What happened to the 2009 Broadband Initiative money?

rps20121203_024625_970I’d like to learn what happened to the billions of dollars that were part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Broadband Initiative. All that I can find is reports of meetings filled with pontificating windbags. When I learned that Miami’s WLRN-FM planned to air an interview with Michael Grunwald, the author of a new book titled THE NEW NEW DEAL about the 2009 Stimulus, I listened. The interview aired on Monday 1 October’s Topical Currents show and was conducted by Ariel Gonzalez. I was certain that they’d cover the 2009 Broadband Initiative. They didn’t.

I don’t know where online to learn what happened to the 2009 Broadband Initiative money. Can you help me, please?

Instead what they did was congratulate each other on how liberal each is, what an omniscient President Mr. Obama is, what a surprisingly astute manager Vice President Joe Biden is, and how few dollars were wasted. It was, on a public radio station that’s supported in part by taxpayer dollars, an hour-long advertisement for Democrats by a Democrat interviewer of a Democrat author about a dubious Democrat expenditure of taxpayer dollars. It was a new low-point for WLRN-FM.

Oct 21, 2012: I found a page on NTIA’s website with links to a description.of the disbursement of funds to each state. Florida has received almost 9 million dollars for studies and improvement of bandwidth to public libraries. To a cynic, this sounds like make-work by a bloated government that just keeps growing larger and less effective.

It’s difficult to discern the exact total dollar amount designated for Florida, since some grant recipients span multiple states. Most of the grant descriptions sound worthwhile. Have any of their plans become reality? I’ll need to drill down into each grant recipient, I guess.

Some states report that they’ve created new offices with their grants. Read: more government jobs. Some of the project descriptions for many states sound like they were written with the assistance of a B.S. generator. This paragraph appears in many states’ reports:

This project was originally funded for broadband planning activities and two years of data collection. In September of 2010, this project was amended to extend data collection activities for an additional three years and to identify and implement best practices.

Government bloats quickly, and almost never thins down.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

6 thoughts on “What happened to the 2009 Broadband Initiative money?”

  1. I have no idea. But I’d start here, and maybe review the docs submitted to Congress.

    The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act appropriated $7.2 billion for the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) to expand broadband access and adoption in communities across the U.S., which will increase jobs, spur investments in technology and infrastructure, and provide long-term economic benefits.


    DOC Broadband Technology Opportunities
     The U.S. Department of Commerce has a $4.7 billion stimulus money earmark for a program similar to the USDA’s Broadband Initiative Program, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program. The program awards money to help rural areas and several other project areas, such as those involving public safety or disabilities. Awards can be worth tens of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars.
    Broadband Technology Opportunities Program
    1401 Constitution Ave., NW
    Washington, DC 20230
    1. USDA Broadband Initiatives
     The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Services administers an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant to expand broadband in rural areas. The Broadband Initiatives Program provides grants and loans to help communities update their Internet services. The Recovery Act earmarked $2.5 billion for the USDA as part of the broadband promotion.
    Broadband Initiatives Program
    Rural Utilities Service
    U.S. Department of Agriculture
    1400 Independence Ave., SW, Stop 1599
    Washington, DC 20250
    USDA Distance Learning and Medicine
     The USDA targets its Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program specifically at rural areas. The department awards grants between $50,000 and $500,000 for schools and health care providers to connect with broadband. Recipients must match at least 15 percent of the grant totals. Schools and health care providers can use the grants to pay for equipment, programming, training and other technical assistance.
    1400 Independence Ave., SW, Room 5151
    Washington, DC 20250
    USDA Community Connect
     The USDA Office of Rural Development offers financial assistance to rural areas where “broadband service is least likely to be available, but where it can make a tremendous difference in the quality of life,” according to the office’s website. The department says it offers the grants as a way for communities to use the advantages of the Internet to foster growth in business development, home ownership and infrastructure. The agency says it has provided more than $76.8 million and created more than 1.5 million jobs through the program since it began in 2001.
    1400 Independence Ave., SW, Room 5151
    Washington, DC 20250


  2. I’m going to guess that finding the $$ will not be an easy project. There was little oversight of funds allocated for all projects, so there is likely a lot of waste if not actual fraud.

    Even Obama admitted that much of the money was not spent properly — and actually joked about it!!

    While meeting with his Jobs and Competitiveness Council today in Durham, N.C., President Obama cracked wise about one of his administration’s early catchphrases.
    Remember “shovel-ready projects.”
    Those were construction projects in the 2009 stimulus bill that were supposed to get moving right away — but jobs council members told Obama today that some got held up because of elaborate government regulations and permitting procedures.

    Here is an example of $$ allocated for Homeland Security, a fairly important area. The committee in charge of it can’t even agree on the spending of its funds:

    Federal report cites unfinished Philadelphia counterterrorism center as flawed
    Philadelphia’s sluggish efforts to build and staff a counterterrorism center came under an unflattering spotlight Wednesday when a U.S. Senate report criticized oversight of a project that has spent roughly $2.3 million in federal money since 2006 but that has barely gotten launched.
    The report asserts that as of August, the “fusion center” – intended as an intelligence-sharing crossroads for city, state, federal, and port officials from around the region – still didn’t exist.
    At one point, state officials blocked federal aid for the center because of a request for construction money, a prohibited use, the report found.
    Homeland Security’s “insistence on listing fusion centers with no physical presence is not only puzzling, but raises questions about its entire assessment process,” said the bipartisan report released by Sens. Carl Levin (D., Mich.) and Tom Coburn (R., Okla.), the top members of the Homeland Security Committee’s investigations subcommittee.

    The slow-going project was dragged into a controversy Wednesday that left even some Washington insiders scratching their heads.
    It was one element included in a 141-page report that harshly criticized fusion centers nationwide and the federal Department of Homeland Security, saying the sites had produced little valuable intelligence and often wasted taxpayers’ money.

    The report, stemming from a two-year investigation started by Coburn, used Philadelphia’s unfinished center as one example of what the authors saw as poor oversight of federal money.
    But some key members of the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees criticized the findings by one of their own subcommittees, saying the report was incomplete and painted with too broad a brush.
    The investigation is “out of date, inaccurate, and misleading,” said a statement from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
    The report’s legislative critics, who defended the fusion centers, included the Senate committee’s chairman, Joe Lieberman (Ind., Conn.), and the panel’s top Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, plus U.S. Rep. Peter T. King (R., N.Y.) chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
    Their critiques created the spectacle of members of the same committee and same party coming to vastly different conclusions about the value of the fusion centers, a concept that grew out of realizations that various intelligence agencies had failed to “connect the dots” in time to prevent the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
    U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan (R., Pa.), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee and former U.S. attorney for Eastern Pennsylvania, said the Philadelphia fusion center was “very slow to develop” and that the centers in general “continue to develop in a very disjointed fashion.”
    Most of the heavy lifting on information-sharing and antiterrorism work is handled by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces, Meehan said Wednesday in an interview.



    1. Thanks again for the information, Sue. So far, I’ve not discovered how much money went where. I confess that I’m inexperienced at researching government spending.

      I wonder how much tax money broadband.gov soaks up? Did it require the creation of yet another government agency and more government jobs? (It would help make the scandalous unemployment numbers look better.)

      What I have found are reports of 2009 Broadband Initiative pep rallies (called workshops or symposiums) attended by Obama fanboys who like nothing better than spending tax dollars on “high tech”, even if they don’t know the difference between a megabit and a megabyte.


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