Search Penny Hill Press

Loading...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Distribution of Broadband Stimulus Grants and Loans: Applications and Awards

Lennard G. Kruger
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, P.L. 111-5) provided $7.2 billion primarily for broadband grant and loan programs to be administered by two separate agencies: the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The NTIA grant program is called the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP). The RUS broadband grant and loan program is called the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP).

There are two rounds of ARRA broadband funding. The first round award announcements have concluded, and the announcement of second round awards began on July 2, 2010. As of September 9, 2010, 441 BTOP and BIP awards have been announced totaling $6.2 billion ($5.1 billion in grants, $1.1 billion in loans). Of this total, $3.1 billion has been awarded by BTOP, and $3.1 billion has been awarded by BIP. Additional BTOP and BIP awards will be announced through September 30, 2010.

This report focuses on the distribution of ARRA broadband funding with respect to project category, program, technology deployed, state-by-state distribution, and other factors. Based on first round applications and awards data, the following observations can be made: 
  • The amount of funding awarded in the first round was about 57% of the available funding levels published in the first round Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA). 
  • Of all broadband infrastructure projects awarded in the first round, middle mile projects received more funding than last mile projects (53% vs. 47% of total funding for infrastructure). 
  • Of all first round broadband infrastructure funding, most (70%) was awarded to projects serving predominantly rural areas. However, a breakdown of the project categories awards data shows that while all last mile projects have been rural, the majority of middle mile funding has been awarded to projects serving nonrural areas. 
  • Nonremote last mile rural projects were funded more heavily than remote area last mile rural projects. 
  • Public notice responses were filed by existing service providers for 71% of all funded first round infrastructure projects. Public notice responses were filed for 89% of all middle mile projects and 70% of last mile nonremote projects. By contrast, one out of the 13 (8%) last mile remote area applications received a public notice response from an existing service provider. 
Congress will likely continue to monitor how the stimulus broadband grants and loans are being distributed. To the extent that Congress may consider whether certain broadband grant and loan programs should be expanded, the funding patterns and trends that emerge during rounds one and two could provide insights into whether such programs should be expanded, and if so, how these or similar programs might be fashioned within the context of a national broadband policy. .


Date of Report: September 9, 2010
Number of Pages: 22
Order Number: R41164
Price: $29.95

Follow us on TWITTER at
http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail
Penny Hill Press  or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Monday, September 27, 2010

America COMPETES Act and theFY2010 Budget


John F. Sargent Jr.
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

The America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69) became law on August 9, 2007. The act is intended to increase the nation’s investment in research and development (R&D), and in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. It is intended to address two concerns believed to influence U.S. competitiveness: the adequacy of R&D funding to generate sufficient technological progress, and the adequacy of the number of American students proficient in STEM or interested in STEM careers relative to other countries.

The act authorizes funding increases for the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) laboratories, and the Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE SC) over FY2008-FY2010. If the rate of increase provided for in the act were maintained, funding for these agencies would double, in nominal terms, in seven years. The act establishes the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) within DOE to support transformational energy technology research projects to enhance U.S. economic and energy security. A new program, Discovery Science and Engineering Innovation Institutes, is intended to support the establishment of multidisciplinary institutes at DOE national laboratories to apply fundamental science and engineering discoveries to technological innovations.

Among the act’s education activities, many of which are focused on high-need school districts, are programs to recruit new K-12 STEM teachers, enhance existing STEM teacher skills, and provide more STEM education opportunities for students. The new Department of Education (ED) Teachers for a Competitive Tomorrow and the existing NSF Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship programs provide opportunities, through institutional grants, for students pursuing STEM degrees and STEM professionals to gain teaching skills and teacher certification, and for current STEM teachers to enhance their teaching skills and STEM knowledge. The act also authorizes a new program at NSF that would provide grants to create or improve professional science master’s degree (PSM) programs that emphasize practical training and preparation for the workforce in high-need fields.

The America COMPETES Act provides authorization levels through FY2010. New programs established by the act will not be initiated, and authorized increases in appropriations for existing programs will not occur, unless funded through appropriation acts. The 110
th Congress provided FY2008 appropriations to establish ED’s Teachers for a Competitive Tomorrow program, and NIST’s Technology Improvement Program (TIP), which replaced the agency’s Advanced Technology Program. The 111th Congress provided FY2009 appropriations, supplemented by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), to establish DOE’s ARPA-E and NSF’s PSM program.

Congress has completed action on the regular FY2010 appropriations acts, providing funding for some programs authorized under the American COMPETES Act through two acts. