The American Cable Association praised the Obama administration Tuesday for its announcement of a series of public forums on its new multi-billion broadband grant program, as well as its signal that it would streamline the application process--consistent with its mandate to closely monitor how the money is spent.
"An open process so our members will know how to apply for funding is vital," said ACA President Matt Polka in a statement. "ACA salutes the Obama Administration for planning a number of public sessions in Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, Nev., and Flagstaff, Ariz. on the best ways to design a program intended to benefit un-served communities."
Identified as an e-mail from Matt from the American Cable Association during a Q&A session during the first public broadband forum Tuesday at the Commerce Department, Polka asked whether the process would be streamlined, which is important for the small and mid-sized operators he represents who may not have the time or staff to run a bureaucratic gauntlet.
Bernadette McGuire-Rivera, the NTIA's point person for the administrative side of its grant program participation, said that she thought the process would be streamlined, both because it was a new program without any legacy forms and because the tight deadlines will necessitate it. She said she understood the concerns about a streamlined process and would work with applicants.
Mark Seifert, who will handle the policy portion for the program for NTIA, did add that didn't mean NTIA wouldn't be taking the time to make sure that the money was being given out in a "wise way."
"For too long, federal applications for loans and grants have imposed heavy administrative cost burdens on small cable companies," Polka said following the Tuesday morning meeting. "ACA is gratified that the Obama Administration is committed to an open, streamlined process with a minimum of red tape. ACA members look forward to sitting down with NTIA, FCC and Agriculture Department officials to discuss the needs of small cable companies interested in seeking grants and loans."