StimulatingBroadband.com 12/07/2012 San Francisco - Federal grant managers overseeing the controversial $100.635 million Eagle-NET middle mile broadband stimulus project in Colorado have suspended funding for the statewide network effort.
In a letter dated yesterday, the Director of the Grants Management Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) stated to the Vice President of Operations of Eagle-NET that the federal agency "is suspending your award, effective immediately."
The suspension was issued, "Due to ongoing concerns relating to your compliance with grant terms and conditions."
The project grant being administered by the Eagle-NET Alliance (ENA) was awarded in Round 2 of the Obama Administration's broadband stimulus program by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Given the chronically short resources available to NTIA to oversee its issued grants under the program, NOAA personnel have been contracted by NTIA, a sister agency within Commerce, to oversee grant management issues.
New Network Design of Eagle-NET Triggers Suspension
Of greatest surprise in the NOAA letter is the fact that the network project had earlier this year been cited for problems "regarding certain programmatic and financial issues surrounding ENA's award." On August 9, NOAA "placed ENA's award under a Corrective Action Plan (CAP)," which ENA responded to on September 14. It was actually the response to the federal inquiry which triggered the funding suspension.
Yesterday's letter tells Eagle-NET that "statements in the document raised additional concerns related to ENA's failure to consult with NTIA in advance on its new network design." That new network plan, lacking NTIA review and apparently without having undergone environmental review, was "partially implemented" by ENA according to the letter.
No Previous Disclosure
Based on our review of published sources, our inquiries to the lead ENA spokesperson, past inquiries to NTIA, and on our off the record interviews with the major parties complaining about Eagle-NET, we have found no prior public disclosure of the August corrective plan issued by the federal agency to Eagle-NET.
NOAA Eagle-NET Suspension Letter