February __, 2010 Dear Colleague: I know that you join me in supporting the important goals of the broadband stimulus

program within the Recovery Act. For job creation and economic recovery in general, our nation simply cannot continue to slip behind other developed countries in the availability and adoption of broadband services. Study after study has demonstrated that our rural areas will never achieve the job growth and economic vitality our citizens deserve unless we can see ubiquitous broadband deployment across rural America. No less critically, we can no longer tolerate the continuing urban digital divide in which large numbers constituents in cities either do not have broadband readily available, or cannot adopt broadband services because of cost. I am writing today, as a strong supporter of the broadband stimulus program in the Act and of the President’s efforts to finally put national broadband issues front and center in our policy agenda, to ask your support and co-signature on our communication being sent to the Secretaries of Agriculture and Commerce about the program. The tremendous oversubscription of applications (nearly 2,200) submitted for funding Round I has placed a tremendous burden on the two agencies administering the effort. Now, with the care and diligence shown by the agencies – NTIA at Commerce, and RUS at Agriculture – in reviewing those applicants, and in awarding the initial grants and loans, the program is up against a very tight application window for Round II (February 16 – March 15). Additionally, and importantly, adequate information about Round I awarded and rejected applications is not being released by the agencies so that Round I applicants that were not awarded funds can know why such decision were made. Taken together these factors of time and frankly of a lack of transparency in the program, mean that your constituents and mine that need federal funds for broadband deployment, public computing centers, and sustainable broadband adoption are being greatly disadvantaged by the current processes of the program. I would welcome your co-signature on the attached letters to Secretaries Locke and Vilsack, for the benefit of our constituents, and for the improvement of an important program.

Sincerely,

_________________

Secretary Gary Locke U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Tom Vilsack U.S. Department of Agriculture Dear Mr. Secretaries Locke and Vilsack, We are writing to you today to thank you for moving ahead with the implementation of the broadband stimulus provisions of the Recovery Act. For job creation and economic recovery in general, our nation simply cannot continue to slip behind other developed countries in the availability and adoption of broadband services. Study after study has demonstrated that our rural areas will never achieve the job growth and economic vitality our citizens deserve unless we can see ubiquitous broadband deployment across rural America. No less critically, we can no longer tolerate the continuing urban digital divide in which large numbers constituents in cities either do not have broadband readily available, or cannot adopt broadband services because of cost. We are writing today, as strong supporters of the broadband stimulus program in the Act and of the President’s efforts to finally put national broadband issues front and center in our policy agenda. We ask for your expeditious support in resolving three (3) issues of program implementation which our constituents have turned to us for assistance. The tremendous oversubscription of applications (nearly 2,200) submitted for funding Round I has placed a tremendous burden on the two agencies administering the effort. Now, with the care and diligence shown by the agencies – NTIA at Commerce, and RUS at Agriculture – in reviewing those applicants, and in awarding the initial grants and loans, the program is up against a very tight application window for Round II (February 16 – March 15). Additionally, and importantly, adequate information about Round I awarded and rejected applications is not being released by the agencies so that Round I applicants that were not awarded funds can know why such decision were made. Taken together these factors of time and frankly of a lack of transparency in the program, mean that applicants for funds in our districts, and in our are being greatly disadvantaged by the current processes of the program. We strongly urge you to immediately direct your appropriate agencies to execute the following three (3) items: 1. Extend the funding Round II application deadline from the current deadline of March 15 to a new deadline of April 30th. Public interest organizations like the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA), the Center for Rural Strategies, Native Public Media, the Benton Foundation, and the New America Foundation have already recommended this deadline change publicly.

2. Release all information about Round I applications, awards, and rejections, to the extent that such data has not been requested by the applicants to be held as proprietary, so that Round II applicants (including Round I applicants that have been rejected) will have a fully open and transparent view of the critical information required for their Round II submittals. 3. Allow for at least a four (4) week period between the new Round II application filing deadline of April 30th and the public award of all grant and loan monies in Round I, with the appropriate release of data regarding each award and rejection.

We believe these three (3) simple changes to the program will greatly benefit the program itself, and our constituents that truly need and welcome your assistance with the broadband future for our nation.

Sincerely,

___________________

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