Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, 3792-3820 [2010-1097]

Download as PDF 3792 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices protecting against fraud, waste, and abuse, contact btopcompliance@ntia.doc.gov. Additional information regarding compliance for BTOP may be obtained at https://www.broadbandusa.gov/ compliance.htm. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Telecommunications and Information Administration [Docket No. 0907141137–0024–06] RIN 0660–ZA28 Broadband Technology Opportunities Program AGENCY: National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), U.S. Department of Commerce. ACTION: Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) and solicitation of applications. erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 SUMMARY: NTIA announces general policy and application procedures for the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP or Program) that the agency established pursuant to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). BTOP provides grants for deploying broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas of the United States, enhancing broadband capacity at public computer centers, and promoting sustainable broadband adoption projects. In facilitating the expansion of broadband communications services and infrastructure, BTOP advances the objectives of the Recovery Act to spur job creation and stimulate long-term economic growth and opportunity. DATES: All applications for funding BTOP projects must be submitted between February 16, 2010, at 8 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) and March 15, 2010, at 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). ADDRESSES: The application packages for electronic submissions will be available at https:// www.broadbandusa.gov. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for more details. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For general inquiries regarding BTOP or questions regarding this NOFA, contact Anthony Wilhelm, Director, BTOP, Office of Telecommunications and Information Applications, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), 1401 Constitution Avenue, NW., HCHB, Room 4887, Washington, DC 20230; Help Desk email: BroadbandUSA@usda.gov, Help Desk telephone: 1–877–508–8364. Additional information regarding BTOP may be obtained at https:// www.ntia.doc.gov/broadbandgrants/. For inquiries regarding BTOP compliance requirements, including applicable Federal rules and regulations VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 Authority: This notice is issued pursuant to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Pub. L. 111–5, 123 Stat. 115 (2009). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Electronic submissions: Electronic submissions of applications will allow for the expeditious review of an applicant’s proposal consistent with the goals of the Recovery Act. As a result, all applicants are required to submit their applications electronically at https://applyonline.broadbandusa.gov. The electronic application system will provide a date-and-time-stamped confirmation number that will serve as proof of submission. Please note that applications will not be accepted via paper, facsimile machine transmission, electronic mail, or other media format. Applicants, however, may request a waiver of these filing instructions pursuant to Section X.N. of this NOFA. Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP)—11.557. Additional Items in Supplementary Information I. Overview: Describes the broadband initiatives in the Recovery Act, the first round of funding, and an overview of the next round of funding. II. Funding Opportunity Description: Provides a more thorough description of BTOP and the funding priorities. III. Definitions: Sets forth the key statutory terms and other terms used in BTOP. IV. Award Information: Describes funding availability, grant terms, as applicable, and other award information. V. Eligibility Information and General Program Requirements: Establishes eligibility criteria, eligible and ineligible costs, and general program requirements. VI. Application and Submission Information: Provides information regarding how to apply, application materials, and the application process. VII. Application Review Information: Establishes the evaluation criteria for application review. VIII. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates: Identifies the initial announcement date for certain awards and provides other information regarding BTOP. IX. Award Administration Information: Provides award notice information, administrative and national policy requirements, terms and conditions, and other reporting requirements for award recipients. X. Other Information: Sets forth guidance on funding, compliance with various laws, PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 confidentiality, discretionary awards, and authorized signatures. I. Overview A. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed the Recovery Act into law.1 The essential goal of the Recovery Act is to provide a ‘‘direct fiscal boost to help lift our Nation from the greatest economic crisis in our lifetimes and lay the foundation for future growth.’’ 2 Accordingly, the Recovery Act identifies five overall purposes: To preserve and create jobs and promote economic recovery; to assist those most impacted by the current economic recession; to provide investments needed to increase economic efficiency by spurring technological advances in science and health; to invest in transportation, environmental protection, and other infrastructure that will provide longterm economic benefits; and to stabilize State and local government budgets.3 The Recovery Act further instructs the President and the heads of Federal departments and agencies to manage and expend Recovery Act funds to achieve these five purposes, ‘‘commencing expenditures and activities as quickly as possible consistent with prudent management.’’ 4 Consistent with the purposes described above, the Recovery Act provides the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) with $7.2 billion to expand access to broadband services in the United States. In so doing, the Recovery Act recognizes the growing importance of access to broadband services to economic development and to the quality of life of all Americans. The Recovery Act provides $4.7 billion to NTIA to establish the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP or Program) and directs that these funds be awarded by September 30, 2010. This amount represents a significant investment to advance President Obama’s national broadband strategy. Of these funds, at least $200 million will be made available for competitive grants for 1 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Pub. L. No. 111–5, 123 Stat. 115 (2009) (Recovery Act). 2 Statement on Signing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Daily Comp. of Pres. Doc., 2009 DCPD No. 00088, at 1 (Feb. 17, 2009), https://fdsys.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/DCPD-200900088/ pdf/DCPD-200900088.pdf. 3 Recovery Act sec. 3(a), 123 Stat. at 115–16. 4 See id. Sec. 3(b), 123 Stat. at 116. E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices expanding public computer center capacity; at least $250 million will be made available for competitive grants for innovative programs to encourage sustainable adoption of broadband services; and up to $350 million will be made available to fund the State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program (Broadband Mapping Program) authorized by the Broadband Data Improvement Act.5 The Broadband Mapping Program is designed to support the development and maintenance of a nationwide broadband map for use by policymakers and consumers.6 erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 B. Round One In response to the first Notice of Funds Availability (First NOFA), RUS and NTIA received almost 2,200 applications requesting nearly $28 billion in funding for proposed broadband projects reaching all States, five territories, and the District of Columbia.7 When including about $10.5 billion in matching funds committed by the applicants, these applications represent more than $38 billion in proposed broadband projects. RUS and NTIA received applications from a diverse range of parties, including: State, tribal, and local governments; nonprofits; industry; small businesses; community anchor institutions such as libraries, universities, community colleges, and hospitals; public safety organizations; and other entities in rural, suburban, and urban areas. Parties submitted more than 830 applications jointly to RUS’s Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) and NTIA’s BTOP, requesting nearly $12.8 billion in infrastructure funding. NTIA received an additional 260 infrastructure applications that sought only BTOP funding, requesting more than $5.4 billion in grants for broadband infrastructure projects in unserved and underserved areas. Parties submitted more than 360 applications to NTIA requesting more than $1.9 billion in grants from BTOP for public computer center projects. In addition, parties filed more than 320 applications with NTIA requesting nearly $2.5 billion in grants from BTOP for projects that promote sustainable demand for broadband services. On December 17, 2009, NTIA announced the first set of awards out of the $1.6 billion that was allocated for 5 Pub. L. 110–385, 122 Stat. 4096 (to be codified at 47 U.S.C. 1301 et seq.). 6 See State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program, Notice of Funds Availability and Solicitation of Applications, 74 FR 32545 (July 8, 2009). 7 Notice of Funds Availability and Solicitation of Applications, 74 FR 33104 (July 9, 2009). VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 the first round of funding. These awards, as well as additional awards announced by Secretary Locke on January 13, 2010, totaled approximately $137 million for investments in ten broadband projects benefitting ten States.8 Of these awards, $119 million was dedicated for Middle Mile projects; $15.9 million for Public Computer Center projects; and $2.4 million for Sustainable Broadband Adoption projects. Additional awards will be announced on a rolling basis. C. Round Two 1. Funding Process The purpose of this NOFA is to describe the availability of BTOP funds for the second round of funding and set forth the application requirements for those entities wishing to participate in the Program. Applicants are permitted to apply to one or more of the project categories. Each application will be screened for initial eligibility. Those eligible applications that satisfy the statutory purposes and funding priorities will be prioritized and evaluated against objective evaluation criteria to determine whether an award may be merited. Applications that satisfy the BTOP priorities and score highly when evaluated against the objective evaluation criteria will advance to the due diligence stage of review, where NTIA may request additional information and adjustments to the proposal. From this pool of applications, NTIA will select awardees based on the selection factors. NTIA anticipates completing this round of funding as quickly as possible to maximize the stimulative effect of the Recovery Act. NTIA also is committed to transparency and fairness in the award process and will require rigorous reporting to ensure prudent stewardship of taxpayer funds. 2. Request for Information (RFI) To prepare for this round of funding, on November 10, 2009, RUS and NTIA released a second joint request for information seeking public comment on ways to enhance the applicant experience through targeted revisions to the First NOFA.9 RUS and NTIA 8 White House Press Release, Vice President Biden Kicks Off $7.2 Billion Recovery Act Broadband Program (December 17, 2009), available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/vicepresident-biden-kicks-72-billion-recovery-actbroadband-program. Department of Commerce Press Release, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Announces $7.5 Million Investment to Increase Broadband Access in Los Angeles (January 13, 2010), available at https://www.commerce.gov/ newsroom/pressreleases_factsheets/prod01_008797. 9 Joint Request for Information (RFI), 74 FR 58940 (Nov. 16, 2009). PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 3793 received approximately 225 comments from institutions and individuals on a wide range of topics, and these comments have played an important role in developing this NOFA. For further discussion and explanation of NTIA’s reliance on the public comments in the policy decisions involved in BTOP, see the attached Policy Justification found in the Appendix at the end of this NOFA. 3. Project Categories For this round of funding, NTIA will award grants in three categories of eligible projects: Comprehensive Community Infrastructure (CCI), Public Computer Centers (PCC), and Sustainable Broadband Adoption (SBA).10 The CCI category will focus on Middle Mile broadband infrastructure projects that offer new or substantially upgraded connections to community anchor institutions, especially community colleges. The PCC category will help expand public access to broadband service and enhance broadband capacity at entities that permit the public to use these computing centers, such as community colleges and public libraries.11 The SBA category will fund innovative projects that promote broadband demand, including projects focused on providing broadband education, awareness, training, access, equipment, or support, particularly among vulnerable population groups that traditionally have underutilized broadband technology.12 NTIA plans to award all remaining BTOP grants funded by the Recovery Act in this round of funding. Approximately $2.6 billion of programlevel funding has been allocated to this NOFA by NTIA. NTIA intends to award approximately $2.35 billion for CCI projects, at least $150 million for PCC projects, and at least $100 million for SBA projects. 4. Changes From the First NOFA Based on the comments received in response to the second RFI and the experience gained from administering the first round of funding, NTIA is making a number of changes to the Program. The goals of these changes are to increase efficiency, sharpen the Program’s funding focus, and improve the applicant experience. In the first round, RUS and NTIA issued a joint BIP/BTOP NOFA to 10 See Recovery Act Div. A, Tit. II, 123 Stat. at 128. 11 Id. Div. A, Tit. II & sec. 6001(b)(3), 123 Stat. at 128, 512–13. 12 Id. Div. A, Tit. II & sec. 6001(b)(5), 123 Stat. at 128, 513. E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 3794 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices promote coordination between these programs. The agencies gave applicants the option to file a single application for infrastructure projects for both programs. For the second round of funding, RUS and NTIA have decided to issue separate NOFAs for BIP and BTOP to better promote each agency’s distinct objectives. The joint application process was burdensome for some applicants. Therefore, RUS and NTIA have eliminated the option of allowing applicants to file a single, joint BIP/ BTOP application in the second funding round in favor of separate applications. NTIA has sought to bring further leverage to Federal funds by giving additional consideration to projects that propose to contribute a non-Federal cost share/match that equals or exceeds 30 percent of the total eligible costs of the project. In addition, NTIA is adopting a ‘‘comprehensive communities’’ approach to award BTOP grants for infrastructure projects that emphasize Middle Mile broadband capabilities and new or substantially upgraded connections to community anchor institutions to maximize the benefits of BTOP funds. In adopting this approach, NTIA has restructured the Broadband Infrastructure category of the First NOFA into the CCI category for this second round of funding. Further, NTIA has implemented other targeted changes to several Program provisions. In particular, NTIA has reduced the number of BTOP’s eligibility factors to just three criteria— eligible entities, fully completed application, and matching—which will be used to determine whether an application is eligible for consideration. NTIA has further streamlined the eligibility review by removing the budget reasonableness and technical feasibility factors from the eligibility requirements, because these categories are more effectively evaluated during the expert review and due diligence phases of application consideration. NTIA also has changed the number of expert reviewers from at least three to at least two in order to make the expert review process as efficient as possible, without impacting the rigor of review. NTIA will review CCI applications according to the priorities established in Section II.B. Additionally, NTIA has clarified the process for requesting waivers from several key statutory and programmatic obligations, including the matching fund requirement, Last Mile coverage obligation, and restriction on the sale or lease of project assets. With respect to the application, NTIA will now collect the information most essential to project review in the VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 application itself, with the option to collect additional data during the due diligence review, as needed. In addition, NTIA has made numerous adjustments to the online application system to streamline the intake of information and reduce applicant burden. In particular, NTIA has reduced the overall number of attachments to the applications. It also has separated the BTOP infrastructure application from the BIP infrastructure application and separated the PCC application from the SBA application. Moreover, it has eliminated the proposed funded service area mapping tool and modified the service area delineations from Census blocks to Census tracts and block groups. NTIA also has made it easier for applicants filing applications in multiple project categories to link these applications, in furtherance of NTIA’s focus on comprehensive communities. II. Funding Opportunity Description A. Statutory Purposes Section 6001 of the Recovery Act establishes a national broadband service development and expansion program to promote five core purposes: a. To provide access to broadband service to consumers residing in unserved areas of the country; b. To provide improved access to broadband service to consumers residing in underserved areas of the country; c. To provide broadband education, awareness, training, access, equipment, and support to: (i) Schools, libraries, medical and healthcare providers, community colleges and other institutions of higher learning, and other community support organizations; (ii) organizations and agencies that provide outreach, access, equipment, and support services to facilitate greater use of broadband services by vulnerable populations (e.g., low-income, unemployed, aged); or (iii) job-creating strategic facilities located in State- or Federally-designated economic development zones; d. To improve access to, and use of, broadband service by public safety agencies; and e. To stimulate the demand for broadband, economic growth, and job creation.13 B. BTOP Priorities All projects funded under BTOP must advance one or more of the five statutory purposes outlined above. The Program is designed to extend broadband access to unserved areas, 13 See PO 00000 id. Sec. 6001(b), 123 Stat. at 512–13. Frm 00004 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 improve access to underserved areas, and expand broadband access to a wide range of institutions and individuals, including vulnerable populations. It will seek to serve the highest priority needs for Federal investment— particularly projects that offer the potential for economic growth and job creation. The Program will support viable, sustainable, and scalable projects. 1. Comprehensive Community Infrastructure Projects a. Background In the first funding round, NTIA solicited Broadband Infrastructure applications in two categories, Last Mile and Middle Mile. Last Mile projects were defined as any infrastructure project the predominant purpose of which is to provide broadband service to end users or end-user devices. Middle Mile projects were defined as any broadband infrastructure project that does not predominantly provide broadband service to end users or to end-user devices and that may include interoffice transport, backhaul, Internet connectivity, or special access. Middle Mile projects funded to date in Round One also included expanding and enhancing broadband services for community anchor institutions such as schools, libraries, colleges and universities, medical and healthcare providers, public safety entities, and other community support organizations. Recognizing the significant importance of Middle Mile infrastructure to improving broadband capabilities for consumers residing in unserved and underserved areas of the nation, NTIA has awarded a significant portion of funds in the first round of funding to Middle Mile projects, particularly those that connect a significant number of community anchor institutions. Such projects provide substantial benefits, including enhancing broadband service for community anchor institutions, facilitating the development of Last Mile broadband services in unserved and underserved areas, and promoting economic growth. b. CCI Funding Priorities In this round of funding, NTIA seeks to focus on Middle Mile projects by adopting a ‘‘comprehensive communities’’ approach to awarding BTOP infrastructure grants. Under this approach, priority will be given to CCI projects that include a Middle Mile component and satisfy certain E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices additional considerations.14 This prioritization will be used for the sequencing of applications for the objective merit review performed by expert reviewers.15 In particular, the highest priority for merit review will be given to CCI applications that satisfy all of the criteria below. Note that the application evaluation process will continue to consider additional factors, including, for example, the degree to which the projects will benefit consumers residing in unserved or underserved areas, the participation of an Indian Tribe or socially and economically disadvantaged small business concern as defined under Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act (as modified by NTIA’s adoption of an alternative small business concern size standard for use in BTOP),16 and the ability of a project to leverage funding from another Recovery Act program or other State or Federal development program.17 In order of importance, the CCI priority criteria are set forth as follows: (1) Projects that will deploy Middle Mile broadband infrastructure with a commitment to offer new or substantially upgraded service to community anchor institutions. Those projects proposing to serve a significant number of community anchor institutions that have expressed a demand or indicated a need for access or improved access to broadband service will receive higher priority; (2) Projects that will deploy Middle Mile broadband infrastructure and incorporate a public-private partnership among government, non-profit and forprofit entities, and other key community stakeholders, particularly those that have expressed a demand or indicated a need for access or improved access to broadband service; (3) Projects that will deploy Middle Mile broadband infrastructure with the intent to bolster growth in economically distressed areas; (4) Projects that will deploy Middle Mile broadband infrastructure with a commitment to serve community erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 14 Consistent with the terms of the Recovery Act, in this funding round NTIA will not fund Middle Mile projects in areas that RUS has already funded with Middle Mile awards made through BIP. 15 See Department of Commerce (DOC) Grants and Cooperative Agreements Interim Manual (Grants Manual), ch. 8, secs. B.1.c. and B.3 (June 21, 2007) (available at https://oam.ocs.doc.gov/GMD_updateddoc.html). 16 15 U.S.C. 637(a)(4). NTIA sought the Small Business Administration’s approval to adopt a $40 million alternative small business size standard for BTOP. The Small Business Administration issued a letter approving the use of this alternative size standard of $40 million to define a small business concern for purposes of BTOP. 17 See infra Section VII.A.1. VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 colleges that have expressed a demand or indicated a need for access or improved access to broadband service; (5) Projects that will deploy Middle Mile broadband infrastructure with a commitment to serve public safety entities that have expressed a demand or indicated a need for access or improved access to broadband service; (6) Projects that will deploy Middle Mile broadband infrastructure that includes (i) a Last Mile infrastructure component in unserved or underserved areas; or (ii) commitments or nonbinding letters of intent from one or more Last Mile broadband service providers.18 For Last Mile infrastructure components in rural areas, however, the additional costs of the Last Mile component used to offer service to residential consumers and noncommunity anchor institutions may not exceed more than 20 percent of the total eligible costs of the project; and (7) Projects that will deploy Middle Mile broadband infrastructure and propose to contribute a non-Federal cost match that equals or exceeds 30 percent of the total eligible costs of the project. To the extent that a CCI applicant with a Middle Mile component does not address all of the criteria set forth above (i.e., criteria (1)–(7)), NTIA will prioritize those applications remaining for merit review in the order that they satisfy the most highly-ranked criteria (i.e., applications satisfying criteria (1)– (6) will be sequenced for merit review, then applications satisfying (1)–(5), then (1)–(4), then (1)–(3), then (1)–(2) respectively, and, finally, applications that satisfy only the first criterion). All other CCI applicants with a Middle Mile component, that is, those that do not satisfy the first criterion identified above, will be next in priority for merit review. c. ‘‘Comprehensive Communities’’ Policy Rationale The ‘‘comprehensive communities’’ approach, with its focus on the deployment of Middle Mile broadband facilities and the provision of new or substantially upgraded connections to community anchor institutions as its centerpiece, will provide a number of benefits to the public and taxpayers. ‘‘Comprehensive communities’’ projects can leverage resources and better ensure sustainable community growth and prosperity. These projects also can create consumer demand and lay the foundation for the ultimate provision of 18 Consistent with the terms of the Recovery Act, in this funding round NTIA will not fund Last Mile projects in areas that RUS has already funded with Last Mile awards made through BIP. PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 3795 reasonably priced end-user broadband services in unserved and underserved communities. Open and nondiscriminatory CCI projects funded by BTOP will enable other service providers to serve the community.19 Once Middle Mile facilities are built, the costs of providing services to a broad array of end users are reduced. Much like the interstate highways that link together the nation’s roads and streets, Middle Mile broadband facilities play a critical role in the healthy functioning of the nation’s broadband infrastructure and are a necessary foundation for the ultimate provision of affordable end-user broadband services in unserved and underserved communities. Expanding Middle Mile broadband service not only enhances the availability and affordability of end-user broadband connectivity for consumers and businesses, it also increases the effectiveness of community anchor institutions in fulfilling their missions. Schools, libraries, colleges and universities, medical and healthcare providers, public safety entities, and other community support organizations increasingly rely on high-speed Internet connectivity to serve their constituencies and their communities. Expanding broadband capabilities for community anchor institutions will result in substantial benefits for the entire community, delivering improved education, healthcare, and economic development. CCI projects are also job-intensive and pave the way for a ripple effect of economic development throughout the communities they touch. Focusing the awards in this funding round on CCI projects that provide high-speed Middle Mile networks to connect community anchor institutions, including community colleges, or benefit consumers residing in unserved or underserved areas will maximize the benefits of Recovery Act dollars and lay a foundation for economic development for years to come.20 d. Relationship to BIP Although BIP and BTOP no longer will offer a joint application, RUS and NTIA continue to collaborate to maximize the impact of available Federal funding, to best leverage the experience and expertise of each agency, and to avoid geographic overlap 19 See Recovery Act sec. 6001(j), 123 Stat. at 515. National Economic Council, Recovery Act Investments in Broadband: Leveraging Federal Dollars to Create Jobs and Connect America (Dec. 2009), available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/ sites/default/files/20091217-recovery-actinvestments-broadband.pdf. 20 See E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 3796 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices in projects funded by the two agencies (as required by the Recovery Act).21 To accomplish these objectives, NTIA strongly recommends that CCI applicants that are currently RUS loan or grant recipients as well as any CCI applicant whose project will include a Last Mile service area that is at least 75 percent rural apply to BIP for funding. Applications from such applicants will not be viewed favorably by NTIA and will not be a funding priority. e. Exclusive Last Mile Projects As explained above, priority will be given to CCI projects that include a Middle Mile component. While a CCI project may exclusively contain a Last Mile component, it will only be considered for merit review and funding after all projects with a Middle Mile component have been considered. erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 2. Public Computer Centers (PCC) In this funding round, consistent with the Recovery Act, NTIA will fund PCC projects. These projects provide broadband access to the general public or a specific vulnerable population and must either create or expand a public computer center or improve broadband service or connections at a public computer center, including those at community colleges, that meets a specific public need for broadband service. PCC projects are a logical complement to CCI projects, because they are uniquely positioned to serve many members of a community with computer equipment, computer training, job training, and access to job and educational resources that might not otherwise be available. 3. Sustainable Broadband Adoption (SBA) Consistent with the Recovery Act and the promotion of BTOP’s five core objectives, NTIA also will fund SBA projects. The SBA program is designed to fund innovative projects that promote broadband demand, especially among vulnerable population groups where broadband technology traditionally has been underutilized. Broadband technology has reshaped the way our nation functions, and NTIA recognizes that broadband adoption projects strive to ensure that as much of the population as possible has opportunities, abilities, and resources to thrive in today’s society. With projects focusing on broadband awareness, access, training, and education, barriers to broadband adoption can be overcome, fostering educational and business opportunities and a more competitive country as a 21 Recovery Act Tit. I, 123 Stat. at 118. VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 whole. NTIA, therefore, seeks SBA projects that, after establishing a subscribership baseline in a given community, demonstrate a clear ability to measure and sustain the expected increase in broadband adoption without ongoing Federal grant assistance, so that the nation will continue to see the benefits of these projects well after the period of performance for the grant award has ended. C. Application Review and the Selection Process 1. Initial Review NTIA will conduct an initial review of applications to determine whether they meet the eligibility requirements set forth in Section V.A. through V.C. of this NOFA. These requirements are mandatory, and applicants that fail to meet them will not have their applications considered further. 2. Scoring Applications Subsequent to this initial eligibility review, applications will be separated into the three project categories. For PCC and SBA projects, applications will receive an Evaluation Criteria Review score by at least two objective expert reviewers who may be Federal employees or non-Federal persons. For CCI projects, program staff will prioritize the applications for the Evaluation Criteria Review based on the BTOP priorities set forth in Section II.B., and then the applications will be evaluated in priority order by at least two objective expert reviewers who may be Federal employees or non-Federal persons. No consensus advice will be provided by the non-Federal expert reviewers. Reviewers will be selected based on their expertise in: (i) Analyzing a business or organizational model pursuant to BTOP purposes; (ii) designing, funding, constructing, or operating broadband networks or public computer centers; (iii) broadbandrelated outreach, training, or education; (iv) innovative programs to increase the demand for broadband services; or (v) other broadband-related functions or activities. Reviewers will evaluate applications against the evaluation criteria provided in this NOFA and independently score each application. Reviewer scores will be averaged and NTIA will establish thresholds that will be used to determine which applications are considered ‘‘highly qualified.’’ Highly qualified applications may be considered further for an award by NTIA Program staff and given a ‘‘due diligence’’ review. For CCI projects, priority in due diligence processing will PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 be given to applications that best conform to BTOP priorities as expressed in Section II.B.1.b of this NOFA. 3. State and Tribal Consultation The Recovery Act authorizes NTIA to consult with States, territories, possessions, and the District of Columbia (‘‘States’’) regarding the identification of unserved and underserved areas within their borders and the allocation of grant funds to projects in or affecting their State.22 After the application deadline, NTIA will invite each State, via its Governor, to provide input on those geographic areas within the State for which NTIA should give priority in selecting projects for funding. States may, if they wish, comment on specific BTOP applications that propose to serve areas within their jurisdiction, regardless of the size or geographic scope of the project and, at their discretion, provide an explanation for why certain applications meet the greatest needs of the State. NTIA also will extend the invitation to tribal entities to comment upon applications that propose to serve tribal communities in an effort to fund projects that best meet the needs of their tribal lands. NTIA will share data that are available on the publicly searchable application database with each relevant State and tribe. States and tribes that wish to review additional information regarding applications proposing to serve areas within their jurisdiction may request such information from applicants directly. States and tribes will not be required to rank or comment on BTOP applications in order for applications affecting their areas to receive funding. The input of States and tribes is consultative in nature and, while extremely valuable, constitutes only one among several factors the Selecting Official, the Assistant Secretary, weighs when evaluating applications. States or tribes will not have the ability to veto any particular project. States and tribes will have no less than 20 calendar days from the date of notification to submit their comments to NTIA. NTIA will make the comments of the States and tribes publicly available at https:// www.broadbandusa.gov. Accordingly, States and tribes should not include in their comments to NTIA any information that is deemed confidential and proprietary. 