loan to loan issued, made it impossible to specifically predict how much in total funds the agency would issue as funding Round 2 moved ahead.  President Obama himself launched the award announcement cycle for Round 2 on July 2 with a brief press event on the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base as he flew to attend funeral services for the late Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV).

Under federal law all broadband stimulus program awards had to be made by midnight yesterday, September 30th.  Congress initially appropriated a total of $7.2 billion for the effort, with the $2.5 billion assigned to USDA, and the balance of $4.7 billion assigned to the U.S. Department of Commerce. In August Congress cut $302 million from Commerce's side of the total appropriations for the program. 

RUS ended its broadband stimulus program yesterday with a whimper rather than a bang.  USDA made its last announcement, for a $7.75 million microwave backhaul project in rural Nevada, by late morning Washington time.  The Department did not announce however that its final award had been made. published an update at 5:00 PM Washington time stating that RUS was continuing awards, based on information we received from the agency.  That information proved to be incorrect.
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