The Minority Media & Telecommunications Counsel has asked the National Telecommunications & Information
Administration to give any money left over from the broadband stimulus program (BTOP) to the small and
disadvantaged businesses who applied for but did not get grant money.
NTIA had a tad under $4.7 billion in stimulus money to give out to companies pledging to deploy broadband to unserved and underserved populations, schools and libraries, and to help train and educate. It picked the last of those grantees in September.
The House Communications Subcommittee is holding an oversight hearing Feb. 10 on the BTOP program , which House Republicans have criticized as susceptible to waste and fraud. According to a hearing notification e-mail, the Republicans plan tocirculate draft legislation in advance of the hearing. The bill would "increase accountability" for the stimulus spending and "return unused or reclaimed broadband stimulus funds to the U.S. Treasury."
But rather than have it go to the treasury, MMTC President David Honig asked NTIA chief Lawrence Strickling to give some of the inevitable "spillover" of dollars to small businesses. In a letter, a copy of which was supplied to B&C, Honig pointed out that while the money was one of the largest ever for which small and disadvantaged businesses (SDBs) qualified, "only four of the 233 BTOP awards went to SDB prime grantees, and only 62 projects, or 27% of all projects even include SDBs as partners."
He said this would be a chance to rectify that.