There was some big news out of today's Senate Commerce Committee oversight 
hearing on the BIP/BTOP programs, which just ended.  Copies of the prepared 
testimony by the RUS, NTIA and OMB witnesses are attached but, as usual, the 
best information came out in the oral testimony.

The big news relates to the schedule for making grants under the first NoFA.  
In his testimony, NTIA Administrator Larry Strickling announced that 
application processing is proceeding slower than anticipated.  As a result, he 
announced that the first BTOP applications will not be granted until 
mid-December, and that processing applications under the first NoFA will not be 
completed until February 2010.  RUS Administrator Jonathan Adelstein announced 
that RUS will begin issuing awards "as soon as possible" but that November 7th 
date will "slip" and that RUS expects to begin making announcements a month 
after the initially scheduled November 7th date.

During the course of his testimony, Strickling made reference to the upcoming 
Request for Information regarding the second NoFA, but did not give any 
indication as to when it will be released.  Adelstein noted that it would be 
released "shortly."

During the questioning, Sen. Rockefeller and others again expressed unhappiness 
with the "remote" definition adopted by RUS.  Not surprisingly, Adelstein 
committed to "completely review" the definition when comments are filed in 
response to the FRI., and concedes that there are "real problems" with the 
current definition.

In response to concerns raised regarding lack of mapping and funding of areas 
that are served by private enterprise, Adelstein mentioned that RUS is focusing 
on funding deployments in unserved areas.

Finally, in response to a Rockefeller question regarding the problems stemming 
from the shotgun marriage of RUS and NTIA, both Administrators identified the 
reluctance of applicants to seek BIP loans (that stretch dollars), when they 
can instead secure BTOP grants.  Strickling made clear that they will look at 
this issue in preparing the second NoFA, but also stated that he was not sure 
they would change the agencies' approaches.  Throughout the hearing, Adelstein 
continued to emphasize the benefits of using loans to leverage the funds 
available.  So, while NTIA is statutorily restricted to 80% grants and no 
loans, RUS may not take advantage of its flexibility to change the 50%/50% 
grant-loan split.

For further details and to download hearing transcripts:

Feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions (or if you want to 
get sold on something =)



Charles Wu<>
cell: 773-870-0962 * office: 847-346-0990 x2500

16W235 83rd Street, Suite A, Burr Ridge, IL 
60527<> * tel: 847.346.0990 fax: 

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