RUS: We're 'painfully aware' of stimulus app process

The Rural Utility Service is open to nearly any suggestions on how to improve the broadband stimulus award process.

RUS Deputy Administrator Jessica Zufolo, speaking at the 2009 FTTH Council Conference & Expo, said the department is "painfully aware" of problems with the application process and is desperately seeking suggestions on how to change things for the next go-around of funding, according to an article on Telephony.

"We are eager to work with everybody," Zufolo said. "We want to get it right. It is important for our agency and for the president, and we are open to your suggestions. We want you to feel confident you have partners at RUS that want to help you do as much as possible in investing your hard-earned dollars and the hard-earned dollars of taxpayers in bringing broadband services to underserved rural areas."

Earlier that day, three applicants on a panel had criticized the process of applying for the funding for its complexity, confusing terms and difficulties in filing applications and supporting maps online. Those difficulties had led to a deadline extension when the online filing system was overloaded with applications in the last week. Even the agency's choice of software programs came under fire.

Zufolo also confirmed that the RUS and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) are likely to combine the scheduled second and third rounds of funding into one round. The notice for the second round will be issued in December with funding released next summer, she said.

For more:
- see Telephony

Related articles:
NTIA to begin awarding broadband stimulus grants in November
WiMAX, fiber dominate first round of broadband stimulus applications
Broadband stimulus applications stretch from 700 MHz to 3.65 GHz

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