4. Due Diligence Review During due diligence review, applicants may be asked to submit additional information, as appropriate, 22 Recovery E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM Act sec. 6001(c), 123 Stat. at 513. 22JAN2 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 to clarify or to further substantiate the representations made in their applications. The supplemental information, along with all information submitted with the application, will be reviewed and analyzed by NTIA Program staff to confirm eligibility and evaluate the applications with respect to general Program requirements, the appropriate Federal share of the project, evaluation criteria, and selection factors. Applicants whose supporting documents are not timely filed or who do not adequately substantiate the representations in their applications may be rejected. NTIA may, at its discretion, request supplemental documentation before deciding to reject such applications and re-evaluate the application package based on all of the information presented. At any time during the application review process, NTIA reserves the right to discuss with the applicant specific modifications to the application to resolve any differences that may exist between the applicant’s original request and NTIA’s determination of eligible costs and funding priorities, including, for example, the right to adjust the Federal share of the project. Note that it is NTIA’s intent to fund only the portion of the project that satisfies Program purposes and is justified based on an analysis of anticipated costs and revenues. Specifically, pursuant to the Recovery Act requirement that applicants demonstrate that a project would not have been implemented during the grant period without Federal assistance, NTIA may seek to adjust the amount of funds made available for the Federal share of the project to a level warranted based on this ‘‘but for’’ test.23 Not all applicants contacted necessarily will receive a BTOP award. Upon completion of due diligence, NTIA Program staff will summarize their analysis for each application reviewed. 5. The Selection Process The Director of BTOP (BTOP Director) will prepare and present a package or packages of recommended grant awards to the Associate Administrator for the Office of Telecommunications and Information Applications (OTIA Associate Administrator), or his/her designee, for review and approval. The BTOP Director’s recommendations and the OTIA Associate Administrator’s review and approval will consider the following selection factors: a. The Evaluation Criteria Review score of the objective expert reviewers; b. The analysis of NTIA Program staff; 23 See Recovery Act sec. 6001(e)(3), 123 Stat. at 514. VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 c. Satisfaction of the statutory purposes and BTOP priorities set forth in Section II.; d. The extent to which the nonFederal cost match equals or exceeds 30 percent of the total eligible costs of the project; e. The geographic distribution of the proposed grant awards (e.g., ensuring that, to the extent practical, NTIA awards not less than one grant in each State as set forth in the Recovery Act); f. The range of technologies and uses of the technologies employed by the proposed grant awards; g. Avoidance of redundancy, duplication, and conflicts with the initiatives of other Federal agencies, including Department of Agriculture loan and grant programs for broadband services, applicable universal service programs authorized by the Federal Communications Commission, and, to the extent practical, avoidance of unjust enrichment; 24 h. The availability of funds; i. If applicable, the comments of States, including, but not limited to, such comments as described in their application for the Broadband Mapping Program or as subsequently provided to NTIA either on their own or along with the submission of State-level broadband maps; 25 and j. If applicable, the comments of tribal entities. Upon approval of the OTIA Associate Administrator or designee, the BTOP Director’s recommendations then will be presented to the Selecting Official. The Assistant Secretary selects the applications for grant awards, taking into consideration the BTOP Director’s and the OTIA Associate Administrator’s, or his or her designee’s, recommendations and the degree to which the application package, taken as a whole, satisfies the selection factors described above and the Program’s statutory purposes and priorities as set forth in Sections II of this NOFA. Awards will be made on a rolling basis subject to the availability of funds. Unsuccessful applicants will be notified in writing. III. Definitions The terms and conditions provided in this NOFA are applicable to and for purposes of this NOFA only. Applicant means an entity requesting approval of an award under this NOFA. 24 Recovery Act sec. 6001(h)(2)(D), 123 Stat. at 515. 25 Consistent with the Recovery Act, the Broadband Mapping Program provides participating States the opportunity to identify unserved and underserved areas in their State. PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 3797 Assistant Secretary means the Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Department of Commerce, or the Assistant Secretary’s designee. Award means a grant made under this NOFA by NTIA. Awardee means a grantee. Broadband means providing two-way data transmission with advertised speeds of at least 768 kilobits per second (kbps) downstream and at least 200 kbps upstream to end users, or providing sufficient capacity in a Middle Mile project to support the provision of broadband service to end users. BTOP means the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, administered by NTIA, under the Recovery Act. Build-out means the construction or improvement of facilities and equipment as specified in the application. Community anchor institutions means schools, libraries, medical and healthcare providers, public safety entities, community colleges and other institutions of higher education, and other community support organizations and agencies that provide outreach, access, equipment, and support services to facilitate greater use of broadband service by vulnerable populations, including low-income, the unemployed, and the aged. Comprehensive Community Infrastructure (CCI) project means an infrastructure project that focuses primarily on providing new or substantially upgraded connections to community anchor institutions. Economically distressed area means an area that has: (i) A per capita income of 80 percent or less of the national average; and (ii) an unemployment rate that is, for the most recent 24-month period for which data are available, at least one percent greater than the national average unemployment rate.26 Forecast period means the time period used by NTIA to determine if an application is financially feasible. Financial feasibility of an application is based on eight-year projections. GAAP means generally accepted accounting principles. Grant agreement means the agreement between NTIA and the grantee for grants awarded under this NOFA, including 26 This definition is derived from regulations adopted by the Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, regarding the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965, as amended. See 13 CFR 301.3. E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 3798 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 any amendments thereto, setting forth the binding terms and conditions relating to Federal funding under BTOP. Sample grant agreements are available for review at https:// www.broadbandusa.gov or https:// www.ntia.doc.gov. Grant funds means Federal funds provided pursuant to a grant made under this NOFA. Grantee means the prime recipient of a grant under this NOFA. Last Mile means those components of a CCI project that provide broadband service to end-user devices through an intermediate point of aggregation. That is, in most cases, the Last Mile connection goes from the end-user device through an intermediate point of aggregation (i.e., a remote terminal, fiber node, wireless tower, or other equivalent access point) to a primary IP routing entity in a centralized facility (i.e., in the central office, the cable headend, the wireless switching station, or other equivalent centralized facility). The Last Mile also includes equivalent services that, solely because of close proximity between the customer and centralized facility, are routed directly to the centralized facility. The Last Mile will terminate at, and include, the initial customer-facing router or aggregation switch in the centralized facility (e.g., a DSLAM, CMTS, RNC, or equivalent) that is utilized to deliver Last Mile broadband service. Last Mile service area means the service area of a Last Mile component of a CCI project, composed of one or more contiguous Census block groups 27 or tracts,28 where the applicant is requesting BTOP funds to provide 27 A Census block group is a cluster of Census blocks having the same first digit of their four-digit identifying numbers within a Census tract. A Census block group is the next level above Census block in the geographic hierarchy. 28 Census tracts are small, relatively permanent statistical subdivisions of a county. Census tracts are delineated for most metropolitan areas (MAs) and other densely populated counties by local Census statistical areas committees following Census Bureau guidelines (more than 3,000 Census tracts have been established in 221 counties outside MAs). Census tracts usually have between 2,500 and 8,000 persons and, when first delineated, are designed to be homogeneous with respect to population characteristics, economic status, and living conditions. Census tracts do not cross county boundaries. The spatial size of Census tracts varies widely depending on the density of settlement. Census tract boundaries are delineated with the intention of being maintained over a long time so that statistical comparisons can be made from Census to Census. However, physical changes in street patterns caused by highway construction, new development, or other reasons may require occasional revisions; Census tracts occasionally are split due to large population growth, or combined as a result of substantial population decline. See the Census Bureau’s Web site at https://www.census.gov for more detailed information on its data gathering methodology. VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 broadband service to end-user devices through an intermediate point of aggregation and terminating at the initial customer-facing router or aggregation switch in the centralized facility used to deliver the Last Mile broadband service. Middle Mile means those components of a CCI project that provide broadband service from one or more centralized facilities, (i.e., the central office, the cable headend, the wireless switching station, or other equivalent centralized facility) to an Internet point of presence. The Middle Mile includes, among other things, the centralized facilities and all of the equipment in those facilities, except for any equipment that would qualify as part of a Last Mile component as defined in this NOFA. Middle Mile service area means the project service area, composed of one or more contiguous Census block groups or tracts, where the applicant is requesting BTOP funds to provide broadband service from one or more centralized facilities, (i.e., the central office, the cable headend, the wireless switching station, or other equivalent centralized facility) to an Internet point of presence. Pre-application expense means any reasonable expense incurred after the release of this NOFA up to the issuance of the grant award from NTIA to prepare an application. These expenses include engineering costs, accountant or other consultant fees, and costs related to developing the proposal. Lobbying costs and contingency fees are not included as pre-application expenses. Proposed funded service area means the total service area of a CCI project where broadband service will be provided. Public computer center means a place, including but not limited to community colleges, libraries, schools, youth centers, employment service centers, Native American chapter houses, community centers, senior centers, assistive technology centers for people with disabilities, community health centers, and Neighborhood Network Centers in public housing developments, that provide broadband access to the general public or a specific vulnerable population, such as lowincome, unemployed, aged, children, minorities, and people with disabilities. Recipient means any entity that receives Recovery Act funds directly from the Federal government (including Recovery Act funds received through a grant) other than an individual. This includes a State that receives Recovery Act funds. Recovery Act means the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Pub. L. 111–5, 123 Stat. 115 (2009). PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 Rural area means any area, as confirmed by the latest decennial Census of the U.S. Census Bureau, that is not located within: (i) A city, town, or incorporated area that has a population of greater than 20,000 inhabitants; or (ii) an urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to a city or town that has a population of greater than 50,000 inhabitants. For purposes of the definition of rural area, an urbanized area means a densely populated territory as defined in the latest decennial Census of the U.S. Census Bureau. Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Small Business Concern means a firm, together with its controlling interests and affiliates, with average gross revenue not exceeding $40 million for the preceding three years, and that meets the definition of a socially and economically disadvantaged small business concern under the Small Business Act.29 State means, for purposes of BTOP, a State or political subdivision thereof, the District of Columbia, or a territory or possession of the United States. Sub-recipient means an entity that expends Recovery Act funds received through a subaward from a recipient to carry out a Federal program but does not include an individual who is a beneficiary of such a program.30 Tribe means an Indian tribe that has the meaning given that term in Section 4(e) of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.31 Underserved area means a Last Mile or Middle Mile service area, where at least one of the following factors is met: (i) No more than 50 percent of the households in the Last Mile or Middle Mile service area have access to facilities-based, terrestrial broadband service at greater than the minimum broadband transmission speed (set forth in the definition of broadband above); (ii) no fixed or mobile terrestrial broadband service provider advertises to residential end users broadband transmission speeds of at least three megabits per second (‘‘Mbps’’) downstream in the Last Mile or Middle Mile service area; or (iii) the rate of terrestrial broadband subscribership for the Last Mile or Middle Mile service area is 40 percent of households or less. 29 15 U.S.C. 637(a)(4) (as modified by the Small Business Administration’s approval of NTIA’s request to adopt an alternative small business concern size standard for use in BTOP). 30 Implementing Guidance for Reports on Use of Funds Pursuant to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (OMB M–09–21 June 22, 2009), available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/ omb/assets/memoranda_fy2009/m09–21.pdf. 31 25 U.S.C. 450b(e). E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices An underserved area may include individual Census block groups or tracts that on their own would not be considered underserved. The availability of or subscribership rates for satellite broadband service is not considered for the purpose of determining whether an area is underserved. Unserved area means a Last Mile or Middle Mile service area where at least 90 percent of the households lack access to facilities-based, terrestrial broadband service, either fixed or mobile, at the minimum broadband transmission speed (set forth in the definition of broadband above). An unserved area may include individual Census block groups or tracts that on their own would not be considered unserved. A household has access to broadband service if the household readily can subscribe to that service upon request. The availability of or subscribership rates for satellite broadband service is not considered for the purpose of determining whether an area is unserved. IV. Award Information A. General Approximately $2.6 billion in budget authority has been set aside for funding opportunities under this NOFA. Publication of this NOFA does not obligate NTIA to award any specific project or obligate all of the available funds. Based on Round 1 experience, NTIA expects this grant round to be very competitive. During Round 1, RUS and NTIA received approximately 2,200 applications collectively requesting nearly $28 billion in Federal funds. B. Funding Limits Approximately $2.6 billion is available to be awarded under this NOFA, which NTIA anticipates will be allocated in the following categories: a. Approximately $2.35 billion will be made available for CCI projects; b. At least $150 million will be made available for PCC projects; and c. At least $100 million will be made available for SBA projects. erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 C. Repooling Subject to the statutory thresholds set forth in the Recovery Act, NTIA retains the discretion to divert funds from one category of projects to another. D. Unused Funds Funds remaining from the initial round of funding due to BTOP funding priorities or any other reason, and unused funds not awarded under the Broadband Mapping Program, may be used to augment the BTOP funding VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 categories established above.32 NTIA reserves the right to reopen the application window or release subsequent NOFAs to ensure that all funds are awarded by September 30, 2010. E. Award Amount Given NTIA’s Round 1 experience, NTIA expects to make awards within the following funding ranges. These ranges are not required minimums and maximums, but applicants requesting amounts for projects outside of these ranges must provide a reasoned explanation for the variance in their project size. CCI: $5 million–$150 million PCC: $500,000–$15 million SBA: $500,000–$15 million F. Award Period All awards under BTOP must be made no later than September 30, 2010.33 While the completion time will vary depending on the complexity of the project, grant recipients must substantially complete projects supported by this Program no later than two years, and projects must be fully completed no later than three years, following the date of issuance of the grant award.34 G. Type of Funding Instrument The funding instrument will be a grant. V. Eligibility Information for BTOP Applicants must satisfy the eligibility requirements set forth below in Sections V.A. through V.C. to qualify for funding. Applicants failing to comply with these requirements will not be considered for an award. A. Eligible Entities 1. Applicant Organization The following entities are eligible to apply for funding: a. States, local governments, or any agency, subdivision, instrumentality, or political subdivision thereof; b. The District of Columbia; c. A territory or possession of the United States; d. An Indian tribe (as defined in Section 4 of the Indian SelfDetermination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 450b)); e. A native Hawaiian organization; f. A non-profit foundation, a nonprofit corporation, a non-profit institution, or a non-profit association; g. Other non-profit entities; h. For-profit corporations; i. Limited liability companies; and j. Cooperative or mutual organizations. 2. BTOP Public Interest Finding Section 6001(e)(1)(C) of the Recovery Act authorizes the Assistant Secretary to find by rule that it is in the public interest for any entity not otherwise encompassed by Section 6001(e)(1) to be eligible for a BTOP grant to the extent that such finding will promote the purposes of BTOP in a technology neutral manner. Consistent with the rationale set forth in the First NOFA,35 the Assistant Secretary found it to be in the public interest to permit for-profit corporations and non-profit entities (not otherwise encompassed by Section 6001(e)(1)(B)) that are willing to promote the goals of the Recovery Act and comply with the statutory requirements of BTOP to be eligible for a grant. By adopting this broad approach, the Assistant Secretary intended to invite a diverse group of applicants to participate in BTOP and to expand broadband capabilities in a technology neutral manner.36 NTIA will continue to permit these same entities to apply for funding in this next round of awards. B. Fully Completed Application All applications will be evaluated initially to ensure that they are fully complete, certified, and contain all supporting documentation. C. Cost Share/Matching 1. Matching Requirement In general, awardees under BTOP are required by statute to provide matching funds of at least 20 percent toward the total eligible costs of the project unless the Assistant Secretary grants a waiver. For costs to be eligible to meet matching requirements, they first must be allowable under the grant program. Eligible cost concepts are discussed in more detail in Section V.E. of this NOFA. Applicants must document in their application their capacity to provide matching funds. NTIA will provide up to 80 percent of the total eligible costs of the project, unless the applicant petitions the Assistant Secretary for a waiver of the matching requirement and that waiver is granted based on the applicant’s demonstration of financial need, as discussed below.37 Generally, Federal funds may not be used as a cost match except as provided 35 See 32 See supra note 6. 33 Recovery Act sec. 6001(d)(2), 123 Stat. at 513. 34 Id. Sec. 6001(d)(3), 123 Stat. at 513. PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 3799 74 FR at 33134 (July 9, 2009). Act sec. 6001(e)(1)(C), 123 Stat. at 513; 74 FR at 33110. 37 See id. sec. 6001(f), 123 Stat. at 514. 36 Recovery E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 3800 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices by Federal statute.38 In-kind contributions, including third party inkind contributions, are non-cash donations to a project that may count toward satisfying the non-Federal matching requirement of a project’s total budgeted costs. In-kind contributions must be allowable project expenses. Such contributions may be accepted as part of an applicant’s matching costs when such contributions meet certain criteria.39 Applicants that propose to provide a cost match that is all cash will be given additional favorable consideration in the application review process. Additionally, applicants will be given favorable consideration in the selection process by proposing to contribute a non-Federal cost match that equals or exceeds 30 percent of the total eligible costs of the projects. CCI applicants are strongly encouraged to not request more Federal funding than they require to make the project financially feasible and sustainable.40 2. Petition for Waiver In requesting a waiver of the matching requirement, an applicant should fully explain and document its inability to provide the required 20 percent matching share of the eligible costs of the proposed project. In demonstrating financial need, the applicant should submit: (1) Documents that include the applicant’s assets, liabilities, operating expenses, and revenues from any existing operations; (2) denial of funding from a public or private lending institution; or (3) any other documents that demonstrate financial need. Mere statements of financial need without supporting documentation will not be viewed favorably. The petition for waiver and documentation must be set forth clearly in the application. The Assistant Secretary will evaluate the information provided in support of the petition and may increase the Federal share if financial need is demonstrated. D. General Program Requirements erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 1. Timely Completion Applicants must demonstrate that the project can be substantially completed within two years of the start date of the grant award and fully completed no later than three years following the date of issuance of the grant award. A BTOP 38 See Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, Other Nonprofit, and Commercial Organizations, 15 CFR 14.23(a)(5); see also Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and Local Governments, 24 CFR 24.24(b)(1). 39 See 15 CFR 14.23(a), 24.24(a). 40 See supra Section II.C.4. VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 project is considered ‘‘substantially complete’’ when a grantee has met 67 percent of the project milestones and received 67 percent of its award funds. In evaluating compliance with this factor, NTIA will consider the planned start date of the project; the reasonableness of the project timeline and associated milestones; whether the applicant will be able to secure all licenses, franchises, and regulatory approvals required to complete the project; whether the applicant will be able to meet all environmental requirements; and whether the required contractors and vendors necessary to implement the project are prepared to enter into contracts as soon as the funds are made available. In view of the urgent need for additional economic stimulus, however, NTIA strongly encourages applicants to fully complete their projects within the two-year time period from the date of issuance of the award. 2. Demonstration That Project Could Not Be Implemented ‘‘But For’’ Federal Grant Assistance Grant applicants must provide documentation that the project would not have been implemented during the grant period without Federal grant assistance.41 This documentation may consist of, but is not limited to, such items as a denial of funding from a public or private lending institution, a current fiscal year budget that shows the lack of available revenue options for funding the project, or a business case that demonstrates that the project would not be economically feasible without grant financing. 3. Additional Requirements Applicable to Comprehensive Community Infrastructure Applicants a. Broadband Service All CCI applicants must propose to offer service meeting the definition of broadband as defined in Section III. b. Nondiscrimination and Interconnection All CCI applicants must commit to the following Nondiscrimination and Interconnection Obligations: 42 (i) Adhere to the principles contained in the FCC’s Internet Policy Statement (FCC 05–151, adopted August 5, 2005) or any subsequent ruling or statement; (ii) not favor any lawful Internet applications and content over others; (iii) display any network management policies in a prominent location on the 41 See supra note 23. herein shall be construed to affect the jurisdiction of the FCC with respect to such matters. 42 Nothing PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 service provider’s Web page and provide notice to customers of changes to these policies (awardees must describe any business practices or technical mechanisms they employ, other than standard best efforts Internet delivery, to allocate capacity; differentiate among applications, providers, or sources; limit usage; and manage illegal or harmful content); (iv) connect to the public Internet directly or indirectly, such that the project is not an entirely private closed network; and (v) offer interconnection, where technically feasible without exceeding current or reasonably anticipated capacity limitations, at reasonable rates and terms to be negotiated with requesting parties. This includes both the ability to connect to the public Internet and physical interconnection for the exchange of traffic. Applicants must disclose their proposed interconnection, nondiscrimination, and network management practices with the application. All these requirements shall be subject to the needs of law enforcement and reasonable network management. Thus, awardees may employ generally accepted technical measures to provide acceptable service levels to all customers, such as caching (including content delivery networks) and application-neutral bandwidth allocation, as well as measures to address spam, denial of service attacks, illegal content, and other harmful activities. In evaluating the reasonableness of network management techniques, NTIA will be guided by any applicable rules or findings established by the FCC, whether by rulemaking or adjudication. In addition to providing the required connection to the Internet, awardees may offer managed services, such as telemedicine, public safety communications, distance learning, and virtual private networks, that use private network connections for enhanced quality of service rather than traversing the public Internet. An awardee may satisfy the requirement for interconnection by negotiating in good faith with all parties making bona fide requests. The awardee and requesting party may negotiate terms such as business arrangements, capacity limits, financial terms, and technical conditions for interconnection. If the awardee and requesting party cannot reach agreement, they may voluntarily seek an interpretation by the FCC of any FCC rules implicated in the dispute. If an agreement cannot be reached within 90 days, the party requesting interconnection may notify NTIA in E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices writing of the failure to reach satisfactory terms with the awardee. The 90-day limit is to encourage the parties to resolve differences through negotiation. With respect to non-discrimination, those who believe an awardee has failed to meet the non-discrimination obligations should first seek action at the FCC of any FCC rules implicated in the dispute. If the FCC chooses to take no action, those seeking recourse may notify NTIA in writing about the alleged failure to adhere to commitments of the award. These conditions apply to the awardee and will remain in effect for the life of the awardee’s Federally funded facilities and equipment used in the project. These conditions will not apply to any existing network arrangements or to non-awardees using the network. Note, however, that the awardee may negotiate contractual covenants with other broadband service providers engaged to deploy or operate the network facilities and pass these conditions through to such providers. Awardees that fail to accept or comply with the terms listed above may be considered in default of their grant agreements. NTIA may exercise all available remedies in the event of a default, including suspension of award payments or termination of the award.43 c. Last Mile Coverage Obligation erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 i. Service Obligation An applicant for a CCI project that includes a Last Mile component must identify the Last Mile service area(s) selected for the project. There is a presumption that the applicant will provide service to the entire Last Mile service area(s). ii. Petition for Waiver An applicant may petition for a waiver of the Last Mile Coverage Obligation if it provides a reasoned explanation as to why providing service or coverage for the entire Last Mile service area is extremely burdensome for the applicant. In considering whether providing service or coverage is extremely burdensome, the applicant must explain whether there are any legal, technical, or financial impediments to covering each Census block group or tract. Mere statements regarding the burden to serve an area without supporting documentation will not be viewed favorably. The petition for waiver and documentation must be set forth clearly in the application. 43 Note that the changes made to this section from the First NOFA are meant to clarify, and not change, applicants’ obligations. VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 Applicants may be permitted to serve less than an entire Census block group or tract under certain conditions. For example, an applicant might request to be relieved of this requirement if the Census block group or tract exceeds 100 square miles or more or is larger than the applicant’s authorized operating territory (e.g., it splits a rural incumbent local exchange carrier’s (ILEC’s) study area or exceeds the boundaries of a wireless carrier’s licensed territory). Where applicable, an applicant seeking a waiver also should include information regarding the characteristics of the Last Mile service area (e.g., data showing whether broadband services already are available in the proposed unserved territory by more than one service provider or information regarding terrain, acreage, population, etc.) and costs (e.g., pro forma financial projections or estimated applicant cost/ burden to provide broadband service to the remainder of the area). d. Announcement of Proposed Funded Service Areas In the interests of promoting transparency and strengthening the selection process, NTIA will post an announcement identifying each CCI application it has received, along with a list of the Census block groups or tracts that each infrastructure applicant has proposed to serve through its project, at https:// www.broadbandusa.gov. The posting of this announcement will provide existing broadband service providers with a 15day window voluntarily to submit to NTIA information about the broadband services they currently offer in their respective service territories by Census block group or tract. If an existing broadband service provider submits a response outside of the 15-day period, NTIA may not consider this information in its evaluation of an applicant’s Last Mile or Middle Mile service area(s). NTIA will consider the comments of existing broadband service providers as a factor in its evaluation of the applicant’s Last Mile or Middle Mile service area(s) 44 provided that they include the following information, some of which will be made public: (1) The name of the company providing information on its broadband service offerings; (2) a summary describing the information the provider has presented to NTIA; (3) the number of households and businesses that have access to broadband service in the provider’s service territory by Census block group or tract; (4) the type of broadband services the provider offers in its service 44 See PO 00000 territory by Census block group or tract and the technology used to provide those services, including, for wireless carriers, the spectrum that is used; (5) the prices at which the broadband services are offered; (6) the speed of the broadband services that are offered; (7) the number of subscribers that the provider currently has for each of the broadband services it offers in its service territory by Census block group or tract; and (8) optionally, a list of the provider’s Points of Presence (POPs) in or near Census block groups or tracts listed by the announcement. The information submitted by an existing broadband service provider relating to items (3) through (8) enumerated above will be treated as proprietary and confidential to the extent permitted under applicable law. The information described in items (1) and (2) above, which includes the identity of the company submitting information and a summary of its response, will be made publicly available. NTIA will post at https:// www.broadbandusa.gov a list of the Census block groups or tracts in which existing broadband service providers have indicated that they provide broadband service. NTIA may consider any information submitted by existing broadband service providers as relevant to its prioritization and review of CCI applications and as part of its evaluation of the merits of a highly qualified CCI application. NTIA will contact the applicant as necessary for additional information to evaluate the unserved or underserved status of its Last Mile or Middle Mile service area(s), if applicable, and may take other data, such as existing State broadband maps and FCC Form 477 data, into account during this examination. E. Funding Restrictions—Eligible and Ineligible Costs 1. General Grant funds that NTIA awards may not necessarily be used to pay for all of the costs that the grant recipient incurs in carrying out the project. Specifically, grant funds must be used only to pay for eligible costs. Eligible costs are consistent with the cost principles identified in the applicable OMB circulars 45 and in the grant program’s 45 For example, there is a set of Federal principles for determining eligible or allowable costs. Allowability of costs will be determined in accordance with the cost principles applicable to the entity incurring the costs. Thus, allowability of costs incurred by State, local or Federallyrecognized Indian tribal governments is determined in accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular A–87, ‘‘Cost Principles for State, Local and Indian infra Section VII.A.1. Frm 00011 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 3801 Continued E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 3802 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices authorizing legislation. In addition, costs must be reasonable, allocable, necessary to the project, and conform to GAAP. For CCI projects, eligible costs are generally capital expenses, and not operating expenses. An applicant proposing to use any portion of the grant funds for any ineligible cost will be instructed to revise its proposed budget to remove such costs prior to the award of a grant.46 A more detailed discussion of the eligible and ineligible costs that are applicable to each BTOP project category is set forth in the following sections. In general, a project will incur both direct and indirect costs. Direct and indirect costs may be reimbursed from grant funds provided that they fall within the approved eligible cost categories discussed below. as detailed in Sections V.E.3. and V.E.4. will be considered eligible costs provided they are included as a line item in the applicant’s budget and the applicant has established, or commits to apply for, an approved indirect cost rate. The process for establishing an indirect cost rate with the DOC is described in a document entitled ‘‘General Indirect Cost Rate Program Guidelines for Grantee Organizations’’ and can be found on the Department of Commerce Web site.47 Applicants that do not have an approved indirect cost rate will have 90 days from the award start date to apply to have a rate established. submitted, with the exception of eligible pre-application expenses; iii. To fund an acquisition of an affiliate, including the acquisition of the stock of an affiliate; iv. To fund the purchase or lease of any vehicle other than those used primarily in construction or system improvements; v. To fund the merger or consolidation of entities; or vi. To fund costs incurred in acquiring spectrum as part of an FCC auction or in a secondary market acquisition. 