The Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced plans to streamline the broadband stimulus grant and loan process by awarding the remaining $3.2 billion in just one more round rather than two rounds. The two agencies said the move would increase efficiency and better accommodate applicants.
The first round of these grant and loan programs produced about 2,200 applications requesting nearly $28 billion in funding--almost seven times the amount of funding available in that round. The agencies expect to award up to $4 billion in loans, grants and loan/grant combinations in the first round, with the first funding awards announced in December.
"We are listening to applicants, reviewing applications received, and all indications suggest a need to revisit the application process. We will consider changes in the next NOFA to make the process more ‘applicant friendly' from beginning to end," said Jonathan Adelstein, administrator of RUS.
The agencies also announced they are seeking public comment on how best to administer the second round of funding for the programs in order to improve the applicant experience. Many applicants bemoaned the unwieldy applications process as documents often numbered in the 500-page range.
- see this release
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