State and Local Broadband Grant Application Process Set for Early 2013 (8/22/12)
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced the requirements for the $135 million state and local implementation grant program authorized under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. The grant application process will begin in the first quarter of 2013, NTIA said.
The requirements follow a request for information (RFI) from NTIA in May seeking input on various issues of the grant program. NTIA received about 70 comments, many of which were consistent with regard to what public-safety needs, said Laura Pettus, NTIA, during a presentation Aug. 22 at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International conference.
NTIA said that the use of the grant money should be focused on planning and development activities in preparation for consultations with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). The commenters agreed that FirstNet must establish a standardized process before states engage in data collection. Some commenters recommended a standard template or database for the state to use to collect and submit information on asset inventories.
The FirstNet board needs to weigh in on the process to have more direction, Pettus said. The data collection aspect will likely be unallowable until FirstNet has developed a standard process to govern data collection, she said. “A lot more dialog is needed before we figure [data collection] out,” Pettus said.
NTIA plans to design the grant program as a formula-based, matching grant program to help states, in collaboration with regional, tribal and local jurisdictions, with planning for the nationwide public-safety broadband network. NTIA intends to avoid a solely population-based approach, as many commenters stressed it should not be a “one size fits all” approach, she said. Although many commenters requested waivers for the 20 percent matching requirement, Pettus said she doesn’t expect the matching component to go away. “We’re taking comments to heart about the best ways to allocate the funds,” she said.
The agency plans to distribute the funding in two phases. NTIA will announce the formula for the funding when it issues the federal funding opportunity (FFO) notice in early 2013.
The first phase of funding will focus on initial planning and consultation activities. The RFI comments said that states will need grant money to hire staff, conduct meetings and development governance strategies to interface with FirstNet and meet its goals.
The second phase, which won’t begin until FirstNet has consulted with the state-designated contact about the matters listed in the bill, will address states’ needs in preparing for additional consultations with FirstNet and planning to undertake data collection activities. The first phase will likely distribute larger funds and last two to three years, while the second phase will likely last another two years, making it a five-year program, Pettus said.
The 56 states and territories are eligible for grants under the state and local implementation grant program. An applicant state/territory can collaborate with other states and regions on its application; however, each must submit its own application. NTIA received several comments regarding submissions as a regional group, but after looking into it, determined it would be a “bureaucratic nightmare,” Pettus said. Each state must submit its own application and commit to a designee, but NTIA is encouraging collaboration within regions when working on their applications. “If you have a working relationship, then we encourage that synergy, but at the end of the day, you’ll have to put in your own application,” she said.
NTIA will give states flexibility in determining which state officer or governmental body to designate as the coordinator of the grant funds. NTIA will ask applicants to explain how they plan to collect input from local and tribal jurisdictions. The administration will also ask how states will leverage their existing governance structures for public-safety broadband consultations and how they plan to expand the expertise of their governance structures to include representatives with an understanding of Long Term Evolution (LTE).
NTIA said it will likely require recipients to show the following:
1. Established governance structure to consult with FirstNet
2. Developed procedures to ensure local and tribal representation
3. Process for education and outreach about the network
4. Notification of potential public-safety users about the network
5. Developed standard memorandum of understanding (MOU) to facilitate the use of existing infrastructure or identified barriers to MOU development
6. Developed staffing plans with local and tribal representation to participate in the governance structure
The administration is also considering having states prepare a plan similar to the existing statewide interoperability communications plans (SCIPs). Likely eligible costs and provisions to ensure rural coverage are included in the information.
The full notice is available here.
Your comments are welcome, click here.
Copyright © 2000 - 2013, Pandata Corp., All Rights Reserved.