2. Eligible and Ineligible Costs for BTOP Comprehensive Community Infrastructure Projects a. Direct Costs of a BTOP Project Direct costs are those that are directly related and traceable to the cost of the project being supported. Direct costs of a project may be charged to the award if they are allowable costs and are included within approved budget categories. a. Eligible Costs for Comprehensive Community Infrastructure Projects Grant funds may be used to pay for the following expenses: i. To fund the construction or improvement of all facilities required to provide broadband service; 48 ii. To fund the cost of long-term leases (for terms greater than one year) of facilities required to provide broadband service, including indefeasible right-ofuse (IRU) agreements; iii. To fund reasonable preapplication expenses in an amount not to exceed five percent of the award. Preapplication expenses, which include expenses related to preparing an application, may be reimbursed if they are incurred after the publication date of this NOFA and prior to the date of issuance of the grant award from NTIA, except that lobbying costs and contingency fees are not reimbursable from BTOP funds; iv. To fund reasonable indirect costs consistent with the principles outlined in Section V.E.1. of this NOFA; and v. Undertaking such other projects and activities as the Assistant Secretary finds to be consistent with the purposes for which the Program is established. a. Eligible Costs for Public Computer Center Projects Projects under this category are aimed at expanding broadband access and capacity at community anchor institutions, organizations serving vulnerable populations, or job-creating strategic facilities located in State- or Federally-designated economic development areas as well as stimulating broadband demand, economic growth, and job creation. Grantees may use BTOP funding to expand public computer center capacity by: i. Acquiring broadband-related equipment, instrumentation, networking capability, hardware and software, and digital network technology for broadband services, including the purchase of word processing software, computer peripherals, such as mice and printers, and computer maintenance services and virus-protection software; ii. Developing and providing training, education, support, and awareness programs or web-based resources, including reasonable compensation for qualified instructors, technicians, managers, and other employees essential for these types of programs; iii. Facilitating access to broadband services, including, but not limited to, making public computer centers accessible to the disabled; iv. Installing or upgrading broadband facilities on a one-time, capital improvement, basis in order to increase broadband capacity; v. Constructing, acquiring, or leasing a new facility, provided that the applicant explains why it is necessary to construct, acquire, or lease a new facility to facilitate public access to broadband services or expand computer center capacity; vi. Funding reasonable indirect costs consistent with the principles outlined in Section V.E.1. of this NOFA; vii. Undertaking such other projects and activities as the Assistant Secretary erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 b. Indirect Costs of a BTOP Project NTIA has the discretion to consider indirect costs as eligible expenses under BTOP. For CCI projects, reasonable indirect costs associated with the construction, deployment, or installation of facilities and equipment used to provide broadband service as described in Section V.E.2. will be considered eligible provided that they are included as a line item in the applicant’s budget and the applicant has established, or commits to apply for, an approved indirect cost rate. For PCC and SBA projects, reasonable indirect costs associated with eligible project activities Tribal Governments.’’ The allowability of costs incurred by nonprofit organizations is determined in accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular A–122, ‘‘Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations.’’ The allowability of costs incurred by institutions of higher education is determined in accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular A– 21, ‘‘Cost Principles for Educational Institutions.’’ The allowability of costs incurred by hospitals is determined in accordance with the provisions of Appendix E of 45 CFR part 74, ‘‘Principles for Determining Costs Applicable to Research and Development under Grants and Contracts with Hospitals.’’ The allowability of costs incurred by commercial organizations and those nonprofit organizations listed in Attachment C to Circular A– 122 is determined in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) at 48 CFR part. 31. See 15 CFR 14.27 and 24.22 (governing the Department of Commerce’s implementation of OMB requirements). 46 BTOP CCI applicants and PCC applicants will be directed to revise SF–424A (for non-construction projects) or SF–424C (for construction projects). SBA applicants will be directed to revise SF–424A (for non-construction projects). VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 b. Ineligible Costs for Comprehensive Community Infrastructure Projects Grant funds may not be used for any of the following purposes: i. To fund operating expenses of the applicant; ii. To fund costs incurred prior to the date on which the application is 47 See https://oam.ocs.doc.gov/docs/ DOC%20IDC%20Ext%20Policy.v6.doc. 48 These facilities and equipment may include, for example, but are not limited to, the costs associated with complying with all applicable legal requirements, such as the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). See infra Section X.P. PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 3. Eligible and Ineligible Costs for Public Computer Center Projects E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices finds to be consistent with the purposes for which the Program is established; and viii. Paying for reasonable preapplication expenses in an amount not to exceed five percent of the award. Preapplication expenses, which include expenses related to preparing an application, may be reimbursed if they are incurred after the publication date of this NOFA and prior to the date of issuance of the grant award from NTIA, except that lobbying costs and contingency fees are not reimbursable from BTOP funds. While some of the costs associated with the activities enumerated above may be properly classified as operating expenses, an applicant should describe in its application how it intends to cover the operating expenses of the project after the grant period expires. b. Ineligible Costs for Public Computer Center Projects BTOP grant funds may not be used to fund purchases that are not used predominantly for expanding public access to broadband service or enhancing broadband capacity at public computer center locations. 4. Eligible and Ineligible Costs for Sustainable Broadband Adoption Projects erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 a. Eligible Costs for Sustainable Broadband Adoption Projects Projects under this category are aimed at providing broadband education, awareness, training, access, equipment, and support in order to stimulate sustainable adoption of broadband services by individuals, households, and community anchor institutions. In this context, sustainable means adoption (i.e., subscription to broadband service) that the consumer or institution can and will continue to pay for after the award period. Grantees may use BTOP funding for innovative programs that encourage sustainable adoption of broadband services by: i. Acquiring broadband-related equipment, instrumentation, networking capability, hardware and software, and digital network technology for broadband services; ii. Developing and providing training, education, support, and awareness programs, as well as web-based content that is incidental to the program’s purposes, and includes reasonable compensation for qualified instructors for these types of programs; iii. Conducting broadband-related public education, outreach, support, and awareness campaigns; VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 iv. Implementing programs to facilitate greater access to broadband service, devices, and equipment; v. Funding reasonable indirect costs consistent with the principles outlined in Section V.E.1. of this NOFA; vi. Undertaking such other projects and activities as the Assistant Secretary finds to be consistent with the purposes for which the Program is established; and vii. Paying for reasonable preapplication expenses in an amount not to exceed five percent of the award. Preapplication expenses, which include expenses related to preparing an application, may be reimbursed if they are incurred after the publication date of this NOFA and prior to the date of issuance of the grant award from NTIA, except that lobbying costs and contingency fees are not reimbursable from BTOP funds. While some of the costs associated with the activities enumerated above may be properly classified as operating expenses, an applicant should describe in its application how it intends to cover the operating expenses of the project after the grant period expires, if appropriate. b. Ineligible Costs for Sustainable Broadband Adoption Projects BTOP grant funds may not be used for expenses or purchases that are not used predominantly for the provision of broadband education, awareness, training, access, equipment, and support. Additionally, costs associated with constructing or leasing broadband facilities and infrastructure are not eligible. F. Use of Program Income Grantees are required to account for any Program income directly generated by projects financed in whole or in part with Federal funds. Given the Recovery Act’s objectives to spur job creation and stimulate long-term economic growth and opportunity, projects funded by BTOP grants are expected to demonstrate convincingly the ability to be sustained beyond the funding period. While grant funds are intended to cover the capital costs of a project as part of the Recovery Act’s effort to stimulate the economy, grant recipients for all grant programs are expected to present projects that will sustain long-term growth and viability. Any Program income generated by a project funded by BTOP during the grant period shall be retained by the grant recipient and shall be used in one or more of the following ways: (1) Added to the funds committed to the project by NTIA and the recipient to PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 3803 conduct additional activities that will further eligible project objectives, including (a) reinvestment in project facilities, (b) funding BTOP compliance costs, and (c) paying operating expenses of the project; or (2) used to finance the non-Federal share of the project.49 Program income means gross income earned by the recipient that is either directly generated by a supported activity or earned as a result of the award during the funding period.50 Grant recipients shall have no obligation to the Federal government regarding Program income earned after the end of the project period.51 However, the Federal government retains an interest in property in the event that it is sold, consistent with the guidance outlined in Section IX.C. of this NOFA and in applicable DOC regulations.52 VI. Application and Submission Information A. Request for Application Package Complete application packages, including required Federal forms and instructions, will be available at https:// www.broadbandusa.gov. Additional information for BTOP can be found in the Application Guidelines at https:// www.broadbandusa.gov. This Web site will be updated regularly. B. Registration 1. Central Contractor Registration (CCR) All applicants are required to have a current registration in the CCR database prior to receiving an award. Online CCR registration is available at https:// www.ccr.gov/StartRegistration.aspx. Applicants without a current CCR are encouraged to register as soon as possible after the release of this NOFA.53 49 15 CFR 14.24(b), 24.25(g). CFR 14.2(aa), 24.25(b). Program income includes, among other things, income from fees for services performed, from the use or rental of real or personal property acquired with grant funds, and from the sale of commodities or items fabricated under a grant agreement. 15 CFR 14.2(aa), 24.25(a). In general, costs incident to the generation of program income may be deducted from gross income to determine program income, provided these costs have not been charged to the award. 15 CFR 14.25(f), 24.25(c). 51 15 CFR 14.25(h), 24.25(h). 52 See, e.g., 2 CFR 215.24; 15 CFR 14.24, 24.25. 53 ‘‘To enable timeliness of awards, agencies should engage in aggressive outreach to potential applicants to begin application planning activities, including the process of Central Contractor Registration (CCR) and obtaining a Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number.’’ Updating Implementing Guidance for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (OMB M–09–15 April 3, 2009), available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/assets/ memoranda_fy2009/m09-15.pdf. 50 15 E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 3804 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices 2. DUNS Number All applicants should obtain a Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number as soon as possible after the release of this NOFA.54 Applicants can receive a DUNS number at no cost by calling the dedicated toll-free DUNS number request line at 1–866–705–5711 or via the Internet at https:// www.dunandbradstreet.com. C. Choosing the Proper Agency and Category for an Application 1. Broadband Infrastructure a. Choosing BIP or BTOP Applicants that are eligible for both BIP and BTOP have the option to apply to either agency for funding for a project. However, applicants should apply to only one agency for a given project. NTIA strongly recommends that applicants that are current RUS loan or grant recipients, as well as any applicant whose project is for a Last Mile area that is at least 75 percent rural, should apply to BIP for funding. This recommendation is necessary to improve the efficiency of both BIP and BTOP and to leverage the core expertise of the agencies. The agencies will coordinate to identify potential service area overlaps, and will resolve such conflicts in the manner that best satisfies the statutory objectives of both programs. erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 b. Transferability Under this NOFA, the Assistant Secretary may refer to RUS any CCI application that NTIA has determined not to fund but that may be consistent with BIP requirements. c. Comprehensive Community Infrastructure Applications for CCI projects should provide a broadband infrastructure solution that addresses the major needs of communities the project intends to serve. Priority will be given to projects that include a Middle Mile component. The project should meet the significant needs of the community, which in the first instance should include providing broadband service to community anchor institutions, such as community colleges, schools, libraries, medical and healthcare providers, community support organizations, and public safety entities. CCI projects should be technically feasible, sustainable, and scalable, and address BTOP’s priority needs, including offering substantial economic, educational, healthcare, and public safety benefits relative to the 54 Id. VerDate Nov<24>2008 costs of providing service. NTIA will give strong preference to CCI applications that satisfy each of the priorities set forth in Section II.B. To the extent that a CCI project contains a Last Mile component in rural areas, the additional costs of offering service to residential consumers and non-community anchor institutions may not exceed more than 20 percent of the total eligible costs of the project. Additionally, the applicant must demonstrate the cost reasonableness and effectiveness of the Last Mile component of its project. Specifically, applicants must ensure that this aspect of the proposal yields total eligible project costs that are less than $10,000 per household or per subscriber, unless the applicant can demonstrate why it should be permitted to exceed this ceiling. NTIA will look more favorably upon applications with lower costs per household or per subscriber. 2. Public Computer Centers Applications for PCC projects must expand public computer center capacity, including at community colleges and public libraries.55 They must provide broadband access or improve broadband access to the general public or a specific vulnerable population, such as low-income, unemployed, aged, children, minorities, and people with disabilities. Projects must create or expand a public computer center meeting a specific public need for broadband service, including, but not limited to, education, employment, economic development, and enhanced service for healthcare delivery, children, and vulnerable populations. As described below, NTIA will consider information related to the demographics, size, and scope of the populations to be served, as well as the capacity of and the training provided by the proposed centers. 3. Sustainable Broadband Adoption Applications for SBA projects should demonstrate a sustainable increase in demand for and subscribership to broadband services. Projects should meet a specific public need for broadband service, including, but not limited to, education, employment, economic development, and enhanced service for healthcare delivery, children, and vulnerable populations. Projects should describe the barriers to adoption in a given area, especially among vulnerable populations, and propose an innovative and persuasive solution to achieve increased adoption. Applicants might show how variations on one or 55 Recovery 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 PO 00000 Act Tit. I, 123 Stat. at 128. Frm 00014 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 more proven demand stimulation strategies—such as awareness-building, development of relevant content, and demand aggregation—would promote sustainable adoption. NTIA expects a high degree of verification that will demonstrate the effectiveness of various approaches to building sustainable broadband adoption, including market research and surveys. D. Contents of the Application 1. Comprehensive Community Infrastructure Applications A complete CCI application will include the elements listed below. As required by the Recovery Act, NTIA is required to make certain information about applications available in a publicly accessible database.56 Thus, NTIA will publicly display application elements containing such information on the applicant database at https:// www.broadbandusa.gov. See Section X.J. for a discussion of NTIA’s treatment of confidential materials. The following application elements will be publicly displayed on the applicant database: a. The identity of the applicant and general applicant and project information; b. An executive summary of the project; c. Information regarding the proposed funded service area; and d. The Federal grant request and cost match. The following elements will not be included in the publicly accessible applicant database: a. A description of the applicant’s nondiscrimination, interconnection, and network management plans; b. Details on local community involvement and partnerships with government, community, and community anchor institutions, and involvement of socially and economically disadvantaged small business concerns (SDB) as defined in Section III of this NOFA; c. A description of how the applicant will advance the objectives of the Recovery Act, as well as the specific objectives of BTOP; d. A description of the proposed service offerings, including the pricing of the services and information on available services in the area; 56 Specifically, NTIA is required to create an application database that includes at least a list of each entity that has applied for a BTOP grant, a description of each application, and the status of each application. Recovery Act sec. 6001(i)(5), 123 Stat. at 515. After award, NTIA is required to make certain additional information available about the grants (e.g., the name of each entity receiving funds, the purpose for which the entity is receiving funds, and the quarterly reports). Id. E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 e. Technical details of the proposed project; f. A timeline for the implementation of the project, including key milestones for implementation of the project, preparations, and risk factors; g. Information regarding the organization’s capacity and readiness; h. Details on the project budget and funding, including the level of need for Federal funding, details on other Federal funding received by the applicant, and information regarding matching funds; i. Pro forma financial analysis related to the sustainability of the project across an eight-year forecast period; j. Completion of the Environmental Questionnaire; and k. The following supplemental attachments as applicable: i. Historical financial statements and Certified Public Accountant (CPA) audits if applicable; ii. Proposed service offerings; iii. Competitor data; iv. Network diagram and system design; v. Maps of the proposed service areas; vi. Build out timeline; vii. Management team resumes and organization chart; viii. List of community anchor institutions; ix. Governance and key partnerships; x. Pro forma financial projections and subscriber estimates; and xi. Authorized Organization Representation and Compliance and Assurance Certification. 2. Public Computer Centers Applications A complete PCC application will include the elements listed below. As noted above, NTIA is required by the Recovery Act to make certain information about applications available in a publicly accessible database. Thus, NTIA will publicly display application elements containing such information on the applicant database at https:// www.broadbandusa.gov. See Section X.J. for a discussion of NTIA’s treatment of confidential materials. The following application elements will be publicly displayed on the applicant database: a. The identity of the applicant and general applicant and project information; b. An executive summary of the project; and c. The Federal grant request and cost match. The following elements will not be included in the publicly accessible applicant database: a. A description of how the applicant will advance the objectives of the VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 Recovery Act, as well as the specific objectives of BTOP; b. A summary of the viability of the project; c. Proposed budget and sustainability information; d. Completion of an environmental checklist or the Environmental Questionnaire; and e. The following supplemental attachments: i. Governance and key partnerships; ii. Historical financial statements, as applicable; iii. Public center detail; iv. Management team resumes and organization chart; v. SF–424 budget; vi. Detailed budget; and vii. Authorized Organization Representative and Compliance and Assurance Certification. 3. Sustainable Broadband Adoption Applications A complete SBA application will include the elements listed below. As noted above, NTIA is required by the Recovery Act to make certain information about applications available in a publicly accessible database. Thus, NTIA will publicly display application elements containing such information on the applicant database at https:// www.broadbandusa.gov. See Section X.J. for a discussion of NTIA’s treatment of confidential materials. The following elements will be publicly displayed on the applicant database: a. The identity of the applicant and general applicant and project information; b. An executive summary of the project; and c. The Federal grant request and cost match. The following elements will not be included in the publicly accessible applicant database: a. A description of how the applicant will advance the objectives of the Recovery Act, as well as the specific objectives of BTOP; b. A summary of the viability of the project; c. Proposed budget and sustainability information; d. Completion of an environmental checklist and applicable certifications; and e. The following supplemental attachments: i. Governance and key partnerships; ii. Historical financial statements, as applicable; iii. Management team resumes and organization chart; iv. SF–424 budget; PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 3805 v. Detailed budget; and vi. Authorized Organization Representative and Compliance and Assurance Certification. 4. Supplementary Information Requests for Due Diligence As discussed in Section II.C. above, those applications that are considered to be most highly qualified (i.e., receiving the highest scores) will advance to due diligence and will be processed with priority given to projects that best conform with the statutory purposes and program priorities described in Section II. In due diligence, applicants may be asked to submit additional information, as appropriate, to clarify or to further substantiate the representations made in their application and allow Federal staff to evaluate fully the proposed project with respect to the eligibility factors, general Program requirements, evaluation criteria, and selection factors specified in this NOFA. Due diligence applies to all three categories of projects. E. Filing Instructions Electronic submissions of applications will allow for the expeditious review of an applicant’s proposal consistent with the goals of the Recovery Act. As a result, all applicants are required to submit their applications electronically at https:// applyonline.broadbandusa.gov. The electronic application system will provide a date-and-time-stamped confirmation number that will serve as proof of submission. Please note that applications will not be accepted via paper, facsimile machine transmission, electronic mail, or other media format. Applicants, however, may request a waiver of these filing instructions pursuant to Section X.N. of this NOFA. F. Submission Dates and Times All applications for funding BTOP projects must be submitted between February 16, 2010, at 8 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) and March 15, 2010, at 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). G. Authorization As required by Section IX.C.5.a. of this NOFA, all applicants will be required to submit a certification by an Authorized Organization Representative at the time the application is submitted for filing. H. Material Representations The application, including all certifications and assurances, and all forms submitted as part of the application will be treated as a material E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 3806 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices representation of fact upon which NTIA will rely in awarding grants. I. Material Revisions An applicant shall not be permitted to make any material revision to its application after the submission deadline. NTIA may request or accept clarifications, revisions or submissions for completeness that are non-material. VII. Application Review Information A. Evaluation Criteria The evaluation criteria used by expert reviewers to review and analyze BTOP applications are grouped into four categories: (1) Project Purpose; (2) Project Benefits; (3) Project Viability; and (4) Project Budget and Sustainability. Each application will be evaluated against the following objective criteria, and not against other applications. 1. Comprehensive Community Infrastructure erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 a. Project Purpose (20 Points) i. Fit with Statutory Purposes. Applications will be evaluated with respect to each of BTOP’s statutory purposes.57 Reviewers will consider, relative to each purpose, whether the applicant is addressing a compelling problem of the sort that the statute is intended to resolve, whether the applicant has offered an effective solution to that problem, and whether the proposed solution is of broad significance and includes developments that can be replicated to improve future projects. Additional consideration also will be given to applicants that address more than one statutory purpose and project category (e.g., CCI, PCC, or SBA) in a convincing manner. Reviewers also will consider the ability of the project to enhance broadband service for healthcare delivery, education, and children as contemplated by the Recovery Act.58 ii. Fit with BTOP Priorities. Applications will be evaluated with respect to each of the BTOP Priorities and factors set forth in Section II.B. Reviewers will consider the priorities assigned for CCI projects, and additional 57 See Recovery Act sec. 6001(b), 123 Stat. at 512– 13 (stating the purposes of the program are to provide broadband access to unserved areas; to provide improved broadband access to underserved areas; to provide broadband access, education, and support to community anchor institutions, or organizations and agencies serving vulnerable populations, or job-creating strategic facilities located in State- or Federally-designated economic development areas; to improve access to, and use of, broadband service by public safety agencies; and to stimulate the demand for broadband, economic growth, and job creation). 58 See id. sec. 6001(h)(2)(C), 123 Stat. at 515. VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 consideration will be given for projects that satisfy more priorities. Additional consideration will be given to applicants satisfying the factors used to assess whether the application meets Program objectives. iii. Potential for Job Creation. The application will be scored on the project’s potential to create jobs, particularly jobs created directly by the project. Reviewers will assess the methodology used to calculate job estimates, the number and quality of the jobs created, and how the project balances job creation with cost efficiency. iv. Recovery Act and Other Governmental Collaboration. Applicants will be evaluated on their collaboration with Recovery Act or other State or Federal development programs that leverage the impact of the proposed project. Examples include the Department of Energy’s Smart Grid Investment Program, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Beacon Community Cooperative Agreement Program, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Public Housing Capital Fund, the Department of Transportation’s Capital Assistance for High Speed Rail Corridors and Intercity Passenger Service program, and other investments where collaboration would lead to greater project efficiencies. In each case, the applicant must convincingly demonstrate that these leveraging efforts are substantive and meaningful. v. Indian Tribes and Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Small Businesses. Reviewers will grant consideration to applicants that are Indian tribes or that certify that they meet the statutory definition of a socially and economically disadvantaged small business concern (as modified by the Small Business Administration’s approval of NTIA’s request to adopt an alternative small business concern size standard for use in BTOP), or that have established agreements to partner or contract with Indian tribes or socially and economically disadvantaged businesses.59 b. Project Benefits (20 Points) i. Level of Need in the Proposed Funded Service Area. Applications will be scored on the level of need for the proposed network in the proposed funded service area. Reviewers will consider whether there are service 59 15 U.S.C. 637(a)(4) (as modified by the Small Business Administration’s approval of NTIA’s request to adopt an alternative small business concern size standard for use in BTOP). PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 providers already present in all or part of the area, as well as the pricing, coverage, and available capacity of those providers. Reviewers also will consider what proportion of the projected end users are located in unserved or underserved areas and may take into account any comments submitted by existing broadband service providers in response to the announcement described in Section V.D.3.d. of this NOFA in making this evaluation. Reviewers may consider other details that are pertinent to determining the degree of need for the project in the area(s) (e.g., unemployment rates or median income levels). In addition, reviewers also will consider applicants’ explanation of why their proposed project is well-suited to address the needs of the proposed funded service area(s). ii. Impact on the Proposed Funded Service Area(s). Applications will be scored on how great an impact they would have on the proposed funded service area(s). Reviewers will consider the extent to which the proposed project will comprehensively meet, whether directly or indirectly, the key broadband needs of the communities within the proposed funded service area, particularly the need for Middle Mile capacity. This should include consideration of services for the community anchor institutions in the area(s), and access, transport, and wholesale services for other broadband service providers. Reviewers should give particular weight to services provided to community anchor institutions, especially those in unserved and underserved areas, as well as any community colleges within the proposed funded service area, whether or not they are located in unserved and underserved areas. Reviewers may take into account any comments submitted by existing broadband service providers in response to the announcement described in Section V.D.3.d. of this NOFA in making the evaluation of a proposed funded service area as unserved or underserved, as applicable. Reviewers also should consider the extent to which the project will provide, directly or indirectly, residential and business broadband services within the proposed funded service area(s). iii. Network Capacity and Performance. Applicants will be evaluated on the ability of the proposed network to provide sufficient capacity, as well as scalability, to meet the comprehensive needs of the communities in the proposed funded service area(s). The Middle Mile components of the network should provide capacity sufficient to serve the E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices anticipated Last Mile networks, community anchor institutions, and public safety entities, and the number of end users served by them, as projected by the applicant, taking into consideration the nature of the services for which these institutions and end users are likely to seek to utilize the network. Applications that include Last Mile components also will be evaluated on the extent to which the advertised speed for the network’s highest offered speed tier exceeds the minimum speed requirement for broadband service (768 kbps downstream and 200 kbps upstream). Networks with higher enduser speeds will receive greater consideration. Proposed networks with high latency will be viewed unfavorably. Applicants may gain additional consideration if the applicant can demonstrate a clear and affordable upgrade path for the network. iv. Affordability of Services Offered. Projects will be evaluated on the pricing of the services offered compared to existing broadband services in the proposed funded service area(s) or based on nationwide averages. Applicants should demonstrate that this pricing is competitive and affordable to their target markets. However, pricing levels also should be reasonable and market-based, so as to maximize the efficient use of Federal grant funds. v. Nondiscrimination, Interconnection, and Choice of Provider. Applications will be scored on the extent to which the applicant commits to exceeding the minimum requirements for interconnection and nondiscrimination established in Section V.D.3. of this NOFA. Additional consideration will be given for displaying the network’s nondiscrimination and interconnection policies in a prominent location on the service provider’s Web page, and providing notice to customers of changes to these policies. Additional consideration will be given to applicants that commit to offering wholesale access to network elements and project facilities at reasonable rates and terms. Additional consideration also will be given to applicants that commit to binding private arbitration of disputes concerning the awardees’ interconnection obligations as explained in Section V.D.3. of this NOFA. Reviewers also will consider whether the application proposes to construct infrastructure and implement a business plan that would allow more than one provider to serve end users in the proposed funded service area(s). Reviewers also may consider other factors to assess the degree of openness of the network. VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 c. Project Viability (30 Points) i. Technical Feasibility of the Proposed Project. Applications will be scored on the comprehensiveness and appropriateness of the technical solution and the clarity, level of detail, coherence, and cost-effectiveness of the system designs. ii. Applicant’s Organizational Capability. Reviewers will assess whether the applicant has the organizational capability necessary to undertake and complete the project. Reviewers will consider the years of experience and expertise of the project management team and the past track record of the organization with projects of a similar size and scope, as well as the organization’s capacity and readiness. iii. Level of Community Involvement in the Project. Reviewers will evaluate linkages to unaffiliated organizations in the project area (from the public, nonprofit, and private sectors), particularly community anchor institutions and public safety organizations, as an ongoing and integral part of the project planning and operation. Applicants should demonstrate that each linkage is substantial and meaningful. d. Project Budget and Sustainability (30 Points) i. Reasonableness of the Budget. Reviewers will evaluate the reasonableness of the budget based on its clarity, level of detail, comprehensiveness, appropriateness to the proposed technical and programmatic solutions, the reasonableness of its costs, and whether the allocation of funds is sufficient to complete the tasks outlined in the project plan. To the extent that a CCI project includes a Last Mile component, the cost per household or cost per subscriber should not exceed $10,000. Additional consideration will be given to applicants that present cost per household or cost per subscriber proposals below the $10,000 maximum based on a sliding scale. ii. Sustainability of the Project. Applicants must convincingly demonstrate the ability of the project to be sustained beyond the funding period. Reviewers will consider business plans, market projections, third-party funding commitments, and other data as may be appropriate to the nature of the applicant and the proposed project. iii. Leverage of Outside Resources. Reviewers will consider whether the applicant has demonstrated the ability to provide, from non-Federal sources, funds required to meet or exceed the 20 percent matching funds requirement PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 3807 unless a waiver of that requirement has been requested. Additional consideration will be given to applicants that provide a cost match of 30 percent or greater of the total eligible costs of a project. Reviewers also will evaluate whether the applicant has tailored the proportion of Federal funding to the level that is necessary to make the project economically feasible and sustainable. Reviewers will give additional consideration to proposals that provide cash matches. For purposes of this evaluation, applicants that have received a full or partial waiver of the cost-matching requirement will be treated as having provided a 20 percent non-cash match. 2. BTOP Public Computer Center Projects a. Project Purpose (20 Points) i. Fit with Statutory Purposes. Applications will be evaluated with respect to each of BTOP’s statutory purposes.60 Reviewers will consider, relative to each purpose, whether the applicant is addressing a compelling problem of the sort that the statute is intended to resolve, whether the applicant has offered an effective solution to that problem, and whether the proposed solution is of broad significance and includes developments that can be replicated to improve future projects. Additional consideration also will be given to applicants that address more than one statutory purpose and project category (e.g., CCI, PCC, or SBA) in a convincing manner. Reviewers also will consider the ability of the project to enhance broadband service for healthcare delivery, education, and children as contemplated by the Recovery Act.61 ii. Potential for Job Creation. The application will be scored on the project’s potential to create jobs, particularly for jobs created directly by the project. Reviewers will assess the methodology used to calculate job estimates, the number and quality of the jobs created, and how the project balances job creation with cost efficiency. 60 See Recovery Act sec. 6001(b), 123 Stat. at 512– 13 (stating the purposes of the program are to provide broadband access to unserved areas; to provide improved broadband access to underserved areas; to provide broadband access, education, and support to community anchor institutions, or organizations and agencies serving vulnerable populations, or job-creating strategic facilities located in State- or Federally-designated economic development areas; to improve access to, and use of, broadband service by public safety agencies; and to stimulate the demand for broadband, economic growth, and job creation). 61 See id. sec. 6001(h)(2)(C), 123 Stat. at 515. E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 3808 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices iii. Recovery Act and Other Governmental Collaboration. Applicants will be evaluated on their collaboration with Recovery Act or other State or Federal development programs that leverage the impact of the proposed project. Examples include the Department of Energy’s Smart Grid Investment Program, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Public Housing Capital Fund, and other investments where collaboration would lead to greater project efficiencies. In each case, the applicant must convincingly demonstrate that these leveraging efforts are substantive and meaningful. iv. Indian Tribes and Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Small Businesses. Reviewers will grant consideration to applicants that are Indian tribes or certify that they meet the statutory definition of a socially and economically disadvantaged small business concern (as modified by the Small Business Administration’s approval of NTIA’s request to adopt an alternative small business concern size standard for use in BTOP), or that have established agreements in principle to partner or contract with Indian tribes or such socially and economically disadvantaged businesses. erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 b. Project Benefits (20 Points) i. Availability to the Public. Applications will be scored on the availability of the computer center to the public. Reviewers will consider the capacity of the computer center, its hours of availability, any membership or usage fees charged, restrictions on usage, the proportionality of the computer center’s capacity and hours of availability to the population the applicant proposes to serve, public outreach, and the computer center’s accessibility to persons with disabilities, accounting for both the physical accessibility of the facility and the accessibility of the computer equipment and software. ii. Training and Educational Programs Offered. Applicants will be scored on the availability, accessibility, and quality of training and educational programs offered through the computer center. Reviewers will consider the degree to which the programs meet the documented needs of the community. iii. Availability and Qualifications of Consulting and Teaching Staff. Applications will be evaluated on the strength of the consulting and teaching staff at the computer center. Reviewers will consider the qualifications and training required of such staff as well as whether the number of available staff is VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 sufficient for the capacity of the computer center. iv. Projects in Community Colleges. Reviewers will grant consideration to applicants that will create computer centers in community colleges, especially where the applicant can demonstrate that such computer centers will deliver substantive benefits to the college’s core mission. c. Project Viability (30 Points) i. Technical Feasibility of the Proposed Project. Applications will be scored on the comprehensiveness and appropriateness of the technical solution and the clarity, level of detail, and coherence of the system designs. ii. Applicant’s Organizational Capability. Reviewers will assess whether the applicant has the organizational capability necessary to undertake and complete the project. Reviewers will consider the years of experience and expertise of the project management team, and the past track record of the organization with projects of a similar size and scope, as well as the organization’s capacity and readiness. iii. Level of Community Involvement in the Project. Reviewers will evaluate linkages to unaffiliated organizations in the project area (from the public, nonprofit, and private sectors), particularly community anchor institutions and public safety organizations, as an ongoing and integral part of the project planning and operation. Applicants should demonstrate that each linkage is substantial and meaningful. d. Project Budget and Sustainability (30 Points) i. Reasonableness of the Budget. Reviewers will evaluate the reasonableness of the budget based on its clarity, level of detail, comprehensiveness, appropriateness to the proposed technical and programmatic solutions, the reasonableness of its costs, and whether the allocation of funds is sufficient to complete the tasks outlined in the project plan. ii. Sustainability of the Project. Applicants must convincingly demonstrate the ability of the project to be sustained beyond the funding period. Reviewers will consider past performance of the applicant, community and institutional support for the project, third-party funding commitments, and other data as may be appropriate to the nature of the applicant and the proposed project. iii. Leverage of Outside Resources. Reviewers will consider whether the PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 applicant has demonstrated the ability to provide, from non-Federal sources, funds required to meet or exceed the 20 percent matching funds requirement unless a waiver of that requirement has been requested. Reviewers also will give additional consideration to proposals that provide cash matches. For purposes of this evaluation, applicants that have received a full or partial waiver of the cost-matching requirement will be treated as having provided a 20 percent non-cash match. 3. BTOP Sustainable Broadband Adoption Projects a. Project Purpose (20 Points) i. Fit with Statutory Purposes. Applications will be evaluated with respect to each of BTOP’s statutory purposes.62 Reviewers will consider, relative to each purpose, whether the applicant is addressing a compelling problem of the sort that the statute is intended to resolve, whether the applicant has offered an effective solution to that problem, and whether the proposed solution is of broad significance and includes developments that can be replicated to improve future projects. Additional consideration also will be given to applicants that address more than one statutory purpose and project category (e.g., CCI, PCC, or SBA) in a convincing manner. Reviewers will also consider the ability of the project to enhance broadband service for healthcare delivery, education, and children as contemplated by the Recovery Act.63 ii. Potential for Job Creation. The application will be scored on the project’s potential to create jobs, particularly jobs created directly by the project. Reviewers will assess the methodology used to calculate job estimates, the number and quality of the jobs created, and how the project balances job creation with cost efficiency. iii. Recovery Act and Other Governmental Collaboration. Applicants will be evaluated on their collaboration with Recovery Act or other State or Federal development programs that leverage the impact of the proposed 62 See Recovery Act sec. 6001(b), 123 Stat. at 512– 13 (stating the purposes of the program are to provide broadband access to unserved areas; to provide improved broadband access to underserved areas; to provide broadband access, education, and support to community anchor institutions, or organizations and agencies serving vulnerable populations, or job-creating strategic facilities located in State- or Federally-designated economic development areas; to improve access to, and use of, broadband service by public safety agencies; and to stimulate the demand for broadband, economic growth, and job creation). 63 See id. sec. 6001(h)(2)(C), 123 Stat. at 515. E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 project. Examples include the Department of Energy’s Smart Grid Investment Program, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Public Housing Capital Fund, the Department of Transportation’s Capital Assistance for High Speed Rail Corridors and Intercity Passenger Service program, and other investments where collaboration would lead to greater project efficiencies. In each case, the applicant must convincingly demonstrate that these leveraging efforts are substantive and meaningful. iv. Indian Tribes and Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Small Businesses. Reviewers will grant consideration to applicants that are Indian tribes or that certify that they meet the statutory definition of a socially and economically disadvantaged small business concern (as modified by the Small Business Administration’s approval of NTIA’s request to adopt an alternative small business concern size standard for use in BTOP), or that have established agreements in principle to partner or contract with Indian tribes or such socially and economically disadvantaged businesses. b. Project Benefits (20 Points) i. Number of New Subscribers. Applications will be scored on the number of new broadband subscribers and other regular users the project will generate. Reviewers will take into consideration both the overall number of new subscribers and users and the proportion that these new subscribers and users represent of the number of non-subscribers and non-users in the relevant area. Reviewers also will consider the applicant’s plan to effectively track and measure the benefits generated by the project. ii. Cost Per New User. Applications will be evaluated on the costeffectiveness of the program. Reviewers will consider the cost per projected new subscriber or other regular user, taking into account the applicant’s explanation of why the approach selected is a costeffective approach given the particular circumstances of the project. iii. Innovation. Applications will be evaluated on the degree to which the project demonstrates replicable new ideas, approaches, and methods to encourage sustainable broadband adoption. iv. Support for Vulnerable Populations. Reviewers will evaluate applications on their level of support for vulnerable populations. In this regard, reviewers will assess both the numbers of people in vulnerable populations likely to be affected by the project as VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 well as the steps that the applicant plans to take to engage and address the specific needs of those populations. c. Project Viability (30 Points) i. Operational Feasibility of the Proposed Project. Reviewers will assess the operational details of the project. Applicants will be scored on the clarity and detail of their project plan and how convincing the rationale behind the plan is. ii. Applicant’s Organizational Capability. Reviewers will assess whether the applicant has the organizational capability necessary to undertake and complete the project. Reviewers will consider the years of experience and expertise of the project management team and the past track record of the organization with projects of a similar size and scope, as well as the organization’s capacity and readiness. iii. Level of Community Involvement in the Project. Reviewers will evaluate linkages to unaffiliated organizations in the project area (from the public, nonprofit, and private sectors), particularly community anchor institutions and public safety organizations, as an ongoing and integral part of the project planning and operation. Applicants should demonstrate that each linkage is substantial and meaningful. d. Project Budget and Sustainability (30 Points) i. Reasonableness of the Budget. Reviewers will evaluate the reasonableness of the budget based on its clarity, level of detail, comprehensiveness, appropriateness to the proposed technical and programmatic solutions, the reasonableness of its costs, and whether the allocation of funds is sufficient to complete the tasks outlined in the project plan. ii. Sustainability of the Project Impact. Reviewers will consider whether the increases in broadband adoption rates in the project area caused by the project will be sustained beyond the conclusion of the project. iii. Leverage of Outside Resources. Reviewers will consider whether the applicant has demonstrated the ability to provide, from non-Federal sources, funds required to meet or exceed the 20 percent matching funds requirement unless a waiver of that requirement has been requested. Reviewers also will give additional consideration to proposals that provide cash matches. For purposes of this evaluation, applicants that have received a full or partial waiver of the cost-matching requirement will be PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 3809 treated as having provided a 20 percent non-cash match. VIII. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates NTIA intends to announce BTOP Round 2 awards on a rolling basis starting in June 2010. All grants will be awarded by September 30, 2010. IX. Award Administration Information A. Award Notices Applicants will be notified in writing by the Department of Commerce’s (DOC) Grants Officer if their application is selected for an award. The DOC’s Grants Officer notification will come from either the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), both of which function as Grants Offices for the BTOP Program. If the application is selected for funding, the DOC’s Grants Officer will issue the grant award (Form CD– 450), which is the authorizing financial assistance award document, either electronically if from NOAA or in writing if from NIST. By signing the Form CD–450, the awardee agrees to comply with all award provisions, terms, and conditions. The awardee must sign and return the Form CD–450 to NIST or submit the executed form to NOAA by electronic means without modification within 30 days of receipt. If an applicant is awarded funding, neither the DOC nor NTIA is under any obligation to provide any additional future funding in connection with that award or to make any future award(s). Amendment of an award or to extend the period of performance is at the discretion of the DOC and of NTIA. B. Administrative Requirements Administrative and national policy requirements for BTOP grant funding, inter alia, are contained in the PreAward Notification Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements (DOC Pre-Award Notification),64 as amended. All BTOP applicants are required to comply with all applicable provisions set forth in the DOC PreAward Notification. C. Award Terms and Conditions 1. Scope Awardees and subrecipients are required to comply with the obligations set forth in the Recovery Act and the requirements established herein. Any obligation that applies to the awardee 64 The DOC Pre-Award Notification was published in the Federal Register on February 11, 2008. 73 FR 7696. E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 3810 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices shall extend for the life of the awardfunded facilities. audit of an award may be conducted at any time.67 2. Sale or Lease of Project Assets 4. Broadband Data Collection a. Restriction on Assets The sale or lease of any portion of the award-funded broadband facilities or equipment during the life of the facilities or equipment is prohibited, except as provided herein. Nothing in this section is meant to limit CCI awardees from leasing facilities to another service provider for the provision of broadband services, nor is this section meant to restrict a transfer of control of the awardee.65 Awardees are required to comply with all applicable regulations regarding the disposition of real property and equipment.66 All CCI awardees that offer Internet access service to the public for a fee must agree to participate in the State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program pursuant to the BDIA and Section 6001(l) of the Recovery Act. erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 b. Petition for Waiver NTIA will consider a petition for waiver of the above restriction if: (a) The transaction is for adequate consideration; (b) the purchaser or lessee agrees to fulfill the terms and conditions relating to the project after such sale or lease; and (c) the transaction would be in the best interests of those served by the project. The petition for waiver may be submitted at any time during the life of the award-funded facilities and equipment, and it must include supporting documentation and justification regarding why the petition should be granted. 3. Access to Records for Audits, Site Visits, Monitoring, and Law Enforcement Purposes The Inspector General of the DOC, or any of his or her duly authorized representatives, and NTIA representatives, or any of their duly authorized representatives, shall have access to and the right to inspect the broadband system and any other property funded by the grant, any and all books, records, accounts, invoices, contracts, leases, payrolls, time sheets, canceled checks, statements, and other documents, papers, and records of the parties to a grant, including their subsidiaries, if any, whether written, printed, recorded, produced, or reproduced by any electronic, mechanical, magnetic, or other process or medium, in order to make audits, inspections, site visits, excerpts, transcripts, copies, or other examinations as authorized by law. An 65 Note that certain equipment is exempt from obligations to the Federal government and may be used and sold at the awardee’s will. See 15 CFR 14.34(g), 24.32. 66 See, e.g., 15 CFR 14.32–14.34; 15 CFR 24.31– 24.32. VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 5. Certifications a. The applicant must certify that he or she is the duly Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) and has been authorized to submit the application on its behalf. b. The AOR must certify that he or she has examined the application, that all of the information and responses in the application, including certifications, and forms submitted, all of which are part of the grant application, are material representations of fact and are true and correct to the best of his or her knowledge; that the entity(ies) that is requesting grant funding pursuant to this application as well as any subgrantees and subcontractors will comply with the terms, conditions, purposes, and Federal requirements of the grant program; that no kickbacks were paid to anyone; and that false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements or claims on this application are grounds for denial or termination of a grant award, and/or possible punishment by a fine or imprisonment as provided in 18 U.S.C. 1001 and civil violations of the False Claims Act. c. The AOR must certify that the entity(ies) he or she represents have and will comply with all applicable Federal, State, and local laws, rules, regulations, ordinances, codes, orders, and programmatic rules and requirements relating to the project. The AOR must acknowledge that failure to do so may result in rejection or deobligation of the grant or loan award. The AOR must acknowledge that failure to comply with all Federal and program rules could result in civil or criminal prosecution by the appropriate law enforcement authorities. d. The AOR must certify that the entity(ies) he or she represents has and will comply with all applicable administrative and Federal statutory, regulatory, and policy requirements set forth in the Department of Commerce 67 Note that Section 1515 of the Recovery Act also authorizes the Inspector General to examine records and interview officers and employees of the grantee and other entities regarding the award of funds. See Recovery Act sec. 1515, 123 Stat. at 289. PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 Pre-Award Notification; 68 the DOC Financial Assistance Standard Terms and Conditions; 69 the DOC American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Award Terms (April 9, 2009); 70 and any Special Award Terms and Conditions that are included by the Grants Officer in the award. e. The AOR must certify that any funds awarded to the entity(ies) he or she represents as a result of this application will not: (a) Result in any unjust enrichment as a result of support for non-recurring costs through another Federal program for service in the area that would be served by the project described in this application; (b) duplicate any funds such entity(ies) receive under Federal universal service support programs administered by the Universal Service Administration Corporation (USAC); or (c) duplicate any funds such entity(ies) receive through grant or loan programs administered by RUS. f. The AOR must certify that the entity(ies) he or she represent has secured access to pay at least 20 percent of the total project cost or has petitioned the Assistant Secretary for a waiver of the matching requirement. D. Reporting Requirements 1. General Recovery Act Requirements Any grant awarded under this NOFA shall be subject to the applicable statutes and regulations regarding reporting on Recovery Act funds.71 If Recovery Act funds are combined with other funds to fund or complete projects and activities, Recovery Act funds must be accounted for separately from other funds. Recipients of funds under this NOFA also must comply with the accounting requirements as established or referred to in this NOFA. For a complete list of the reporting requirements, see https:// www.FederalReporting.gov.72 68 See Department of Commerce Pre-Award Notification (Feb. 11, 2008) available at https://oam. ocs.doc.gov/docs/GRANTS/GCA_manual.pdf. 69 See Department of Commerce Financial Assistance Standard Terms and Conditions (Mar. 8, 2009) available at https://oamweb.osec.doc.gov/ docs/GRANTS/DOC%2OSTCsMAR08Rev.pdf. 70 See U.S. Department of Commerce American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Award Terms (Apr. 9, 2009) available at https://oam..ocs..doc.gov/docs/ ARRA%20DOC%20Award%20Terms%20Final% 205-20-09PDF.doc.pdf. 71 See, e.g., Recovery Act sec. 1512(c), 123 Stat. at 287; 2 CFR part 176; OMB, Interim Final Guidance for Federal Financial Assistance, 74 FR 18449 (Apr. 23, 2009); Implementing Guidance for Reports on Use of Funds Pursuant to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (OMB M– 09–21 June 22, 2009), available at https:// www.whitehouse.gov/omb/assets/ memoranda_fy2009/m09-21.pdf. 72 See infra Section X.V.1. E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices 2. BTOP-Specific Reporting Requirements In addition to the general Recovery Act reporting requirements, BTOP award recipients also must report to NTIA on the information requested below.73 The information requested will vary depending on the type of project being funded. Pursuant to the Recovery Act, NTIA will make these reports available to the public.74 erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 a. All BTOP Award Recipients All BTOP award recipients must report on: i. The progress in achieving the project goals, objectives, and milestones as set forth in their applications; ii. Expenditure of grant funds and the amount of remaining grant funds; and iii. The amount of non-Federal investment being added to complete the project. If a recipient is permitted by NTIA to complete its project after two years, then it must specifically state in the applicable quarter when it has met 67 percent of its milestones and received 67 percent of its award funds.75 Reaching these thresholds will indicate that the recipient has ‘‘substantially completed’’ its project consistent with the Recovery Act.76 b. Comprehensive Community Infrastructure Award Recipients Recipients receiving CCI grants must report on the following: i. The terms of any interconnection agreements entered into during the reporting period; ii. Any traffic exchange relationships (e.g., peering) and terms; iii. Any broadband equipment purchases; iv. The total and peak utilization of access links; v. The total and peak utilization of interconnection links to other networks; vi. Internet protocol address utilization and IPv6 implementation; vii. Any changes or updates to network management practices; viii. Any average end-user and Middle Mile megabit per second increases; ix. The total market potential for households, businesses, and community anchor institutions in the area served; x. The number of households and businesses passed, subscribing to broadband service, subscribing to new broadband service, and receiving improved access; xi. The number and type of community anchor institutions passed, 73 See id. sec. 6001(i)(1)–(2), 123 Stat. at 515. sec. 6001(i)(1), 123 Stat. at 515. 75 See supra Section V.D. 76 Recovery Act sec. 6001(d)(3), 123 Stat. at 513. 74 Id. VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 subscribing to broadband service, subscribing to new broadband service, and receiving improved access; xii. The advertised and averaged broadband speeds; xiii. The number of existing network miles deployed, new network miles deployed, and new network miles leased; xiv. For projects with a Middle Mile component, the ‘‘cost per mile,’’ ‘‘cost per household,’’ and, if applicable, ‘‘cost per tower’’ to offer broadband service; xv. For projects with a Last Mile component, the ‘‘cost per household’’ and ‘‘cost per subscriber’’ to offer broadband service; and xvi. The price of the broadband services. c. Public Computer Center Award Recipients Recipients receiving PCC grants must report on the following: i. The number of new and upgraded public computer centers; ii. The number of new and upgraded workstations available to the public; iii. The total hours of operation per week that the public computer center(s) is open; iv. The speed of broadband to the public computer center(s); v. The primary uses of the public computer center(s); vi. The average number of users per week in the public computer center(s); vii. The total hours per week of training provided at the public computer center(s); viii. The number and cost of any broadband equipment deployed; and ix. The total project cost per workstation. d. Sustainable Broadband Adoption Award Recipients Recipients receiving SBA grants must report on the following: i. The technology being fostered; ii. Efforts to aggregate demand for each location, including the role of the local community; iii. The increase in the number of households, businesses, and community anchor institutions subscribing to broadband service, and the methodology used to measure the increase; iv. The number and type of awareness campaigns provided, including the total number of individuals reached; v. The number and cost of any broadband customer premises equipment or end-user devices deployed; vi. The total market potential for households, businesses, and community anchor institutions in the area served; and PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 3811 vii. Other program elements as proposed by the applicant and agreed to by NTIA. 3. Reporting Deadlines All reports are due ten days after the quarter in which the award was issued ends and, unless otherwise noted, each quarter thereafter until a final report is made at the end of three years or sooner depending on when the project is completed. The final report should summarize the recipient’s quarterly filings and State whether the project’s goals have been satisfied. Pursuant to OMB Guidelines, Recovery Act reports should be submitted electronically to https://www.FederalReporting.gov. The BTOP-specific reports should be sent to NTIA. If the recipient fails to submit an acceptable quarterly report or audited financial statement within the timeframe designated in the grant award, NTIA may take appropriate actions, including suspension of payments, suspension of award, or termination.77 Additional information regarding reporting requirements will be specified at the time the award is issued. X. Other Information A. Funding Rounds This is the second of two announced funding rounds. NTIA does not anticipate further funding rounds, although it reserves the right to release a subsequent NOFA to ensure that all BTOP funds are awarded by September 30, 2010. B. Discretionary Awards The government is not obligated to make any award as a result of this announcement, and will fund only projects that are deemed likely to achieve the Program’s goals and for which funds are available. C. Third Party Beneficiaries BTOP is a discretionary grant program that is not intended to and does not create any rights enforceable by third party beneficiaries, except subrecipients or subcontractors. D. Limitation on Expenditures The Recovery Act imposes an additional limitation on the use of funds expended or obligated from appropriations made pursuant to its provisions. Specifically, for purposes of this NOFA, funds appropriated or otherwise made available under the Recovery Act may not be used by any State or local government, or any private 77 DOC E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM Grants Manual, ch. 11, sec. B. 22JAN2 3812 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices entity, for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, or swimming pool.78 erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 E. Recovery Act Logo All projects that are funded by the Recovery Act shall display signage that features the Primary Emblem throughout the construction phase. The signage should be displayed in a prominent location on site. Some exclusions may apply. The Primary Emblem should not be displayed at a size less than six inches in diameter. F. Environmental and National Historic Preservation Requirements Awarding agencies are required to analyze the potential environmental impacts, as required by the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), for applicant proposals and awardee projects seeking Recovery Act funding.79 All CCI applicants and PCC applicants with projects containing construction and/or ground disturbing activities are required to complete the Environmental Questionnaire in the application and to submit all other required environmental documentation as necessary. All PCC applicants with projects that do not contain construction and/or ground disturbing activities and all SBA applicants are required to complete the DOC Environmental Checklist in the application. It is the applicant’s responsibility to obtain all necessary Federal, State, and local governmental permits and approvals necessary for the proposed work to be conducted. Applicants are expected to design their projects so that they minimize the potential for adverse impacts on the environment. Applicants also will be required to cooperate with NTIA in identifying feasible measures to reduce or avoid any identified adverse environmental impacts of their proposed projects. The failure to do so may be grounds for not making an award. Applications will be reviewed to ensure that they contain sufficient information to allow agency staff to conduct a NEPA analysis so that appropriate NEPA documentation can be submitted to NTIA, along with the recommendation for funding of the selected applications. If additional information is required after an application is accepted for funding, funds can be withheld by NTIA under a special award condition requiring the awardee to submit 78 Id. sec. 1604, 123 Stat. at 303. addition, there are documents relating to NEPA and NHPA requirements that have been developed specifically for BTOP that are outlined more fully in the BTOP Grant Guidance. additional environmental compliance information sufficient for the agency to make an assessment of any impacts that a project may have on the environment. award these funds competitively to new or existing applicants. G. Davis-Bacon Wage Requirements Applicants are encouraged to identify and label any confidential and proprietary information contained in their applications. NTIA will protect confidential and proprietary information from public disclosure to the fullest extent authorized by applicable law, including the Freedom of Information Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. 552), the Trade Secrets Act, as amended (18 U.S.C. 1905), and the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (18 U.S.C. 1831 et seq.). Applicants should be aware, however, that the Recovery Act requires substantial transparency. For example, NTIA is required to make publicly available on the Internet a list of each entity that has applied for a grant, a description of each application, the status of each application, the name of each entity receiving funds, the purpose for which the entity is receiving the funds, each quarterly report, and other information regarding awardees.82 Pursuant to Section 1606 of the Recovery Act, any project using Recovery Act funds requires the payment of not less than the prevailing wages ‘‘at rates not less than those prevailing on projects of a character similar in the locality as determined by the Secretary of Labor,’’ in accordance with 40 U.S.C. 3142(b), for ‘‘all laborers and mechanics employed by contractors and subcontractors on projects funded directly by or assisted in whole or in part by and through the Federal Government.’’ 80 With respect to the labor standards specified in this section, the Secretary of Labor shall have the authority and functions set forth in Reorganization Plan Numbered 14 of 1950 (64 Stat. 1267; 5 U.S.C. App.) and Section 3145 of Title 40, United States Code. H. Financial and Audit Requirements To maximize the transparency and accountability of funds authorized under the Recovery Act, all applicants are required to comply with the applicable regulations set forth in OMB’s Interim Final Guidance for Federal Financial Assistance.81 Recipients that expend $500,000 or more of Federal funds during their fiscal year are required to submit an organization-wide financial and compliance audit report. The audit must be performed in accordance with the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s Government Auditing Standards, located at https:// www.gao.gov/govaud/ybk01.htm, and OMB Circular A–133, Audits of States, Local Governments, and Nonprofit Organizations, located at https:// www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars/ a133/a133.html . For-profit awardees must comply with the Program specific audit requirements set forth in OMB Circular A–133, Subpart B, § __.235. Awardees are responsible for ensuring that sub-recipient audit reports are received and for resolving any audit findings. I. Deobligation NTIA reserves the right to deobligate awards made under this NOFA to recipients that demonstrate an insufficient level of performance, or wasteful or fraudulent spending, and to J. Confidentiality of Applicant Information K. Policy on Sectarian Activities NTIA encourages applications from faith-based organizations. On December 22, 1995, NTIA issued a Notice in the Federal Register on its policy with regard to sectarian activities. Under NTIA’s policy, while religious activities cannot be the essential thrust of a grant, an application will be eligible for a grant under the Program where sectarian activities are only incidental or attenuated to the overall project purpose for which funding is requested.83 L. Disposition of Unsuccessful Applications Applications accepted for review for BTOP will be retained for two years, after which they will be destroyed. M. State Certifications With respect to funds made available under the Recovery Act to State or local governments for infrastructure investments, the governor, mayor, or other chief executive, as appropriate, must certify that the infrastructure investment has received the full review and vetting required by law and that the chief executive accepts responsibility that the infrastructure investment is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars. This certification must include a description of the investment, the estimated total cost, and the amount of funds to be 79 In VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 80 Recovery Act sec. 1606, 123 Stat. at 303. OMB, Interim Final Guidance for Federal Financial Assistance, 74 FR 18449. 81 See PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 82 See Recovery Act sec. 6001(i)(5), 123 Stat. at 515. 83 60 E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM FR 66491 (Dec. 22, 1995). 22JAN2 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices used, and must be posted on the recipient’s Web site and linked to https://www.recovery.gov. A State or local agency may not receive infrastructure investment funding from funds made available under the Recovery Act unless this certification is made and posted.84 N. Waiver Authority It is the general intent of NTIA not to waive any of the provisions set forth in this NOFA. However, under extraordinary circumstances and when it is in the best interest of the Federal government, NTIA, upon its own initiative or when requested by an applicant, may waive any of the provisions in this NOFA. Waivers may only be granted for requirements that are discretionary and not mandated by statute or other applicable law. Any request for a waiver must set forth the extraordinary circumstances for the request and be submitted with the application. With respect to requests for waiver of Section VI.E. (filing instructions), further information regarding the procedures for seeking such waivers will be made available in the Grant Guidance. erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 O. Compliance With Applicable Laws Any recipient of funds under this NOFA shall be required to comply with all applicable Federal and State laws, including but not limited to: (i) The nondiscrimination and equal employment opportunity requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq., 7 CFR pt. 15); (ii) Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. 794 et seq.; 7 CFR part 15b); (iii) the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended (42 U.S.C. 6101 et seq.; 45 CFR part 90); (iv) the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4151 et seq.); (v) the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) (Appendix A to 41 CFR subpart 101– 19.6); and (vi) the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of NEPA, and certain related Federal environmental laws, statutes, regulations, and Executive Orders found in 7 CFR part 1794. P. Communications Laws Awardees, and in particular, CCI awardees, will be required to comply with all applicable Federal and State communications laws and regulations as applicable, including, for example, the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (47 U.S.C. 151 et seq.); the Telecommunications Act of 1996, as amended (Pub. L. 104–104, 110 Stat. 56 (1996)); and the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (47 U.S.C. 1001 et seq.) (CALEA). For further information, see https:// www.fcc.gov. Q. Buy American Notice 1. General Prohibition and Waiver None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by the Recovery Act may be used for the construction, alteration, maintenance, or repair of a public building or public work (as such terms are defined in 2 CFR 176.140) unless all of the iron, steel, and manufacturing goods used in the project are produced in the United States.85 On July 1, 2009, the Department of Commerce published a notice in the Federal Register stating that the Secretary of Commerce had determined that applying the Buy American provision for the use of certain broadband equipment in public BTOP projects would be inconsistent with the public interest.86 As explained below, to the extent that an applicant wishes to use broadband equipment or goods that are not covered by the Secretary’s waiver, it may seek an additional waiver on a case-by-case basis as part of its application for Recovery Act funds. 2. OMB Buy American Notice Requirement Pursuant to OMB guidance on the Recovery Act,87 NTIA is required to provide notice as prescribed in 2 CFR 176.170. § 176.170 Notice of Required Use of American Iron, Steel, and Manufactured Goods (covered under International Agreements)—Section 1605 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. When requesting applications or proposals for Recovery Act programs or activities that may involve construction, alteration, maintenance, or repair of a public building or public work, and involve iron, steel, and/or manufactured goods covered under international agreements, the agency shall use the notice described in the following paragraphs in the solicitation: (a) Definitions. Designated country iron, steel, and/or manufactured goods, foreign iron, steel, and/or manufactured goods, manufactured goods, public 85 Id. 84 See Recovery Act sections 1511, 1526, 123 Stat. at 287, 293. VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 sec. 1605, 123 Stat. at 303. 74 FR 31402 (July 1, 2009). 87 See 2 CFR part 176. 86 See PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 3813 building and public work, and steel, as used in this provision, are defined in 2 CFR 176.160(a). (b) Requests for determinations of inapplicability. A prospective applicant requesting a determination regarding the inapplicability of Section 1605 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Pub. L. 111–5) (Recovery Act) should submit the request to the award official in time to allow a determination before submission of applications or proposals. The prospective applicant shall include the information and applicable supporting data required by 2 CFR 176.160(c) and (d) in the request. If an applicant has not requested a determination regarding the inapplicability of Section 1605 of the Recovery Act before submitting its application or proposal, or has not received a response to a previous request, the applicant shall include the information and supporting data in the application or proposal. (c) Evaluation of project proposals. If the Federal Government determines that an exception based on unreasonable cost of domestic iron, steel, and/or manufactured goods applies, the Federal Government will evaluate a project requesting exception to the requirements of Section 1605 of the Recovery Act by adding to the estimated total cost of the project 25 percent of the project cost if foreign iron, steel, or manufactured goods are used based on unreasonable cost of comparable domestic iron, steel, or manufactured goods. (d) Alternate project proposals. (1) When a project proposal includes foreign iron, steel, and/or manufactured goods, other than designated country iron, steel, and/or manufactured goods, that are not listed by the Federal Government in this Buy American notice in the request for applications or proposals, the applicant may submit an alternate proposal based on use of equivalent domestic or designated country iron, steel, and/or manufactured goods. (2) If an alternate proposal is submitted, the applicant shall submit a separate cost comparison table prepared in accordance with paragraphs 2 CFR 176.160(c) and (d) for the proposal that is based on the use of any foreign iron, steel, and/or manufactured goods for which the Federal Government has not yet determined an exception applies. (3) If the Federal Government determines that a particular exception requested in accordance with 2 CFR 176.160(b) does not apply, the Federal Government will evaluate only those proposals based on use of the equivalent domestic or designated country iron, E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 3814 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices steel, and/or manufactured goods, and the applicant shall be required to furnish such domestic or designated country items. R. Executive Order 12866 This notice has been determined to be ‘‘economically significant’’ under Executive Order 12866.88 The Recovery Act appropriates $4.7 billion to NTIA for broadband grants and other purposes. Awards must be made no later than September 30, 2010. In accordance with Executive Order 12866, NTIA updated its economic analysis, which was completed for the first round of funding and outlined the costs and benefits of implementing BTOP, to reflect the changes made to the Program for the second round of funding. The complete analyses are available from NTIA upon request. erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 S. Executive Order 13132 It has been determined that this notice does not contain policies with Federalism implications as that term is defined in Executive Order 13132.89 T. Administrative Procedure Act Statement This NOFA is being issued without advance rulemaking or public comment under the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946, as amended (5 U.S.C. 553) (APA). The APA has several exemptions to rulemaking requirements. Among them is an exemption for ‘‘good cause’’ found at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), which allows effective government action without rulemaking procedures where withholding the action would be ‘‘impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.’’ The DOC has determined, consistent with the APA, that making these funds available under this NOFA for broadband development, as mandated by the Recovery Act, is in the public interest. Given the emergency nature of the Recovery Act and the extremely short time period within which all funds must be obligated, withholding this NOFA to provide for public notice and comment would unduly delay the provision of benefits associated with these broadband initiatives and be contrary to the public interest. For the same reasons, NTIA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness for this action. Because notice and opportunity for comment are not required pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) or any other law, the analytical 88 Exec. Order No. 12,866, 58 FR 51735 (Sept. 30, 1993). 89 Exec. Order No. 13,132, 64 FR 43255 (Aug. 4, 1999). VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) are inapplicable. Therefore, a regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and has not been prepared. U. Congressional Review Act NTIA has submitted this NOFA to the Congress and the Government Accountability Office under the Congressional Review of Agency Rulemaking Act (Congressional Review Act), 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq. It has been determined that this NOFA is a ‘‘major action’’ within the meaning of the Act because it will result in an annual effect on the economy of $100,000,000 or more. This NOFA sets out the administrative procedures for making grants totaling approximately $2.6 billion to implement a nationwide broadband initiative to expand the reach and quality of broadband services in the United States. With funds made available through the Recovery Act, BTOP will provide a total of $4.7 billion through NTIA to provide broadband grants throughout the United States for unserved and underserved communities, to increase public computer center capacity, and to encourage sustainable adoption of broadband services. The Recovery Act provides that BTOP awards must be made no later than September 30, 2010. Moreover, projects funded under the Program must be substantially completed no later than two years following the date of issuance of the award. A 60-day delay in implementing this NOFA pursuant to the Congressional Review Act would hamper NTIA’s mission to provide expeditiously assistance to eligible entities to begin and complete projects within the statutory requirements of the Recovery Act. Thus, NTIA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 808(2) that prior notice and public procedure are impracticable, unnecessary, and contrary to the public interest. To the extent that NTIA provided a 60-day delay in effectiveness pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, NTIA would not be able to execute the statutory duties required by the Recovery Act in a timely manner. This finding is consistent with the objectives of the Recovery Act, which specifically provides clear preferences for rapid agency action and quick-start activities designed to spur job creation and economic benefit. Accordingly, this NOFA shall take effect upon publication in the Federal Register. PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 V. Paperwork Reduction Act 1. Reporting and Registration Requirement Under Section 1512(c) of the Recovery Act The Recovery Act requires the recipient of an award to complete projects or activities that are funded under the Recovery Act and to report on the use of Recovery Act funds provided through the award.90 Information from these reports will be made available to the public. The recipient shall submit its first report no later than 10 calendar days after the end of the initial calendar quarter in which the recipient receives the assistance award funded in whole or in part by the Recovery Act.91 Thereafter, the recipient shall submit reports no later than the tenth day after the end of each calendar quarter.92 The recipient and its sub-recipients must maintain current registrations in the CCR (https://www.ccr.gov) at all times during which they have active Federal awards funded with Recovery Act funds. A DUNS number is one of the requirements for registration in the CCR. The recipient shall report the information described in Section 1512(c) of the Recovery Act using the reporting instructions and data elements that will be provided online at https:// www.FederalReporting.gov unless the information is pre-populated. 2. NTIA’s Additional Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis Copies of all forms, regulations, and instructions referenced in this NOFA may be obtained from NTIA. Data furnished by the applicants will be used to determine eligibility for Program benefits. Furnishing the data is voluntary; however, the failure to provide data could result in Program benefits being withheld or denied. The collection of information is vital to NTIA to ensure compliance with the provisions of this NOFA and to fulfill the requirements of the Recovery Act. In summary, the collection of information is necessary in order to implement the Program. 90 Recipients who fail to submit reports pursuant to Section 1512(c) of the Recovery Act are considered to be non-compliant. Non-compliant recipients, including those who are persistently late or negligent in their reporting obligations, are subject to Federal action, up to and including the termination of Federal funding or the ability to receive Federal funds in the future. Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies re: Improving Compliance in Recovery Act Recipient Reporting (OMB M–10–05 November 30, 2009), available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/ omb/assets/memoranda_2010/m10-05.pdf. 91 Recovery Act sec. 1512(c), 123 Stat. at 287. 92 Id. E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices The following estimates are based on the average over the first three years the Program is in place. Comprehensive Community Infrastructure Estimate of Burden: Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 225 hours per response. Respondents: States, local governments, and any agency, subdivision, instrumentality, or political subdivision thereof; the District of Columbia; a territory or possession of the United States; an Indian tribe (as defined in Section 4 of the Indian SelfDetermination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 450b)); a native Hawaiian organization; a nonprofit foundation, a non-profit corporation, a non-profit institution, or a non-profit association; other nonprofit entities; for-profit corporations; limited liability companies; and cooperative or mutual organizations. Estimated Number of Respondents: 1,394. Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 1.27. Estimated Number of Responses: 1,770. Estimated Total Annual Burden (hours) on Respondents: 398,250. erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 Public Computer Center Estimate of Burden: Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 128 hours per response. Respondents: States, local governments, and any agency, subdivision, instrumentality, or political subdivision thereof; the District of Columbia; a territory or possession of the United States; an Indian tribe (as defined in Section 4 of the Indian SelfDetermination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 450b)); a native Hawaiian organization; a nonprofit foundation, a non-profit corporation, a non-profit institution, or a non-profit association; other nonprofit entities; for-profit corporations; limited liability companies; and cooperative or mutual organizations. Estimated Number of Respondents: 472. Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 1.23. Estimated Number of Responses: 581. Estimated Total Annual Burden (hours) on Respondents: 74,368. Sustainable Broadband Adoption Estimate of Burden: Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 151 hours per response. VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 Respondents: States, local governments, and any agency, subdivision, instrumentality, or political subdivision thereof; the District of Columbia; a territory or possession of the United States; an Indian tribe (as defined in Section 4 of the Indian SelfDetermination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 450b)); a native Hawaiian organization; a nonprofit foundation, a non-profit corporation, a non-profit institution, or a non-profit association; other nonprofit entities; for-profit corporations; limited liability companies; and cooperative or mutual organizations. Estimated Number of Respondents: 382. Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 1.4. Estimated Number of Responses: 535. Estimated Total Annual Burden (hours) on Respondents: 80,785. The grant application forms for BTOP CCI, PCC, and SBA projects and the subsequent data collection will be submitted to OMB for review under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. OMB control numbers will be assigned and published in separate Federal Register notices. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with a collection of information subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act unless that collection displays a currently valid OMB Control Number. W. Recovery Act Additional information about the Recovery Act is available at https:// www.Recovery.gov. X. Authorized Signatories Only authorized grant officers can bind the Government to the expenditure of funds. Appendix to Notice of Funds Availability—Broadband Technology Opportunities Program Policy Justification Streamlining the Application During the initial round of funding, applicants had a choice to complete a Broadband Infrastructure application, a Public Computer Center (PCC) application, or a Sustainable Broadband Adoption (SBA) application, depending on the type of project being proposed. Those applicants considered highly qualified after completing Step One of the review process were required to submit additional information during the Step Two ‘‘due diligence’’ review to substantiate the representations provided in the application.93 During the initial round of funding, some stakeholders, especially those 93 See PO 00000 74 FR at 33107. Frm 00025 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 3815 applicants completing the Broadband Infrastructure application, stated that completing the initial application was overly burdensome due to the type and amount of questions asked and the number of attachments required. RUS and NTIA tentatively concluded that the application process should be streamlined and invited public comment in the RFI.94 Commenters generally support the current two-step review process and the level of information and supporting documentation that NTIA requires.95 Only a small minority of commenters suggest doing away with the two-step review process in favor of a simplified one-step process modeled after NTIA’s Technologies Opportunities Program.96 Additionally, while a minority of commenters advocate increasing the information requirements of Step One in order to validate the legitimacy of applications,97 most commenters urge that NTIA require less information initially and defer the collection of supplementary budget and financial information until the Step Two due diligence review.98 Commenters also argue that applicants should not be required to obtain engineering certifications,99 environmental reviews,100 or antenna sites and backhaul facilities 101 until Step Two. To minimize the burden of the application and review process, commenters recommend that NTIA increase the amount of time available to applicants to submit due diligence materials.102 NTIA concludes that it will modify aspects of the two-step review process to collect the most essential information upfront in the application, with the option to collect additional data during the due diligence review, as needed. Commenters also offer numerous technical changes that would help streamline the application submission process during this round of funding. Commenters recommend that the Easygrants® System be tested for 94 See 74 FR 58940, 58941 (Nov. 16, 2009). e.g., RVW, Inc. at 1 (Nov. 30, 2009); Merit Network at 1 (Nov. 30, 2009); City of Grover Beach at 1 (Nov. 30, 2009); Nemont Tel. Coop. at 1 (Nov. 30, 2009). 96 See, e.g., Hous. Opportunities & Concepts at 1 (Nov. 25, 2009); Wireless Internet Serv. Providers Ass’n (WISPA) at 3–6 (Nov. 30, 2009). 97 See, e.g., Nemont Tel. Coop. at 1; Mont. Indep. Telecomms. Sys. at 3 (Nov. 30, 2009); Nat’l Rural Telecomms. Coop. & DigitalBridge Commc’ns at 2 (Nov. 30, 2009). 98 See, e.g., Fla.’s Heartland REDI at 1–2 (Nov. 30, 2009); Am. Library Ass’n at 5–6 (Nov. 30, 2009); Wis. Dep’t of Pub. Instruction at 2 (Nov. 30, 2009); Sch., Health, & Libraries Broadband Coal. at 8 (Nov. 30, 2009). 99 See, e.g., Commonwealth of Pa. at 1–3 (Nov. 25, 2009); WISPA at 3–6; E. Or. Telecom at 1 (Nov. 19, 2009). 100 See, e.g., Ctr. for Soc. Inclusion at 2 (Nov. 30, 2009); Rural Broadband Corp. at 11–13 (Nov. 30, 2009); Commonwealth of Pa. at 1–3. 101 See, e.g., Penasco Valley Tel. Coop. at 2 (Nov. 30, 2009). 102 See, e.g., Vantage Point Solutions at 10–11 (Nov. 30, 2009); Nat’l Educ. Broadband Serv. Ass’n at 3 (Nov. 30, 2009); Internet2 at 26–27 (Nov. 30, 2009); Rural Broadband Corp. at 6. 95 See, E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 3816 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 stability and usability 103 and modified to accept alternative documents, such as graphical project timelines.104 Multiple respondents advocate improving the mapping tool by creating separate versions for Last Mile and Middle Mile applications or by allowing applicants to submit mapping data in a number of different forms, including computer-aided design (CAD) or geographic information system (GIS) format.105 Commenters suggest achieving consistency between the application forms and guidance materials 106 and eliminating redundant questions, particularly those duplicating the Executive Summary requirements.107 Commenters also suggest that eliminating or altering a number of attachments, including the engineering certification 108 and financial documentation,109 would significantly improve the applicant experience. NTIA agrees with commenters that the application process can be more userfriendly. Accordingly, it makes numerous adjustments to the online application system to streamline the intake of information and reduce applicant burden. These steps include separating the BTOP infrastructure application from the BIP infrastructure application, consistent with the independent administration of the BIP and BTOP programs, separating the PCC application from the SBA application, as well as eliminating the requirement to use the mapping tool to create proposed funded service areas. NTIA also makes it easier for applicants filing applications in multiple project categories to link these applications in furtherance of NTIA’s focus on comprehensive communities. NTIA further simplifies the application requirements, including eliminating the submission of an engineering certification form with the initial application. A majority of the commenters advocate abandoning Census blocks in favor of other means of specifying proposed funded service areas.110 Commenting municipalities and cities unanimously express their dissatisfaction with the use of Census block data, citing it as a cumbersome method of reporting proposed funded service area 103 See, e.g., Tex. A&M at 1 (Nov. 29, 2009); City of Grover Beach at 1. 104 See, e.g., City of Seattle at 3 (Nov. 30, 2009); Penasco Valley Tel. Coop. at iv, 3; City of N.Y. at 3 (Nov. 30, 2009). 105 See, e.g., Rural Broadband Now! at 5 (Nov. 30, 2009); Nat’l Educ. Broadband Serv. Ass’n at 4 (Nov. 30, 2009); Mid-Rivers Commc’ns at 3–4 (Dec. 1, 2009). 106 See, e.g., Mass. Executive Office of Hous. and Econ. Dev. at 5 (Nov. 30, 2009); NATOA at 20 (Nov. 30, 2009). 107 See, e.g., FiberTower Corp. at 3–4 (Nov. 30, 2009); Cal. Broadband Coop. at 3 (Nov. 30, 2009). 108 See, e.g., Ass’n of Commc’ns Engineers at 1– 2 (Nov. 30, 2009); WHRO–TV at 1 (Nov. 30, 2009). 109 See, e.g., Hostos Cmty. Coll. at 1 (Nov. 30, 2009); City of Philadelphia at 4 (Nov. 30, 2009); Broadband Satellite Commenters at 10 (Nov. 30, 2009). 110 See, e.g., NCTH-Cleartalk at 1 (Nov. 21, 2009); Commonwealth of Pa. at 4; Satellite Indus. Ass’n at 4 (Nov. 30, 2009); New Am. Found. at 21 (Nov. 30, 2009). VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 designations.111 Multiple commenters offer zip codes, city boundaries, or even latitude and longitude coordinates as less burdensome alternatives for applicants.112 Several commenters propose using Census tract data as a less burdensome alternative to Census block data, in part because broadband service providers are already required to report their subscriber and demographic information according to Census tracts in order to file FCC Form 477.113 NTIA agrees with commenters that requiring applicants to provide proposed funded service areas by Census block data is overly burdensome, especially when applicants could use other methods to indicate these areas. In this funding round, NTIA will instead require applicants to indicate their proposed funded service area using Census block groups or Census tracts. Relationship Between BIP and BTOP Because the Recovery Act prohibits a project from receiving funding from NTIA in areas where RUS has funded a project, the First NOFA required applicants whose proposed funded service areas were at least 75 percent rural to submit infrastructure applications to RUS for consideration under BIP, with the option of additional consideration under BTOP. The First NOFA provided that NTIA would not fund such an application unless RUS had declined to fund it. In response to informal comments from stakeholders during the initial round of funding, the agencies’ RFI invited public comment on whether the agencies should continue to require that these kinds of rural infrastructure applications be submitted to RUS first or whether the agencies should permit applicants to file largely rural applications directly to NTIA without also having to submit them to RUS.114 The majority of commenters agree that rural applicants should be permitted to apply directly to NTIA for BTOP grants without being required first to apply to RUS for BIP loans or grants.115 The most widely cited rationale was the needless burden imposed on applicants to provide the additional financial analysis required by the RUS loan application for rural projects that do not qualify as remote and unserved or are not viable with only 50 percent grant funding.116 Commenters also cite the inefficiency of requiring RUS to review proposals that are not even viable for BIP.117 A majority of commenters favor the continued use of a common BIP–BTOP application to avoid the duplicative effort of 111 See, e.g., Montgomery County at 2 (Nov. 30, 2009); Oakland County at 1 (Nov. 30, 2009); City of N.Y. at 2; City of San Francisco at 3 (Nov. 30, 2009). 112 See, e.g., Open Range Commc’ns at 4 (Nov. 30, 2009); Ctr. of Soc. Inclusion at 2; Harris Corp at iii (Nov. 30, 2009). 113 See, e.g., John Staurulakis, Inc. at 14 (Nov. 30, 2009); Rural Broadband Corp. at 7. 114 See 74 FR at 58941. 115 See, e.g., Mass. Executive Office of Hous. and Econ. Dev. at 3–4; Am. Library Ass’n at 7. 116 See, e.g., TCA at 1–2 (Nov. 30, 2009). 117 See, e.g., XO Commc’ns at 2 (Nov. 30, 2009); TCA at 1–2. PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 completing multiple applications.118 A few of these commenters favor maintaining the approach taken in the initial round of funding that required concurrent joint applications and reserving to RUS the first option to fund eligible proposals.119 The chief benefit adduced in support of this position is RUS’s expertise in evaluating rural applications so as to avoid redundant awards to ‘‘active’’ RUS borrowers.120 Commenters further recommend that the agencies implement a ‘‘check box’’ by which an applicant may request immediate consideration by NTIA because its rural project requires more than a 50 percent grant to be viable or seeks to address one of NTIA’s broadband objectives 121 and allow applicants to produce only one financial analysis to demonstrate an ability to support either a 50 percent contribution (as required for BIP) or a 20 percent contribution (as required for BTOP) to a project.122 In this funding round, RUS and NTIA conclude that applicants that are eligible for both BIP and BTOP have the option to apply to either agency for funding for the same project, but applicants should apply to only one agency for a given project. Applicants who are current RUS borrowers or grantees, applicants who are proposing a Last Mile service area that is 75 percent or more rural, or applicants whose Last Mile component (to residential consumers and non-community anchor institutions) exceeds 20 percent of total eligible project costs are strongly encouraged to apply to RUS for funding under BIP. Mindful of the statutory prohibition against duplicative funding, several parties suggest that RUS and NTIA might coordinate their funding determinations to leverage Federal resources most efficiently and effectively by having NTIA fund only grants and RUS fund only loans for rural projects; 123 awarding preference for BIP loans to applicants that apply to RUS first; 124 considering projects that are 75 percent rural for BTOP grant-only financing to leverage existing infrastructure and cooperative relationships (e.g., wireless network via rural electric cooperative); 125 and avoiding the appearance of duplicative funding by not funding in areas where BIP loans are active or have been recently approved.126 NTIA is in accord with the views of commenters who point out that the agencies are statutorily prohibited from funding 118 See, e.g., Tex. Statewide Tel. Coop. at 5 (Nov. 25, 2009). 119 See, e.g., Vantage Point Solutions at 5–7; Rural Cmty. Assistance P’ship at 2 (Nov. 19, 2009); RVW Inc. at 2; Mid-Rivers Commc’ns at 6–7 (Dec. 1, 2009); S.D. Telecomms. Ass’n at 5, 11 (Nov. 30, 2009). 