IG: NTIA should apply lessons to grants

The Commerce Department should apply lessons learned from its recent experience with distributing public safety communications grants to how it runs the new $4.7 billion broadband technologies grants program, according to a new report from the department’s Office of the Inspector General.

The inspector general’s four-page “Flash Report” published April 3 offers ideas on how Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) can best manage the new broadband grant program created under the economic stimulus lawt.

Under the broadband program, NTIA will make two-year competitive grants to states, nonprofit organizations, and broadband service providers. There is a 20 percent matching requirement and funding for the program office expires Sept. 30, 2010.

NTIA previously administered the $1 billion Public Safety Interoperable Communications program, which was established with revenues from the transition to digital television. That experience led to lessons learned that should be applied to the new broadband grant program, the IG  wrote.

The lessons learned are:

  • Seek to extend funding for the NTIA broadband grant program office beyond fiscal 2010 to ensure proper oversight.

  • Evaluate and approve detailed project proposals and spending plans with joint peer views before making grant awards.
  • Promptly complete an environmental assessment of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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