120 See, e.g., Mid-Rivers Commc’ns at 6. 121 See, e.g., Nat’l Rural Telecomms. Coop. & DigitalBridge Commc’ns Corp. at 6–7 (Nov. 30, 2009). 122 See, e.g., John Staurulakis, Inc. at 18; TCA at 1–2. 123 See, e.g., E. Shore of Va. Broadband Auth. at 2 (Nov. 30, 2009). 124 See, e.g., Penasco Valley Tel. Coop. at 5. 125 See, e.g., TransWorld Network at 3 (Nov. 24, 2009). 126 See, e.g., Mid-Rivers Commc’ns at 6. E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices projects in the same area and that such duplicative funding would be wasteful and inconsistent with the objectives of the Recovery Act. Thus, as in the first funding round, RUS and NTIA will not fund infrastructure projects in the same service area. The agencies will coordinate to identify potential service area overlaps and will resolve such conflicts in the manner that best satisfies the statutory objectives of both programs. Transparency and Confidentiality Consistent with the Administration’s policy and the Recovery Act’s objective to ensure greater transparency in government operations, RUS and NTIA invited public comment on whether the agencies should permit greater access, consistent with applicable Federal laws and regulations, to certain applicant information by other applicants, policymakers, and the public, including State and tribal governments.127 In the RFI, the agencies tentatively concluded that the application’s Executive Summary should be made publicly available in this round of funding.128 The overwhelming majority of commenters support the RFI’s tentative recommendation to make the Executive Summary available to the public, but differ as to how much applicant information should be made public.129 The majority of these commenters recommend that applicants be permitted to designate trade secrets, financial projections, and other proprietary information as confidential.130 The majority of commenters caution, however, that should confidentiality protections not be provided, applicants would hold back critical information needed for an adequate review of the applications.131 A minority of commenters support making the entire application public and available online without confidentiality protections.132 Some States propose a compromise position whereby NTIA would publish expanded Executive Summaries disclosing pertinent facts (targeted area, type of technology used, project cost and revenue projections) and withhold only proprietary or patented technology from public disclosure.133 NTIA agrees with commenters who advocate more transparency throughout the application and evaluation processes. During this funding round, NTIA will post an announcement identifying each infrastructure application received, along with a list of the Census block groups or tracts that each application proposes to serve through its project, in addition to the information it is required to publicly disclose pursuant to the Recovery Act. States advocate full access to entire applications, including mapping data, for erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 127 See 74 FR at 58942. 128 Id. 129 See, e.g., Stratum Broadband at 8 (Nov. 14, 2009). 130 See, e.g., Fairpoint Commc’ns at 5 (Nov. 30, 2009). 131 See, e.g., Nat’l Rural Telecomms. Coop. and DigitalBridge Commc’ns Corp. at 8. 132 See, e.g., New Am. Found. at 8. 133 See, e.g., Commonwealth of Pa. at 5. VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 purposes of State consultation.134 Similarly, tribal commenters recommend that, due to historic preservation and tribal sovereignty concerns, NTIA and RUS timely alert relevant tribes about applications that propose to serve their tribal lands.135 In addition, several commenters contend that transparency should extend to the public notice comment and State consultation processes by making comments from existing service providers and State and tribal entities public.136 NTIA is sensitive to the needs of States and tribes when reviewing applications that propose to serve areas within their jurisdictions. NTIA will share with each relevant State and tribe applicants’ data that are available on the publicly searchable database. Additional information may be requested directly from applicants by each State or tribe. In addition, NTIA will make the comments of the States and tribes available on the publicly searchable database, with the exception of any confidential information that the comments may contain. NTIA also will make certain information submitted by existing broadband service providers publicly available as part of the announcement process for applicants’ proposed funded service areas. Funding Priorities and Comprehensive Communities During the initial round of funding, RUS and NTIA allocated a total of $4 billion in funding for various project categories, including Last Mile infrastructure, Middle Mile infrastructure, Public Computer Center, and Sustainable Broadband Adoption projects. In response to numerous suggestions concerning how the NOFA could be modified to ensure that Recovery Act funds make the greatest possible impact, the agencies’ RFI invited commenters to provide quantitative estimates of the projected benefits of adopting a more targeted funding approach during this round of funding.137 NTIA and RUS also expressly requested comment on whether the agencies should focus on or limit funding to projects that will deliver Middle Mile infrastructure facilities into a group of communities and connect key anchor institutions within those communities.138 Approximately one-third of commenters who address the funding priorities section of the RFI recommend targeting community anchor institutions for special consideration in this round of funding.139 These commenters suggest that certain institutions, 134 See, e.g., Nat’l Ass’n of State Chief Info. Officers at 2 (Nov. 30, 2009). 135 See, e.g., Forest County Potawatomi at 2 (Nov. 30, 2009). 136 See, e.g., Motorola at 6 (Nov. 30, 2009); Rural Broadband Now! at 8. 137 See 74 FR at 58942. 138 Id. 139 See, e.g., The Bill & Melinda Gates Found. at 1–2 (Nov. 30, 2009); Media Alliance at 2 (Nov. 25, 2009); Pub. Broad. Serv. at 1–5 (Nov. 30, 2009); Mass. Executive Office of Hous. and Econ. Dev. at 6; Mid Am. Reg’l Council at 2; Corp. for Educ. Initiatives in Cal. at 1 (Nov. 28, 2009); Am. Library Ass’n at 3. PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 3817 such as public safety agencies,140 educational institutions,141 and health service providers,142 should receive greater funding priority in order to reflect their impact on economic development and their greater need for or use of broadband services. Many commenters advocating more targeted funding for community anchor institutions suggest that they should not need to meet the unserved/underserved criteria in order to qualify for funding.143 One commenter suggests an entirely separate application track for community anchor institutions.144 Supporters of this targeted funding approach agree that any definition of community anchor institutions should include K–12 schools,145 libraries,146 higher education facilities,147 and healthcare facilities.148 In addition to these entities, which were explicitly noted as priorities in the NOFA for the initial round of funding, some commenters suggest that NTIA use a more expansive definition of community anchor institution that encompasses public access media, performance spaces, and other community organizations.149 Commenters also suggest focusing increased funding to small businesses 150 and public housing.151 A handful of organizations disagree that any one application type should be explicitly targeted for funding, even if it proposes to connect community anchor institutions or serve a ‘‘vulnerable’’ population.152 In particular, these dissenting commenters advance the opinion that while community anchor institutions should be eligible for funding, they are not necessarily any more meritorious than other eligible entities.153 NTIA agrees with commenters that stress the importance of connecting broadband to community anchor institutions. Schools, 140 See, e.g., Motorola at 8–9; Mass. Executive Office of Hous. and Econ. Dev. at 6–7. 141 See, e.g., Nat’l Educ. Broadband Serv. Ass’n at 11; Corp. for Educ. Initiatives in Cal. at 1. 142 See, e.g., Mayo Clinic at 3 (Nov. 24, 2009). 143 See, e.g., City of N.Y. at 2, City of Philadelphia at 4–6 (Nov. 30, 2009); Sch., Health, & Libraries Broadband Coal. at 18. 144 See, e.g., The Bill & Melinda Gates Found. at 1. 145 See, e.g., Hot Springs Greater Learning Found. at 3 (Nov. 30, 2009); The Bill & Melinda Gates Found. at 1; Corp. for Educ. Initiatives in Cal. at 1. 146 See, e.g., The Bill & Melinda Gates Found. at 1; Corp. for Educ. Initiatives in Cal. at 1; Am. Library Ass’n at 3; Nat’l Educ. Broadband Serv. Ass’n at 5–6. 147 See, e.g., Hot Springs Greater Learning Found. at 2; The Bill & Melinda Gates Found. at 1; Nat’l Rural Telecomms. Coop. & DigitalBridge Commc’ns Corp. at 9. 148 See, e.g., Mayo Clinic at 2; Univ. of Cal. Davis Med. Sys. at 2 (Nov. 30, 2009); Wash. State Law and Justice Org. at 3. 149 See, e.g., Media Alliance at 2; Pub. Broad. Serv. at 1–5; Corp. for Educ. Initiatives in Cal. at 1. 150 See, e.g., Towerstream at 3–4 (Nov. 30, 2009); Asian Am. Justice Ctr., League of United Latin Am. Citizens, Minority Media & Telecomms. Council, Nat’l Urban League & One Econ. Corp. at 5 (Nov. 30, 2009). 151 See, e.g., One Econ. Corp. at 4. 152 See, e.g., Towerstream at 2; Open Range Commc’ns at 6; Utopian Wireless at 7. 153 See, e.g., Towerstream at 2; Telecom Transp. Mgmt. at 7; Internet2 at 24–25. E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 3818 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices libraries, colleges and universities, medical and healthcare providers, public safety entities, and other community support organizations increasingly rely on Internet connectivity to serve their constituencies and their communities. Expanding broadband capabilities for community anchor institutions will result in substantial benefits for the entire community, delivering improved education, healthcare, and economic development. Broadband connections to these facilities will not only enhance their services and effectiveness, but can also provide potential points of interconnection for Last Mile service directly to homes and businesses. For these reasons, NTIA focuses funding in this NOFA towards projects that connect community anchor institutions. To leverage connections to community anchor institutions, a number of commenters explicitly support the prioritization of Comprehensive Communities.154 Many supporters of a Middle Mile comprehensive community priority in this round of funding suggest that Middle Mile funding should be contingent upon a commitment from a Last Mile provider.155 A smaller handful of commenters note that cooperation among Middle Mile and Last Mile providers should be encouraged but not required.156 In opposition, some commenters argue that it may be too onerous for community anchor institutions such as schools and hospitals to obtain a Last Mile commitment.157 The minority of commenters who voice skepticism towards a Comprehensive Community approach to funding worry about the threat a Middle Mile priority would pose to the funding of Last Mile projects.158 In addition to the relationship between Middle Mile and Last Mile projects, many commenters oppose the creation of set-asides for one type of application.159 NTIA agrees with commenters that support targeting the funding available in this round towards comprehensive communities with an emphasis on projects that emphasize Middle Mile broadband capabilities. Preliminary findings by the FCC’s National Broadband Plan Task Force indicate that broadband service in unserved and underserved areas of the United States is limited due to insufficient capacity and to significantly higher costs of deploying Middle Mile services in some areas.160 NTIA finds that the cost of Middle Mile service, particularly in erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 154 See, e.g., Sch., Health, & Libraries Coal. at 15; Am. Library Ass’n at 8; Corp. for Educ. Initiatives in Cal. at 1. 155 See, e.g., S. C. Broadband Coal. at 3 (Nov. 30, 2009); Mayo Clinic at 3; Univ. of Cal. Davis Med. Sys. at 2. 156 See, e.g., The Bill & Melinda Gates Found. at 5; Mass. Executive Office of Hous. and Econ. Dev. at 7. 157 See, e.g., Sch., Health, & Libraries Broadband Coal. at 17; Am. Library Ass’n at 8. 158 See, e.g., Nat’l Telecomms. Coop. Ass’n at 4 (Nov. 30, 2009); Mont. Indep. Telecomms. Sys. at 4; Nat’l Pub. Broadband at 1 (Nov. 25, 2009); City of N.Y. at 4–5. 159 See, e.g., Commonwealth of Pa. at 9; RVW, Inc at 2. 160 FCC Identifies Critical Gaps in Path to Future Universal Broadband, News Release (Nov. 18, 2009). VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 unserved and underserved areas, stifles broadband expansion for those that need it most. Insufficient Middle Mile broadband service not only limits the availability and affordability of end-user broadband connectivity for consumers and businesses, but it also diminishes the effectiveness of community anchor institutions in fulfilling their missions.161 For these reasons, NTIA seeks to focus on these types of projects by adopting a ‘‘comprehensive communities’’ approach to awarding BTOP infrastructure grants, which prioritizes Middle Mile projects integrated with community anchor institutions, including community colleges, or Last Mile service providers as a means of maximizing the leverage of taxpayer investments. Commenters put forth a number of key criteria that NTIA should consider in its evaluation of Comprehensive Community projects, including cost effectiveness,162 technology approaches,163 the size of the matching funds,164 and support from community anchor institutions.165 Most commenters suggest evaluating projects based on the extent to which the applicant proposes to connect institutions that serve a vulnerable population group,166 such as a historically black university or an institution serving primarily to Hispanic groups.167 A smaller number of commenters suggest that NTIA evaluate the number of community anchor institutions connected by the project.168 The proposal to use sustainability and public-private partnerships as potential criteria for evaluating Comprehensive Communities did not receive much support.169 NTIA agrees with many of the criteria suggested by commenters to evaluate Comprehensive Community Infrastructure projects. Evaluation criteria in this funding round will prioritize applications that include a Middle Mile component and demonstrate commitments to serve community anchor institutions, including community colleges, and incorporate publicprivate partnerships and public safety entities, along with the other project priorities and additional factors that are set forth in Section II. of this NOFA. 161 See, e.g., The Bill & Melinda Gates Found. at 6–7 (public libraries); May Clinic at 3 (telemedicine); Motorola at 8–9 (public safety). 162 See, e.g., NTCH-Cleartalk at 1; Spacenet, Inc. at 6 (Nov. 30, 2009); Rural Broadband Now! at 6– 7. 163 See, e.g., NATOA at 12 (Nov. 30, 2009). 164 See, e.g., Inst. for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) at 3 (Nov. 30, 2009). 165 See, e.g., Forest County Potawatomi at 3. 166 See, e.g., CBN Connect at 2; City of San Francisco at 3; The Bill & Melinda Gates Found. at 2. 167 See, e.g., Asian Am. Justice Ctr., League of United Latin Am. Citizens, Minority Media and Telecomms. Council, Nat’l Urban League, and One Econ. Group at 5–6. 168 See, e.g., City of San Francisco at 3; The Bill & Melinda Gates Found. at 2; Corp. for Educ. Initiatives in Cal. at 1. 169 But see, e.g., Stratum Broadband at 12. PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 Program Definitions—‘‘Unserved’’ and ‘‘Underserved’’ More than seventy commenters offer suggestions for clarifying the definitions of ‘‘unserved’’ and ‘‘underserved’’ used in the First NOFA. Many of these commenters contend that the current definitions are too restrictive and recommend that NTIA craft a broader standard.170 A common concern among these commenters is that the current broadband penetration thresholds included in the definitions exclude many worthy projects located in urban areas.171 A substantial number of commenters advocate applying the definitions of ‘‘unserved’’ and ‘‘underserved’’ differently to different types of applicants.172 Several commenters request that community anchor institutions 173 and projects that propose to serve vulnerable communities,174 no matter where they are located, be exempt from having to meet the unserved or underserved definitions. A few commenters suggest that NTIA use different definitions depending on whether an applicant applies as an Infrastructure, PCC, or SBA project.175 Several commenters recommend that the socioeconomic status of an area be considered in determining whether that area is unserved or underserved. Specifically, several commenters express concern with using Census blocks to define an unserved or underserved area in the previous round and recommend that NTIA require applicants to use socioeconomic and demographic data instead to identify unserved and underserved areas.176 Many commenters also suggest that the underserved and unserved definitions consider the effects of poverty on adoption, especially as it relates to the affordability of broadband in an area, and evaluate projects that propose to address these adoption barriers more positively.177 Finally, several commenters suggest that NTIA use actual guaranteed speeds as opposed to advertised speeds to determine whether an area is considered underserved.178 Commenters are divided 170 See, e.g., City of N.Y. at 7; New Am. Found. at 20–21; Telecomms. Indus. Ass’n at 8 (Nov. 30, 2009); San Jose Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at 2 (Nov. 30, 2009); City of Chicago at 7; Broadband Satellite Commenters at 15 (Nov. 30, 2009); Nat’l Rural Telecomms. Coop. & DigitalBridge Commc’ns Corp. at 11. 171 See, generally, E. Or. Telecom at 2; N.Y. State Ass’n of Counties at 2 (Nov. 30, 2009); City of N.Y. at 2. 172 See, e.g., Towerstream at 3–4; City of N.Y. at 2; San Jose Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at 2; FiberTower Corp. at 8–9. 173 See, e.g., New Am. Found. at 10; Telecomms. Indus. Ass’n at 14; Am. Library Ass’n at 15. 174 See, e.g., San Jose Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at 3; Digital Impact Group at 2; Trace Ctr., Univ. of Wis. at 1–3; Broadband for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing at 4. 175 See, e.g., Digital Impact Group at 2; State of Mich. at 11; City of Phoenix at 3. 176 See, e.g., Montgomery County, Md. at 2–3; NATOA at 6–7; Mid Am. Reg’l Council at 1. 177 See, e.g., Cricket Commc’ns at 7–8; Cmtys. Connect Network at 1–2; City of Philadelphia at 6–7. 178 See, e.g., Flow Mobile at 12; City of Seattle at 9–11; Inst. for Local Self-Reliance at 4; City of Portland, Or. at 2; City of Houston at 3; Wireless E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices whether NTIA should eliminate the provision that defined a service area as underserved or unserved if certain broadband speeds were unavailable, with some commenters recommending that speed be eliminated as a criterion,179 but many more recommending that available speeds remain a focus for defining unserved and underserved areas.180 NTIA disagrees with commenters in a variety of respects. The First NOFA provided very specific definitions of what constitutes an unserved and underserved area for BTOP purposes. In NTIA’s review of applications submitted by private companies, community anchor institutions, and other stakeholders in the first funding round, NTIA does not believe that its definitions proved to be overly restrictive or hindered applicants from applying. Additionally, NTIA finds that, for purposes of consistency between the two rounds of funding as well as between BTOP and the Broadband Mapping Program, the definitions of unserved and underserved should remain largely unchanged. NTIA has, however, removed the requirement that infrastructure projects connecting community anchor institutions, including community colleges, must be located in unserved or underserved areas. The Comprehensive Community Infrastructure project category will consider whether a proposed funded service area is unserved or underserved as an additional factor giving an application more priority in scoring. For all of these reasons, NTIA decides against substantially revising its definitions of unserved and underserved. erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 Announcement of Applicants’ Proposed Funded Service Areas The First NOFA allowed existing broadband service providers an opportunity to comment on an applicant’s assertions that its proposed funded service areas are unserved or underserved.181 During the initial round of funding, some stakeholders suggested that this rule may reduce incentives for applicants to participate in BIP and BTOP because of the risk that their applications may be disqualified from funding on the basis of information submitted by existing broadband service providers that they have no means to substantiate or rebut. The RFI sought comment on whether alternative verification methods could be established that would be fairer to both applicants and challengers, what type of information should be collected from the entity questioning the service area, and what information should be subject to public disclosure.182 Numerous commenters request a more transparent and defined process in which the agencies describe the procedures and criteria used to determine whether an applicant’s Commc’ns Ass’n Int’l at 5–8; NATOA at 10–11; City of Tacoma at 3; E. Shore of Va. Broadband Auth. at 3. 179 See, e.g., Commonwealth of Pa. at 13; Wireless Internet Serv. Providers at 13. 180 See, e.g., Flow Mobile at 12; City of Seattle at 6–7; Am. Cable Ass’n at 13–14; E. Shore of Va. Broadband Auth. at 3; Alcatel Lucent at 2–3. 181 74 FR at 33122. 182 See 74 FR at 58943–44. VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 proposed funded service area is unserved or underserved and make data submitted during the announcement process available to the public.183 Further, to assuage concern that an application may be disqualified from funding based on information submitted during the announcement process, many respondents suggest that applicants be provided an opportunity to review and rebut the comments that existing broadband service providers submit.184 In addition, many commenters suggest that data should be collected from a number of sources before NTIA renders a final determination as to whether broadband is already available, such as FCC Form 477 data.185 Commenters also provide suggestions as to what type of information should be gathered from existing broadband service providers seeking to submit comments. Commenters overwhelmingly urge NTIA to require that broadband service providers demonstrate that available broadband claims are based on actual speed 186 and coverage,187 which is independently verifiable and not simply as advertised.188 Further, a majority of commenters request that incumbents provide detail at the Census block level corresponding with the application.189 Some respondents propose that NTIA require existing broadband service providers who comment on an application’s proposed funded service area to supply the names and addresses of current subscribers within the designated area 190 or prove coverage by posting coverage availability on their Web site at all times.191 For this round of funding, NTIA will post an announcement identifying each CCI application it has received, along with a list of the Census block groups or tracts that each infrastructure application has proposed to serve through its project at https:// www.broadbandusa.gov for a 15-day period. The announcement will provide existing broadband service providers with an opportunity to voluntarily submit to NTIA information about the broadband services that they currently offer in their respective service territories by Census block group or tract. If an existing broadband service provider submits a response outside the 15day period, the information may not be considered by NTIA in its evaluation of an 183 See, e.g., Flow Mobile at 14; Spacenet at 7; Mass. Executive Office of Hous. and Econ. Dev. at 8. 184 See, e.g., City of Chicago at 3; CONXX at 15; Rural Broadband Now! at 8; NATOA at 17. 185 See, e.g., Am. Cable Ass’n at 14–16; CONXX at 15; U.S. Telecom at 26; Univ. of Ark. Med. Serv. at 5; Stratum Broadband at 21–22. 186 See, e.g., New Am. Found. at 23; Inst. for Local Self-Reliance at 5; Merit Network at 8–9; Am. Fiber Sys. at 3; City of Grover Beach at 12. 187 See, e.g., Stratum Broadband at 22; NTCH– Cleartalk at 1; Am. Fiber Sys. at 3; City of Grover Beach at 12; CONXX at 15. 188 See, e.g., New Am. Found. at 23; Flow Mobile at 14; City of Grover Beach at 12. 189 See, e.g., Merit Network at 8–9; Open Range Commc’ns at 9; Stratum Broadband at 22; Commonwealth of Pa. at 13; Fairpoint Commc’ns. 190 See, e.g., Loudoun County, Va., OpenBand Multimedia, LLC & Roadstar Internet, Inc at 7; CONXX at 15. 191 See, e.g., Found. Telecomms. at 1. PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 3819 applicant’s Last Mile or Middle Mile service area(s) as unserved or underserved, as applicable. NTIA will consider such comments provided they include the information set forth in Section V.D.3 of the NOFA, some of which will be made public. NTIA adopts this method of evaluating the unserved or underserved status of applicants’ proposed funded service area as a means to improve the analysis and minimize the burden on applicants and commenters. NTIA also departs from the evaluation process that RUS will use in that it will no longer use the RUS mapping tool to have applicants and commenters draw service area maps or require existing broadband service providers to submit comments on each proposed funded service area specified in an application. As a result of these process enhancements, NTIA believes it can expedite the time period in which existing service providers have to submit their comments from 30 days to 15 days. This expedited schedule will allow NTIA to begin its evaluation of the unserved or underserved status of applications that enter due diligence much more quickly than in the previous round of funding. Interconnection and Nondiscrimination Requirements In the RFI, NTIA and RUS invited public comment on whether the interconnection and nondiscrimination requirements for infrastructure applicants in the initial round of funding should be changed.192 Commenters generally suggest that NTIA maintain the same rules as those of the First NOFA with no modification to their scope or application.193 However, several commenters suggest modifying the scope and application of the nondiscrimination and interconnection requirements.194 Commenters suggest minor adjustments that could be made to these requirements in order to advance certain market efficiencies,195 including requiring grantees to provide fully functional and comprehensive operations support systems and associated Application Programming Interfaces for their wholesale services 196 and for NTIA to rephrase the network management and managed service exceptions in order to encourage companies to provide shared managed services.197 Some commenters also request that certain applicants such as tribes 198 and municipalities 199 be exempt from the NOFA’s nondiscrimination and 192 74 FR at 58944. e.g., Tex. Statewide Tel. Coop. at 12; New Am. Found. at 23; Vantage Point Solutions at 10; Eng’g Ass’n at 4; Harris Corp. at iv; CONXX at 16; City of San Francisco at 1; Am. Fiber Sys. at 4; E. Shore of Va. Broadband Auth. at 5; Mid-Rivers Commc’ns at 10; Commonwealth of Pa. at 14. 194 See, e.g., Earthlink and New Edge Network at 2; Stratum Broadband at 23–24. 195 Id. 196 See, e.g., Earthlink and New Edge Network at 2. 197 See, e.g., Stratum Broadband at 23–24. 198 See, e.g., United Tribes Technical Coll. at 1. 199 See, e.g., City of Phoenix at 3. 193 See, E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2 3820 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / Notices erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with NOTICES2 interconnection requirements.200 In opposition, some commenters request that the requirements be applied to every applicant, regardless of the nature of the entity.201 Commenters express concern that NTIA’s requirements would not mirror the rules that are ultimately adopted in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) ongoing rulemaking proceeding regarding a Free and Open Internet.202 These commenters argue that if the requirements applicable to BTOP applicants are inconsistent with those faced by other service providers, then these additional nondiscrimination obligations will prove burdensome or duplicative for broadband service providers receiving grant funds.203 Commenters suggest that NTIA declare a sunset date for these requirements either when the FCC finalizes its network neutrality rules or at another reasonably foreseeable date.204 Commenters also recommend that NTIA declare that compliance with the FCC rules would be sufficient to meet the requirements of BTOP.205 A few commenters oppose the First NOFA’s nondiscrimination and interconnection requirements altogether.206 These commenters argue that the scope of these requirements chilled participation in the Program during the initial round of funding 207 and that the requirements conflicted with a private company’s ability to manage its own network.208 Commenters also argue that the current approach to the requirements would pose an oversight problem for NTIA and RUS and recommend that compliance be left up to the grant recipients.209 A few commenters also recommend that NTIA clarify its interconnection requirements in order to minimize cost and controversy.210 These commenters are especially concerned that the interconnection and nondiscrimination rules during the initial round of funding were unclear as applied to contractors or subcontractors.211 NTIA agrees with commenters that support maintaining the consistency of the interconnection and nondiscrimination 200 See, e.g., Merit Networks at 9 (suggesting a balancing test when applying the nondiscrimination and interconnection requirements). 201 See, e.g., Org. for the Promotion & Advancement of Small Telecomms. Companies at 7–8; Indep. Tel. and Telecomms. Alliance at 10. 202 See, e.g., ADTRAN at 4–5; Telecomms. Indus. Ass’n at 18; Indep. Tel. and Telecomms. Alliance at 10; Open Range Commc’ns at 10–11; U.S. Telecom at 32. 203 See, e.g., ADTRAN at 2; Telecomms. Indus. Ass’n at 18; U.S. Telecom at 31–33. 204 See, e.g., Indep. Tel. and Telecomms. Alliance at 10; Open Range Commc’ns at 10–11; ADTRAN at 4–5. 205 See, e.g., ADTRAN at 4–5. 206 See, e.g., AT&T at 17–18; State of S.D. at 1; AzulStar at 4. 207 See, e.g., AT&T at 17–18. 208 See, e.g., State of S.D. at 1; AzulStar at 4. 209 See, e.g., AT&T at 18. 210 See, e.g., Stratum Broadband at 24; Alaska Commc’ns Sys. at 7–8; AT&T at 18–19; U.S. Telecom at 33–34; CONXX at 16. 211 Id. VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:44 Jan 21, 2010 Jkt 220001 requirements across the two rounds of funding. Leaving the requirements unchanged from the initial round of funding will help to facilitate the administration of the grants awarded during the first and second rounds and avoid imposing differing nondiscrimination and interconnection standards on recipients. Accordingly, NTIA has decided against making any significant revisions to this section. Any changes made to this section from the First NOFA are intended only to clarify and not change the applicants’ obligations. Sale of Project Assets Section IX.C.2 of the NOFA generally prohibits the sale or lease of award-funded broadband facilities, unless the sale or lease meets certain conditions. Specifically, the agencies may approve a sale or lease if it is for adequate consideration, the purchaser agrees to fulfill the terms and conditions relating to the project, and either the applicant includes the proposed sale or lease in its application as part of its original request for grant funds or the agencies waive this provision for any sale or lease occurring after the tenth year from the date the grant, loan, or loan/grant award is issued.212 Some stakeholders have suggested that this ‘‘tenyear holding rule’’ is overly restrictive and is a barrier to participation in BIP and BTOP.213 The agencies invited public comment on whether and how this section should be revised to adopt a more flexible approach toward awardee mergers, consistent with USDA and DOC regulations, while still ensuring that awardees are not receiving excessive profit from the sale of awardfunded assets.214 The clear majority of forty-seven parties who filed comments on the NOFA’s conditions on the post-award sale or lease of project assets support a relaxation of these conditions.215 Only a few commenters support retention of the rules.216 Most commenters agree that the prohibitions on the sale or lease of project facilities are unreasonably broad because they fail to provide flexibility for the government to consent to a reasonable lease or sale during the first ten years. One commenter voices a concern shared by many that the conditions restricting post-award sales or leases may inhibit obtaining funding for the project, explaining that ‘‘the 10-year prohibition on the sale of the funded assets also seems to cause a ‘chilling effect’ in terms of capital raising by applicants and may have caused many potential broadband providers to avoid BIP/BTOP entirely.’’ 217 Commenters supporting greater flexibility regarding the sale of assets recommend the 212 See 74 FR at 58944. e.g., KeyOn Commc’ns at 3; Commc’ns Finance Ass’n at 1. 214 See 74 FR at 58944. 215 See, e.g., Cricket Commc’ns at 12; Stratum Broadband at 12; Flow Mobile at 15. 216 Eng’g Ass’n, Inc. at 4; E. Shore of Va. Broadband Auth. at 5; Canby Telecom at 1; MidRivers Commc’ns at 10. 217 See, e.g., KeyOn Commc’ns at 3; E. Shore of Va. Broadband Auth. at 5; Native Broadband Satellite at 8; Alaska Commc’ns Sys. at 8; Cricket Commc’ns at 12; Cal. Broadband Coop. at 5. 213 See, PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 following revisions: The second NOFA should allow the government to approve the sale or lease of project assets on a case-bycase basis; 218 the agencies should remove the 10-year limit and focus on unjust enrichment; 219 clarify that the project assets mean only those assets which are purchased directly from grant funds awarded and not * * * equipment or services purchased * * * with ‘‘matching funds;’’ 220 relax rules so that the agencies may approve sales, ‘‘as long as the successor agrees to the obligations of the program;’’ 221 allow for accelerated depreciation of assets; 222 restrictions should not apply to IRUs or leases to research and education networks; 223 and modify the policy to accommodate the sale or lease to accommodate the normal five-year replacement cycle of broadband equipment.224 NTIA agrees with the majority of commenters proposing to relax restrictions on the post-award sale or lease of project assets and revises this section accordingly. As a result, awardees may petition for a waiver authorizing the sale or lease of assets at any time during the life of the awardfunded facilities and shall include supporting documentation and justification regarding why the petition should be granted. Dated: January 15, 2010. Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information. [FR Doc. 2010–1097 Filed 1–19–10; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 3510–60–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Utilities Service RIN 0572–ZA01 Broadband Initiatives Program AGENCY: Rural Utilities Service, Department of Agriculture. ACTION: Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) and solicitation of applications. SUMMARY: The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) announces its general policy and application procedures for the second round of funding under the broadband initiatives (the Second Round NOFA) established pursuant to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) for the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) which provides loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas. In facilitating the expansion of broadband 218 See, e.g., Rural Broadband Now at 9. e.g., U.S. Telecom at 37–38. 220 See, e.g., Dixie Tech. Funding Agency at 15. 221 See, e.g., Monte R Lee & Co. at 8. 222 See, e.g., Senior Broadband/Internet Adoption Collaborative at 10. 223 See, e.g., Internet2 at 26–27. 224 See, e.g., TransWorld Network at 5. 219 See, E:\FR\FM\22JAN2.SGM 22JAN2

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 14 (Friday, January 22, 2010)]
[Notices]
[Pages 3792-3820]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-1097]



[[Page 3791]]

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Part II





Department of Commerce





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National Telecommunications and Information Administration



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Department of Agriculture





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Rural Utilities Service



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Broadband Technology Opportunities Program; Notices

Federal Register / Vol. 75 , No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2010 / 
Notices

[[Page 3792]]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Telecommunications and Information Administration

[Docket No. 0907141137-0024-06]
RIN 0660-ZA28


Broadband Technology Opportunities Program

AGENCY: National Telecommunications and Information Administration 
(NTIA), U.S. Department of Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) and solicitation of 
applications.

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SUMMARY: NTIA announces general policy and application procedures for 
the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP or Program) that 
the agency established pursuant to the American Recovery and 
Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). BTOP provides grants for 
deploying broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas of 
the United States, enhancing broadband capacity at public computer 
centers, and promoting sustainable broadband adoption projects. In 
facilitating the expansion of broadband communications services and 
infrastructure, BTOP advances the objectives of the Recovery Act to 
spur job creation and stimulate long-term economic growth and 
opportunity.

DATES: All applications for funding BTOP projects must be submitted 
between February 16, 2010, at 8 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) and 
March 15, 2010, at 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

ADDRESSES: The application packages for electronic submissions will be 
available at https://www.broadbandusa.gov. See Supplementary Information 
for more details.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For general inquiries regarding BTOP 
or questions regarding this NOFA, contact Anthony Wilhelm, Director, 
BTOP, Office of Telecommunications and Information Applications, 
National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. 
Department of Commerce (DOC), 1401 Constitution Avenue, NW., HCHB, Room 
4887, Washington, DC 20230; Help Desk e-mail: BroadbandUSA@usda.gov, 
Help Desk telephone: 1-877-508-8364. Additional information regarding 
BTOP may be obtained at https://www.ntia.doc.gov/broadbandgrants/. For 
inquiries regarding BTOP compliance requirements, including applicable 
Federal rules and regulations protecting against fraud, waste, and 
abuse, contact btopcompliance@ntia.doc.gov. Additional information 
regarding compliance for BTOP may be obtained at https://www.broadbandusa.gov/compliance.htm.

    Authority:  This notice is issued pursuant to the American 
Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Pub. L. 111-5, 123 Stat. 115 
(2009).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    Electronic submissions: Electronic submissions of applications will 
allow for the expeditious review of an applicant's proposal consistent 
with the goals of the Recovery Act. As a result, all applicants are 
required to submit their applications electronically at https://applyonline.broadbandusa.gov. The electronic application system will 
provide a date-and-time-stamped confirmation number that will serve as 
proof of submission. Please note that applications will not be accepted 
via paper, facsimile machine transmission, electronic mail, or other 
media format. Applicants, however, may request a waiver of these filing 
instructions pursuant to Section X.N. of this NOFA.
    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: Broadband 
Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP)--11.557.

Additional Items in Supplementary Information

    I. Overview: Describes the broadband initiatives in the Recovery 
Act, the first round of funding, and an overview of the next round 
of funding.
    II. Funding Opportunity Description: Provides a more thorough 
description of BTOP and the funding priorities.
    III. Definitions: Sets forth the key statutory terms and other 
terms used in BTOP.
    IV. Award Information: Describes funding availability, grant 
terms, as applicable, and other award information.
    V. Eligibility Information and General Program Requirements: 
Establishes eligibility criteria, eligible and ineligible costs, and 
general program requirements.
    VI. Application and Submission Information: Provides information 
regarding how to apply, application materials, and the application 
process.
    VII. Application Review Information: Establishes the evaluation 
criteria for application review.
    VIII. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates: Identifies the 
initial announcement date for certain awards and provides other 
information regarding BTOP.
    IX. Award Administration Information: Provides award notice 
information, administrative and national policy requirements, terms 
and conditions, and other reporting requirements for award 
recipients.
    X. Other Information: Sets forth guidance on funding, compliance 
with various laws, confidentiality, discretionary awards, and 
authorized signatures.

I. Overview

A. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act)

    On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed the Recovery Act into 
law.\1\ The essential goal of the Recovery Act is to provide a ``direct 
fiscal boost to help lift our Nation from the greatest economic crisis 
in our lifetimes and lay the foundation for future growth.'' \2\ 
Accordingly, the Recovery Act identifies five overall purposes: To 
preserve and create jobs and promote economic recovery; to assist those 
most impacted by the current economic recession; to provide investments 
needed to increase economic efficiency by spurring technological 
advances in science and health; to invest in transportation, 
environmental protection, and other infrastructure that will provide 
long-term economic benefits; and to stabilize State and local 
government budgets.\3\ The Recovery Act further instructs the President 
and the heads of Federal departments and agencies to manage and expend 
Recovery Act funds to achieve these five purposes, ``commencing 
expenditures and activities as quickly as possible consistent with 
prudent management.'' \4\
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    \1\ American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Pub. L. No. 
111-5, 123 Stat. 115 (2009) (Recovery Act).
    \2\ Statement on Signing the American Recovery and Reinvestment 
Act of 2009, Daily Comp. of Pres. Doc., 2009 DCPD No. 00088, at 1 
(Feb. 17, 2009), https://fdsys.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/DCPD-200900088/pdf/DCPD-200900088.pdf.
    \3\ Recovery Act sec. 3(a), 123 Stat. at 115-16.
    \4\ See id. Sec. 3(b), 123 Stat. at 116.
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    Consistent with the purposes described above, the Recovery Act 
provides the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service 
(RUS) and the National Telecommunications and Information 
Administration (NTIA) with $7.2 billion to expand access to broadband 
services in the United States. In so doing, the Recovery Act recognizes 
the growing importance of access to broadband services to economic 
development and to the quality of life of all Americans.
    The Recovery Act provides $4.7 billion to NTIA to establish the 
Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP or Program) and 
directs that these funds be awarded by September 30, 2010. This amount 
represents a significant investment to advance President Obama's 
national broadband strategy. Of these funds, at least $200 million will 
be made available for competitive grants for

[[Page 3793]]

expanding public computer center capacity; at least $250 million will 
be made available for competitive grants for innovative programs to 
encourage sustainable adoption of broadband services; and up to $350 
million will be made available to fund the State Broadband Data and 
Development Grant Program (Broadband Mapping Program) authorized by the 
Broadband Data Improvement Act.\5\ The Broadband Mapping Program is 
designed to support the development and maintenance of a nationwide 
broadband map for use by policymakers and consumers.\6\
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    \5\ Pub. L. 110-385, 122 Stat. 4096 (to be codified at 47 U.S.C. 
1301 et seq.).
    \6\ See State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program, 
Notice of Funds Availability and Solicitation of Applications, 74 FR 
32545 (July 8, 2009).
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B. Round One

    In response to the first Notice of Funds Availability (First NOFA), 
RUS and NTIA received almost 2,200 applications requesting nearly $28 
billion in funding for proposed broadband projects reaching all States, 
five territories, and the District of Columbia.\7\ When including about 
$10.5 billion in matching funds committed by the applicants, these 
applications represent more than $38 billion in proposed broadband 
projects. RUS and NTIA received applications from a diverse range of 
parties, including: State, tribal, and local governments; nonprofits; 
industry; small businesses; community anchor institutions such as 
libraries, universities, community colleges, and hospitals; public 
safety organizations; and other entities in rural, suburban, and urban 
areas. Parties submitted more than 830 applications jointly to RUS's 
Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) and NTIA's BTOP, requesting nearly 
$12.8 billion in infrastructure funding. NTIA received an additional 
260 infrastructure applications that sought only BTOP funding, 
requesting more than $5.4 billion in grants for broadband 
infrastructure projects in unserved and underserved areas. Parties 
submitted more than 360 applications to NTIA requesting more than $1.9 
billion in grants from BTOP for public computer center projects. In 
addition, parties filed more than 320 applications with NTIA requesting 
nearly $2.5 billion in grants from BTOP for projects that promote 
sustainable demand for broadband services.
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    \7\ Notice of Funds Availability and Solicitation of 
Applications, 74 FR 33104 (July 9, 2009).
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    On December 17, 2009, NTIA announced the first set of awards out of 
the $1.6 billion that was allocated for the first round of funding. 
These awards, as well as additional awards announced by Secretary Locke 
on January 13, 2010, totaled approximately $137 million for investments 
in ten broadband projects benefitting ten States.\8\ Of these awards, 
$119 million was dedicated for Middle Mile projects; $15.9 million for 
Public Computer Center projects; and $2.4 million for Sustainable 
Broadband Adoption projects. Additional awards will be announced on a 
rolling basis.
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    \8\ White House Press Release, Vice President Biden Kicks Off 
$7.2 Billion Recovery Act Broadband Program (December 17, 2009), 
available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/vice-president-biden-kicks-72-billion-recovery-act-broadband-program. 
Department of Commerce Press Release, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke 
Announces $7.5 Million Investment to Increase Broadband Access in 
Los Angeles (January 13, 2010), available at https://www.commerce.gov/newsroom/pressreleases_factsheets/prod01_008797.
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C. Round Two

1. Funding Process
    The purpose of this NOFA is to describe the availability of BTOP 
funds for the second round of funding and set forth the application 
requirements for those entities wishing to participate in the Program. 
Applicants are permitted to apply to one or more of the project 
categories. Each application will be screened for initial eligibility. 
Those eligible applications that satisfy the statutory purposes and 
funding priorities will be prioritized and evaluated against objective 
evaluation criteria to determine whether an award may be merited. 
Applications that satisfy the BTOP priorities and score highly when 
evaluated against the objective evaluation criteria will advance to the 
due diligence stage of review, where NTIA may request additional 
information and adjustments to the proposal. From this pool of 
applications, NTIA will select awardees based on the selection factors. 
NTIA anticipates completing this round of funding as quickly as 
possible to maximize the stimulative effect of the Recovery Act. NTIA 
also is committed to transparency and fairness in the award process and 
will require rigorous reporting to ensure prudent stewardship of 
taxpayer funds.
2. Request for Information (RFI)
    To prepare for this round of funding, on November 10, 2009, RUS and 
NTIA released a second joint request for information seeking public 
comment on ways to enhance the applicant experience through targeted 
revisions to the First NOFA.\9\ RUS and NTIA received approximately 225 
comments from institutions and individuals on a wide range of topics, 
and these comments have played an important role in developing this 
NOFA. For further discussion and explanation of NTIA's reliance on the 
public comments in the policy decisions involved in BTOP, see the 
attached Policy Justification found in the Appendix at the end of this 
NOFA.
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    \9\ Joint Request for Information (RFI), 74 FR 58940 (Nov. 16, 
2009).
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3. Project Categories
    For this round of funding, NTIA will award grants in three 
categories of eligible projects: Comprehensive Community Infrastructure 
(CCI), Public Computer Centers (PCC), and Sustainable Broadband 
Adoption (SBA).\10\ The CCI category will focus on Middle Mile 
broadband infrastructure projects that offer new or substantially 
upgraded connections to community anchor institutions, especially 
community colleges. The PCC category will help expand public access to 
broadband service and enhance broadband capacity at entities that 
permit the public to use these computing centers, such as community 
colleges and public libraries.\11\ The SBA category will fund 
innovative projects that promote broadband demand, including projects 
focused on providing broadband education, awareness, training, access, 
equipment, or support, particularly among vulnerable population groups 
that traditionally have underutilized broadband technology.\12\
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    \10\ See Recovery Act Div. A, Tit. II, 123 Stat. at 128.
    \11\ Id. Div. A, Tit. II & sec. 6001(b)(3), 123 Stat. at 128, 
512-13.
    \12\ Id. Div. A, Tit. II & sec. 6001(b)(5), 123 Stat. at 128, 
513.
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    NTIA plans to award all remaining BTOP grants funded by the 
Recovery Act in this round of funding. Approximately $2.6 billion of 
program-level funding has been allocated to this NOFA by NTIA. NTIA 
intends to award approximately $2.35 billion for CCI projects, at least 
$150 million for PCC projects, and at least $100 million for SBA 
projects.
4. Changes From the First NOFA
    Based on the comments received in response to the second RFI and 
the experience gained from administering the first round of funding, 
NTIA is making a number of changes to the Program. The goals of these 
changes are to increase efficiency, sharpen the Program's funding 
focus, and improve the applicant experience.
    In the first round, RUS and NTIA issued a joint BIP/BTOP NOFA to

[[Page 3794]]

promote coordination between these programs. The agencies gave 
applicants the option to file a single application for infrastructure 
projects for both programs. For the second round of funding, RUS and 
NTIA have decided to issue separate NOFAs for BIP and BTOP to better 
promote each agency's distinct objectives. The joint application 
process was burdensome for some applicants. Therefore, RUS and NTIA 
have eliminated the option of allowing applicants to file a single, 
joint BIP/BTOP application in the second funding round in favor of 
separate applications.
    NTIA has sought to bring further leverage to Federal funds by 
giving additional consideration to projects that propose to contribute 
a non-Federal cost share/match that equals or exceeds 30 percent of the 
total eligible costs of the project.
    In addition, NTIA is adopting a ``comprehensive communities'' 
approach to award BTOP grants for infrastructure projects that 
emphasize Middle Mile broadband capabilities and new or substantially 
upgraded connections to community anchor institutions to maximize the 
benefits of BTOP funds. In adopting this approach, NTIA has 
restructured the Broadband Infrastructure category of the First NOFA 
into the CCI category for this second round of funding.
    Further, NTIA has implemented other targeted changes to several 
Program provisions. In particular, NTIA has reduced the number of 
BTOP's eligibility factors to just three criteria--eligible entities, 
fully completed application, and matching--which will be used to 
determine whether an application is eligible for consideration. NTIA 
has further streamlined the eligibility review by removing the budget 
reasonableness and technical feasibility factors from the eligibility 
requirements, because these categories are more effectively evaluated 
during the expert review and due diligence phases of application 
consideration. NTIA also has changed the number of expert reviewers 
from at least three to at least two in order to make the expert review 
process as efficient as possible, without impacting the rigor of 
review. NTIA will review CCI applications according to the priorities 
established in Section II.B. Additionally, NTIA has clarified the 
process for requesting waivers from several key statutory and 
programmatic obligations, including the matching fund requirement, Last 
Mile coverage obligation, and restriction on the sale or lease of 
project assets.
    With respect to the application, NTIA will now collect the 
information most essential to project review in the application itself, 
with the option to collect additional data during the due diligence 
review, as needed. In addition, NTIA has made numerous adjustments to 
the online application system to streamline the intake of information 
and reduce applicant burden. In particular, NTIA has reduced the 
overall number of attachments to the applications. It also has 
separated the BTOP infrastructure application from the BIP 
infrastructure application and separated the PCC application from the 
SBA application. Moreover, it has eliminated the proposed funded 
service area mapping tool and modified the service area delineations 
from Census blocks to Census tracts and block groups. NTIA also has 
made it easier for applicants filing applications in multiple project 
categories to link these applications, in furtherance of NTIA's focus 
on comprehensive communities.

II. Funding Opportunity Description

A. Statutory Purposes

    Section 6001 of the Recovery Act establishes a national broadband 
service development and expansion program to promote five core 
purposes:
    a. To provide access to broadband service to consumers residing in 
unserved areas of the country;
    b. To provide improved access to broadband service to consumers 
residing in underserved areas of the country;
    c. To provide broadband education, awareness, training, access, 
equipment, and support to: (i) Schools, libraries, medical and 
healthcare providers, community colleges and other institutions of 
higher learning, and other community support organizations; (ii) 
organizations and agencies that provide outreach, access, equipment, 
and support services to facilitate greater use of broadband services by 
vulnerable populations (e.g., low-income, unemployed, aged); or (iii) 
job-creating strategic facilities located in State- or Federally-
designated economic development zones;
    d. To improve access to, and use of, broadband service by public 
safety agencies; and
    e. To stimulate the demand for broadband, economic growth, and job 
creation.\13\
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    \13\ See id. Sec. 6001(b), 123 Stat. at 512-13.
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B. BTOP Priorities

    All projects funded under BTOP must advance one or more of the five 
statutory purposes outlined above. The Program is designed to extend 
broadband access to unserved areas, improve access to underserved 
areas, and expand broadband access to a wide range of institutions and 
individuals, including vulnerable populations. It will seek to serve 
the highest priority needs for Federal investment--particularly 
projects that offer the potential for economic growth and job creation. 
The Program will support viable, sustainable, and scalable projects.
1. Comprehensive Community Infrastructure Projects
a. Background
    In the first funding round, NTIA solicited Broadband Infrastructure 
applications in two categories, Last Mile and Middle Mile. Last Mile 
projects were defined as any infrastructure project the predominant 
purpose of which is to provide broadband service to end users or end-
user devices. Middle Mile projects were defined as any broadband 
infrastructure project that does not predominantly provide broadband 
service to end users or to end-user devices and that may include 
interoffice transport, backhaul, Internet connectivity, or special 
access. Middle Mile projects funded to date in Round One also included 
expanding and enhancing broadband services for community anchor 
institutions such as schools, libraries, colleges and universities, 
medical and healthcare providers, public safety entities, and other 
community support organizations.
    Recognizing the significant importance of Middle Mile 
infrastructure to improving broadband capabilities for consumers 
residing in unserved and underserved areas of the nation, NTIA has 
awarded a significant portion of funds in the first round of funding to 
Middle Mile projects, particularly those that connect a significant 
number of community anchor institutions. Such projects provide 
substantial benefits, including enhancing broadband service for 
community anchor institutions, facilitating the development of Last 
Mile broadband services in unserved and underserved areas, and 
promoting economic growth.
b. CCI Funding Priorities
    In this round of funding, NTIA seeks to focus on Middle Mile 
projects by adopting a ``comprehensive communities'' approach to 
awarding BTOP infrastructure grants. Under this approach, priority will 
be given to CCI projects that include a Middle Mile component and 
satisfy certain

[[Page 3795]]

additional considerations.\14\ This prioritization will be used for the 
sequencing of applications for the objective merit review performed by 
expert reviewers.\15\ In particular, the highest priority for merit 
review will be given to CCI applications that satisfy all of the 
criteria below. Note that the application evaluation process will 
continue to consider additional factors, including, for example, the 
degree to which the projects will benefit consumers residing in 
unserved or underserved areas, the participation of an Indian Tribe or 
socially and economically disadvantaged small business concern as 
defined under Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act (as modified by 
NTIA's adoption of an alternative small business concern size standard 
for use in BTOP),\16\ and the ability of a project to leverage funding 
from another Recovery Act program or other State or Federal development 
program.\17\ In order of importance, the CCI priority criteria are set 
forth as follows:
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    \14\ Consistent with the terms of the Recovery Act, in this 
funding round NTIA will not fund Middle Mile projects in areas that 
RUS has already funded with Middle Mile awards made through BIP.
    \15\ See Department of Commerce (DOC) Grants and Cooperative 
Agreements Interim Manual (Grants Manual), ch. 8, secs. B.1.c. and 
B.3 (June 21, 2007) (available at https://oam.ocs.doc.gov/GMD_updated-doc.html).
    \16\ 15 U.S.C. 637(a)(4). NTIA sought the Small Business 
Administration's approval to adopt a $40 million alternative small 
business size standard for BTOP. The Small Business Administration 
issued a letter approving the use of this alternative size standard 
of $40 million to define a small business concern for purposes of 
BTOP.
    \17\ See infra Section VII.A.1.
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    (1) Projects that will deploy Middle Mile broadband infrastructure 
with a commitment to offer new or substantially upgraded service to 
community anchor institutions. Those projects proposing to serve a 
significant number of community anchor institutions that have expressed 
a demand or indicated a need for access or improved access to broadband 
service will receive higher priority;
    (2) Projects that will deploy Middle Mile broadband infrastructure 
and incorporate a public-private partnership among government, non-
profit and for-profit entities, and other key community stakeholders, 
particularly those that have expressed a demand or indicated a need for 
access or improved access to broadband service;
    (3) Projects that will deploy Middle Mile broadband infrastructure 
with the intent to bolster growth in economically distressed areas;
    (4) Projects that will deploy Middle Mile broadband infrastructure 
with a commitment to serve community colleges that have expressed a 
demand or indicated a need for access or improved access to broadband 
service;
    (5) Projects that will deploy Middle Mile broadband infrastructure 
with a commitment to serve public safety entities that have expressed a 
demand or indicated a need for access or improved access to broadband 
service;
    (6) Projects that will deploy Middle Mile broadband infrastructure 
that includes (i) a Last Mile infrastructure component in unserved or 
underserved areas; or (ii) commitments or non-binding letters of intent 
from one or more Last Mile broadband service providers.\18\ For Last 
Mile infrastructure components in rural areas, however, the additional 
costs of the Last Mile component used to offer service to residential 
consumers and non-community anchor institutions may not exceed more 
than 20 percent of the total eligible costs of the project; and
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    \18\ Consistent with the terms of the Recovery Act, in this 
funding round NTIA will not fund Last Mile projects in areas that 
RUS has already funded with Last Mile awards made through BIP.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (7) Projects that will deploy Middle Mile broadband infrastructure 
and propose to contribute a non-Federal cost match that equals or 
exceeds 30 percent of the total eligible costs of the project.
    To the extent that a CCI applicant with a Middle Mile component 
does not address all of the criteria set forth above (i.e., criteria 
(1)-(7)), NTIA will prioritize those applications remaining for merit 
review in the order that they satisfy the most highly-ranked criteria 
(i.e., applications satisfying criteria (1)-(6) will be sequenced for 
merit review, then applications satisfying (1)-(5), then (1)-(4), then 
(1)-(3), then (1)-(2) respectively, and, finally, applications that 
satisfy only the first criterion). All other CCI applicants with a 
Middle Mile component, that is, those that do not satisfy the first 
criterion identified above, will be next in priority for merit review.
c. ``Comprehensive Communities'' Policy Rationale
    The ``comprehensive communities'' approach, with its focus on the 
deployment of Middle Mile broadband facilities and the provision of new 
or substantially upgraded connections to community anchor institutions 
as its centerpiece, will provide a number of benefits to the public and 
taxpayers. ``Comprehensive communities'' projects can leverage 
resources and better ensure sustainable community growth and 
prosperity. These projects also can create consumer demand and lay the 
foundation for the ultimate provision of reasonably priced end-user 
broadband services in unserved and underserved communities. Open and 
nondiscriminatory CCI projects funded by BTOP will enable other service 
providers to serve the community.\19\ Once Middle Mile facilities are 
built, the costs of providing services to a broad array of end users 
are reduced. Much like the interstate highways that link together the 
nation's roads and streets, Middle Mile broadband facilities play a 
critical role in the healthy functioning of the nation's broadband 
infrastructure and are a necessary foundation for the ultimate 
provision of affordable end-user broadband services in unserved and 
underserved communities.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \19\ See Recovery Act sec. 6001(j), 123 Stat. at 515.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Expanding Middle Mile broadband service not only enhances the 
availability and affordability of end-user broadband connectivity for 
consumers and businesses, it also increases the effectiveness of 
community anchor institutions in fulfilling their missions. Schools, 
libraries, colleges and universities, medical and healthcare providers, 
public safety entities, and other community support organizations 
increasingly rely on high-speed Internet connectivity to serve their 
constituencies and their communities. Expanding broadband capabilities 
for community anchor institutions will result in substantial benefits 
for the entire community, delivering improved education, healthcare, 
and economic development.
    CCI projects are also job-intensive and pave the way for a ripple 
effect of economic development throughout the communities they touch. 
Focusing the awards in this funding round on CCI projects that provide 
high-speed Middle Mile networks to connect community anchor 
institutions, including community colleges, or benefit consumers 
residing in unserved or underserved areas will maximize the benefits of 
Recovery Act dollars and lay a foundation for economic development for 
years to come.\20\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \20\ See National Economic Council, Recovery Act Investments in 
Broadband: Leveraging Federal Dollars to Create Jobs and Connect 
America (Dec. 2009), available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/20091217-recovery-act-investments-broadband.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

d. Relationship to BIP
    Although BIP and BTOP no longer will offer a joint application, RUS 
and NTIA continue to collaborate to maximize the impact of available 
Federal funding, to best leverage the experience and expertise of each 
agency, and to avoid geographic overlap

[[Page 3796]]

in projects funded by the two agencies (as required by the Recovery 
Act).\21\ To accomplish these objectives, NTIA strongly recommends that 
CCI applicants that are currently RUS loan or grant recipients as well 
as any CCI applicant whose project will include a Last Mile service 
area that is at least 75 percent rural apply to BIP for funding. 
Applications from such applicants will not be viewed favorably by NTIA 
and will not be a funding priority.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \21\ Recovery Act Tit. I, 123 Stat. at 118.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

e. Exclusive Last Mile Projects
    As explained above, priority will be given to CCI projects that 
include a Middle Mile component. While a CCI project may exclusively 
contain a Last Mile component, it will only be considered for merit 
review and funding after all projects with a Middle Mile component have 
been considered.
2. Public Computer Centers (PCC)
    In this funding round, consistent with the Recovery Act, NTIA will 
fund PCC projects. These projects provide broadband access to the 
general public or a specific vulnerable population and must either 
create or expand a public computer center or improve broadband service 
or connections at a public computer center, including those at 
community colleges, that meets a specific public need for broadband 
service. PCC projects are a logical complement to CCI projects, because 
they are uniquely positioned to serve many members of a community with 
computer equipment, computer training, job training, and access to job 
and educational resources that might not otherwise be available.
3. Sustainable Broadband Adoption (SBA)
    Consistent with the Recovery Act and the promotion of BTOP's five 
core objectives, NTIA also will fund SBA projects. The SBA program is 
designed to fund innovative projects that promote broadband demand, 
especially among vulnerable population groups where broadband 
technology traditionally has been underutilized. Broadband technology 
has reshaped the way our nation functions, and NTIA recognizes that 
broadband adoption projects strive to ensure that as much of the 
population as possible has opportunities, abilities, and resources to 
thrive in today's society. With projects focusing on broadband 
awareness, access, training, and education, barriers to broadband 
adoption can be overcome, fostering educational and business 
opportunities and a more competitive country as a whole. NTIA, 
therefore, seeks SBA projects that, after establishing a subscribership 
baseline in a given community, demonstrate a clear ability to measure 
and sustain the expected increase in broadband adoption without ongoing 
Federal grant assistance, so that the nation will continue to see the 
benefits of these projects well after the period of performance for the 
grant award has ended.

C. Application Review and the Selection Process

1. Initial Review
    NTIA will conduct an initial review of applications to determine 
whether they meet the eligibility requirements set forth in Section 
V.A. through V.C. of this NOFA. These requirements are mandatory, and 
applicants that fail to meet them will not have their applications 
considered further.
2. Scoring Applications
    Subsequent to this initial eligibility review, applications will be 
separated into the three project categories. For PCC and SBA projects, 
applications will receive an Evaluation Criteria Review score by at 
least two objective expert reviewers who may be Federal employees or 
non-Federal persons. For CCI projects, program staff will prioritize 
the applications for the Evaluation Criteria Review based on the BTOP 
priorities set forth in Section II.B., and then the applications will 
be evaluated in priority order by at least two objective expert 
reviewers who may be Federal employees or non-Federal persons. No 
consensus advice will be provided by the non-Federal expert reviewers.
    Reviewers will be selected based on their expertise in: (i) 
Analyzing a business or organizational model pursuant to BTOP purposes; 
(ii) designing, funding, constructing, or operating broadband networks 
or public computer centers; (iii) broadband-related outreach, training, 
or education; (iv) innovative programs to increase the demand for 
broadband services; or (v) other broadband-related functions or 
activities. Reviewers will evaluate applications against the evaluation 
criteria provided in this NOFA and independently score each 
application. Reviewer scores will be averaged and NTIA will establish 
thresholds that will be used to determine which applications are 
considered ``highly qualified.'' Highly qualified applications may be 
considered further for an award by NTIA Program staff and given a ``due 
diligence'' review. For CCI projects, priority in due diligence 
processing will be given to applications that best conform to BTOP 
priorities as expressed in Section II.B.1.b of this NOFA.
3. State and Tribal Consultation
    The Recovery Act authorizes NTIA to consult with States, 
territories, possessions, and the District of Columbia (``States'') 
regarding the identification of unserved and underserved areas within 
their borders and the allocation of grant funds to projects in or 
affecting their State.\22\ After the application deadline, NTIA will 
invite each State, via its Governor, to provide input on those 
geographic areas within the State for which NTIA should give priority 
in selecting projects for funding. States may, if they wish, comment on 
specific BTOP applications that propose to serve areas within their 
jurisdiction, regardless of the size or geographic scope of the project 
and, at their discretion, provide an explanation for why certain 
applications meet the greatest needs of the State. NTIA also will 
extend the invitation to tribal entities to comment upon applications 
that propose to serve tribal communities in an effort to fund projects 
that best meet the needs of their tribal lands.
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    \22\ Recovery Act sec. 6001(c), 123 Stat. at 513.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    NTIA will share data that are available on the publicly searchable 
application database with each relevant State and tribe. States and 
tribes that wish to review additional information regarding 
applications proposing to serve areas within their jurisdiction may 
request such information from applicants directly. States and tribes 
will not be required to rank or comment on BTOP applications in order 
for applications affecting their areas to receive funding. The input of 
States and tribes is consultative in nature and, while extremely 
valuable, constitutes only one among several factors the Selecting 
Official, the Assistant Secretary, weighs when evaluating applications. 
States or tribes will not have the ability to veto any particular 
project. States and tribes will have no less than 20 calendar days from 
the date of notification to submit their comments to NTIA. NTIA will 
make the comments of the States and tribes publicly available at https://www.broadbandusa.gov. Accordingly, States and tribes should not 
include in their comments to NTIA any information that is deemed 
confidential and proprietary.
4. Due Diligence Review
    During due diligence review, applicants may be asked to submit 
additional information, as appropriate,

[[Page 3797]]

to clarify or to further substantiate the representations made in their 
applications. The supplemental information, along with all information 
submitted with the application, will be reviewed and analyzed by NTIA 
Program staff to confirm eligibility and evaluate the applications with 
respect to general Program requirements, the appropriate Federal share 
of the project, evaluation criteria, and selection factors. Applicants 
whose supporting documents are not timely filed or who do not 
adequately substantiate the representations in their applications may 
be rejected. NTIA may, at its discretion, request supplemental 
documentation before deciding to reject such applications and re-
evaluate the application package based on all of the information 
presented.
    At any time during the application review process, NTIA reserves 
the right to discuss with the applicant specific modifications to the 
application to resolve any differences that may exist between the 
applicant's original request and NTIA's determination of eligible costs 
and funding priorities, including, for example, the right to adjust the 
Federal share of the project. Note that it is NTIA's intent to fund 
only the portion of the project that satisfies Program purposes and is 
justified based on an analysis of anticipated costs and revenues. 
Specifically, pursuant to the Recovery Act requirement that applicants 
demonstrate that a project would not have been implemented during the 
grant period without Federal assistance, NTIA may seek to adjust the 
amount of funds made available for the Federal share of the project to 
a level warranted based on this ``but for'' test.\23\ Not all 
applicants contacted necessarily will receive a BTOP award. Upon 
completion of due diligence, NTIA Program staff will summarize their 
analysis for each application reviewed.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \23\ See Recovery Act sec. 6001(e)(3), 123 Stat. at 514.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

5. The Selection Process
    The Director of BTOP (BTOP Director) will prepare and present a 
package or packages of recommended grant awards to the Associate 
Administrator for the Office of Telecommunications and Information 
Applications (OTIA Associate Administrator), or his/her designee, for 
review and approval. The BTOP Director's recommendations and the OTIA 
Associate Administrator's review and approval will consider the 
following selection factors:
    a. The Evaluation Criteria Review score of the objective expert 
reviewers;
    b. The analysis of NTIA Program staff;
    c. Satisfaction of the statutory purposes and BTOP priorities set 
forth in Section II.;
    d. The extent to which the non-Federal cost match equals or exceeds 
30 percent of the total eligible costs of the project;
    e. The geographic distribution of the proposed grant awards (e.g., 
ensuring that, to the extent practical, NTIA awards not less than one 
grant in each State as set forth in the Recovery Act);
    f. The range of technologies and uses of the technologies employed 
by the proposed grant awards;
    g. Avoidance of redundancy, duplication, and conflicts with the 
initiatives of other Federal agencies, including Department of 
Agriculture loan and grant programs for broadband services, applicable 
universal service programs authorized by the Federal Communications 
Commission, and, to the extent practical, avoidance of unjust 
enrichment; \24\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \24\ Recovery Act sec. 6001(h)(2)(D), 123 Stat. at 515.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    h. The availability of funds;
    i. If applicable, the comments of States, including, but not 
limited to, such comments as described in their application for the 
Broadband Mapping Program or as subsequently provided to NTIA either on 
their own or along with the submission of State-level broadband maps; 
\25\ and
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \25\ Consistent with the Recovery Act, the Broadband Mapping 
Program provides participating States the opportunity to identify 
unserved and underserved areas in their State.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    j. If applicable, the comments of tribal entities.
    Upon approval of the OTIA Associate Administrator or designee, the 
BTOP Director's recommendations then will be presented to the Selecting 
Official. The Assistant Secretary selects the applications for grant 
awards, taking into consideration the BTOP Director's and the OTIA 
Associate Administrator's, or his or her designee's, recommendations 
and the degree to which the application package, taken as a whole, 
satisfies the selection factors described above and the Program's 
statutory purposes and priorities as set forth in Sections II of this 
NOFA. Awards will be made on a rolling basis subject to the 
availability of funds. Unsuccessful applicants will be notified in 
writing.

III. Definitions

    The terms and conditions provided in this NOFA are applicable to 
and for purposes of this NOFA only.
    Applicant means an entity requesting approval of an award under 
this NOFA.
    Assistant Secretary means the Assistant Secretary for 
Communications and Information, National Telecommunications and 
Information Administration, Department of Commerce, or the Assistant 
Secretary's designee.
    Award means a grant made under this NOFA by NTIA.
    Awardee means a grantee.
    Broadband means providing two-way data transmission with advertised 
speeds of at least 768 kilobits per second (kbps) downstream and at 
least 200 kbps upstream to end users, or providing sufficient capacity 
in a Middle Mile project to support the provision of broadband service 
to end users.
    BTOP means the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, 
administered by NTIA, under the Recovery Act.
    Build-out means the construction or improvement of facilities and 
equipment as specified in the application.
    Community anchor institutions means schools, libraries, medical and 
healthcare providers, public safety entities, community colleges and 
other institutions of higher education, and other community support 
organizations and agencies that provide outreach, access, equipment, 
and support services to facilitate greater use of broadband service by 
vulnerable populations, including low-income, the unemployed, and the 
aged.
    Comprehensive Community Infrastructure (CCI) project means an 
infrastructure project that focuses primarily on providing new or 
substantially upgraded connections to community anchor institutions.
    Economically distressed area means an area that has: (i) A per 
capita income of 80 percent or less of the national average; and (ii) 
an unemployment rate that is, for the most recent 24-month period for 
which data are available, at least one percent greater than the 
national average unemployment rate.\26\
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    \26\ This definition is derived from regulations adopted by the 
Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 
regarding the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965, as 
amended. See 13 CFR 301.3.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Forecast period means the time period used by NTIA to determine if 
an application is financially feasible. Financial feasibility of an 
application is based on eight-year projections.
    GAAP means generally accepted accounting principles.
    Grant agreement means the agreement between NTIA and the grantee 
for grants awarded under this NOFA, including

[[Page 3798]]

any amendments thereto, setting forth the binding terms and conditions 
relating to Federal funding under BTOP. Sample grant agreements are 
available for review at https://www.broadbandusa.gov or https://www.ntia.doc.gov.
    Grant funds means Federal funds provided pursuant to a grant made 
under this NOFA.
    Grantee means the prime recipient of a grant under this NOFA.
    Last Mile means those components of a CCI project that provide 
broadband service to end-user devices through an intermediate point of 
aggregation. That is, in most cases, the Last Mile connection goes from 
the end-user device through an intermediate point of aggregation (i.e., 
a remote terminal, fiber node, wireless tower, or other equivalent 
access point) to a primary IP routing entity in a centralized facility 
(i.e., in the central office, the cable headend, the wireless switching 
station, or other equivalent centralized facility). The Last Mile also 
includes equivalent services that, solely because of close proximity 
between the customer and centralized facility, are routed directly to 
the centralized facility. The Last Mile will terminate at, and include, 
the initial customer-facing router or aggregation switch in the 
centralized facility (e.g., a DSLAM, CMTS, RNC, or equivalent) that is 
utilized to deliver Last Mile broadband service.
    Last Mile service area means the service area of a Last Mile 
component of a CCI project, composed of one or more contiguous Census 
block groups \27\ or tracts,\28\ where the applicant is requesting BTOP 
funds to provide broadband service to end-user devices through an 
intermediate point of aggregation and terminating at the initial 
customer-facing router or aggregation switch in the centralized 
facility used to deliver the Last Mile broadband service.
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    \27\ A Census block group is a cluster of Census blocks having 
the same first digit of their four-digit identifying numbers within 
a Census tract. A Census block group is the next level above Census 
block in the geographic hierarchy.
    \28\ Census tracts are small, relatively permanent statistical 
subdivisions of a county. Census tracts are delineated for most 
metropolitan areas (MAs) and other densely populated counties by 
local Census statistical areas committees following Census Bureau 
guidelines (more than 3,000 Census tracts have been established in 
221 counties outside MAs). Census tracts usually have between 2,500 
and 8,000 persons and, when first delineated, are designed to be 
homogeneous with respect to population characteristics, economic 
status, and living conditions. Census tracts do not cross county 
boundaries. The spatial size of Census tracts varies widely 
depending on the density of settlement. Census tract boundaries are 
delineated with the intention of being maintained over a long time 
so that statistical comparisons can be made from Census to Census. 
However, physical changes in street patterns caused by highway 
construction, new development, or other reasons may require 
occasional revisions; Census tracts occasionally are split due to 
large population growth, or combined as a result of substantial 
population decline. See the Census Bureau's Web site at https://www.census.gov for more detailed information on its data gathering 
methodology.
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    Middle Mile means those components of a CCI project that provide 
broadband service from one or more centralized facilities, (i.e., the 
central office, the cable headend, the wireless switching station, or 
other equivalent centralized facility) to an Internet point of 
presence. The Middle Mile includes, among other things, the centralized 
facilities and all of the equipment in those facilities, except for any 
equipment that would qualify as part of a Last Mile component as 
defined in this NOFA.
    Middle Mile service area means the project service area, composed 
of one or more contiguous Census block groups or tracts, where the 
applicant is requesting BTOP funds to provide broadband service from 
one or more centralized facilities, (i.e., the central office, the 
cable headend, the wireless switching station, or other equivalent 
centralized facility) to an Internet point of presence.
    Pre-application expense means any reasonable expense incurred after 
the release of this NOFA up to the issuance of the grant award from 
NTIA to prepare an application. These expenses include engineering 
costs, accountant or other consultant fees, and costs related to 
developing the proposal. Lobbying costs and contingency fees are not 
included as pre-application expenses.
    Proposed funded service area means the total service area of a CCI 
project where broadband service will be provided.
    Public computer center means a place, including but not limited to 
community colleges, libraries, schools, youth centers, employment 
service centers, Native American chapter houses, community centers, 
senior centers, assistive technology centers for people with 
disabilities, community health centers, and Neighborhood Network 
Centers in public housing developments, that provide broadband access 
to the general public or a specific vulnerable population, such as low-
income, unemployed, aged, children, minorities, and people with 
disabilities.
    Recipient means any entity that receives Recovery Act funds 
directly from the Federal government (including Recovery Act funds 
received through a grant) other than an individual. This includes a 
State that receives Recovery Act funds.
    Recovery Act means the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 
2009, Pub. L. 111-5, 123 Stat. 115 (2009).
    Rural area means any area, as confirmed by the latest decennial 
Census of the U.S. Census Bureau, that is not located within: (i) A 
city, town, or incorporated area that has a population of greater than 
20,000 inhabitants; or (ii) an urbanized area contiguous and adjacent 
to a city or town that has a population of greater than 50,000 
inhabitants. For purposes of the definition of rural area, an urbanized 
area means a densely populated territory as defined in the latest 
decennial Census of the U.S. Census Bureau.
    Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Small Business Concern 
means a firm, together with its controlling interests and affiliates, 
with average gross revenue not exceeding $40 million for the preceding 
three years, and that meets the definition of a socially and 
economically disadvantaged small business concern under the Small 
Business Act.\29\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \29\ 15 U.S.C. 637(a)(4) (as modified by the Small Business 
Administration's approval of NTIA's request to adopt an alternative 
small business concern size standard for use in BTOP).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    State means, for purposes of BTOP, a State or political subdivision 
thereof, the District of Columbia, or a territory or possession of the 
United States.
    Sub-recipient means an entity that expends Recovery Act funds 
received through a subaward from a recipient to carry out a Federal 
program but does not include an individual who is a beneficiary of such 
a program.\30\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \30\ Implementing Guidance for Reports on Use of Funds Pursuant 
to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (OMB M-09-21 
June 22, 2009), available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/assets/memoranda_fy2009/m09-21.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Tribe means an Indian tribe that has the meaning given that term in 
Section 4(e) of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance 
Act.\31\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \31\ 25 U.S.C. 450b(e).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Underserved area means a Last Mile or Middle Mile service area, 
where at least one of the following factors is met: (i) No more than 50 
percent of the households in the Last Mile or Middle Mile service area 
have access to facilities-based, terrestrial broadband service at 
greater than the minimum broadband transmission speed (set forth in the 
definition of broadband above); (ii) no fixed or mobile terrestrial 
broadband service provider advertises to residential end users 
broadband transmission speeds of at least three megabits per second 
(``Mbps'') downstream in the Last Mile or Middle Mile service area; or 
(iii) the rate of terrestrial broadband subscribership for the Last 
Mile or Middle Mile service area is 40 percent of households or less.

[[Page 3799]]

An underserved area may include individual Census block groups or 
tracts that on their own would not be considered underserved. The 
availability of or subscribership rates for satellite broadband service 
is not considered for the purpose of determining whether an area is 
underserved.
    Unserved area means a Last Mile or Middle Mile service area where 
at least 90 percent of the households lack access to facilities-based, 
terrestrial broadband service, either fixed or mobile, at the minimum 
broadband transmission speed (set forth in the definition of broadband 
above). An unserved area may include individual Census block groups or 
tracts that on their own would not be considered unserved. A household 
has access to broadband service if the household readily can subscribe 
to that service upon request. The availability of or subscribership 
rates for satellite broadband service is not considered for the purpose 
of determining whether an area is unserved.

IV. Award Information

A. General

    Approximately $2.6 billion in budget authority has been set aside 
for funding opportunities under this NOFA. Publication of this NOFA 
does not obligate NTIA to award any specific project or obligate all of 
the available funds. Based on Round 1 experience, NTIA expects this 
grant round to be very competitive. During Round 1, RUS and NTIA 
received approximately 2,200 applications collectively requesting 
nearly $28 billion in Federal funds.

B. Funding Limits

    Approximately $2.6 billion is available to be awarded under this 
NOFA, which NTIA anticipates will be allocated in the following 
categories:
    a. Approximately $2.35 billion will be made available for CCI 
projects;
    b. At least $150 million will be made available for PCC projects; 
and
    c. At least $100 million will be made available for SBA projects.

C. Repooling

    Subject to the statutory thresholds set forth in the Recovery Act, 
NTIA retains the discretion to divert funds from one category of 
projects to another.

D. Unused Funds

    Funds remaining from the initial round of funding due to BTOP 
funding priorities or any other reason, and unused funds not awarded 
under the Broadband Mapping Program, may be used to augment the BTOP 
funding categories established above.\32\ NTIA reserves the right to 
reopen the application window or release subsequent NOFAs to ensure 
that all funds are awarded by September 30, 2010.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \32\ See supra note 6.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

E. Award Amount

    Given NTIA's Round 1 experience, NTIA expects to make awards within 
the following funding ranges. These ranges are not required minimums 
and maximums, but applicants requesting amounts for projects outside of 
these ranges must provide a reasoned explanation for the variance in 
their project size.

CCI: $5 million-$150 million
PCC: $500,000-$15 million
SBA: $500,000-$15 million

F. Award Period

    All awards under BTOP must be made no later than September 30, 
2010.\33\ While the completion time will vary depending on the 
complexity of the project, grant recipients must substantially complete 
projects supported by this Program no later than two years, and 
projects must be fully completed no later than three years, following 
the date of issuance of the grant award.\34\
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    \33\ Recovery Act sec. 6001(d)(2), 123 Stat. at 513.
    \34\ Id. Sec. 6001(d)(3), 123 Stat. at 513.
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G. Type of Funding Instrument

    The funding instrument will be a grant.

V. Eligibility Information for BTOP

    Applicants must satisfy the eligibility requirements set forth 
below in Sections V.A. through V.C. to qualify for funding. Applicants 
failing to comply with these requirements will not be considered for an 
award.

A. Eligible Entities

1. Applicant Organization
    The following entities are eligible to apply for funding:
    a. States, local governments, or any agency, subdivision, 
instrumentality, or political subdivision thereof;
    b. The District of Columbia;
    c. A territory or possession of the United States;
    d. An Indian tribe (as defined in Section 4 of the Indian Self-
Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 450b));
    e. A native Hawaiian organization;
    f. A non-profit foundation, a non-profit corporation, a non-profit 
institution, or a non-profit association;
    g. Other non-profit entities;
    h. For-profit corporations;
    i. Limited liability companies; and
    j. Cooperative or mutual organizations.
2. BTOP Public Interest Finding
    Section 6001(e)(1)(C) of the Recovery Act authorizes the Assistant 
Secretary to find by rule that it is in the public interest for any 
entity not otherwise encompassed by Section 6001(e)(1) to be eligible 
for a BTOP grant to the extent that such finding will promote the 
purposes of BTOP in a technology neutral manner. Consistent with the 
rationale set forth in the First NOFA,\35\ the Assistant Secretary 
found it to be in the public interest to permit for-profit corporations 
and non-profit entities (not otherwise encompassed by Section 
6001(e)(1)(B)) that are willing to promote the goals of the Recovery 
Act and comply with the statutory requirements of BTOP to be eligible 
for a grant. By adopting this broad approach, the Assistant Secretary 
intended to invite a diverse group of applicants to participate in BTOP 
and to expand broadband capabilities in a technology neutral 
manner.\36\ NTIA will continue to permit these same entities to apply 
for funding in this next round of awards.
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    \35\ See 74 FR at 33134 (July 9, 2009).
    \36\ Recovery Act sec. 6001(e)(1)(C), 123 Stat. at 513; 74 FR at 
33110.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

B. Fully Completed Application

    All applications will be evaluated initially to ensure that they 
are fully complete, certified, and contain all supporting 
documentation.

C. Cost Share/Matching

1. Matching Requirement
    In general, awardees under BTOP are required by statute to provide 
matching funds of at least 20 percent toward the total eligible costs 
of the project unless the Assistant Secretary grants a waiver. For 
costs to be eligible to meet matching requirements, they first must be 
allowable under the grant program. Eligible cost concepts are discussed 
in more detail in Section V.E. of this NOFA. Applicants must document 
in their application their capacity to provide matching funds. NTIA 
will provide up to 80 percent of the total eligible costs of the 
project, unless the applicant petitions the Assistant Secretary for a 
waiver of the matching requirement and that waiver is granted based on 
the applicant's demonstration of financial need, as discussed 
below.\37\
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    \37\ See id. sec. 6001(f), 123 Stat. at 514.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Generally, Federal funds may not be used as a cost match except as 
provided

[[Page 3800]]

by Federal statute.\38\ In-kind contributions, including third party 
in-kind contributions, are non-cash donations to a project that may 
count toward satisfying the non-Federal matching requirement of a 
project's total budget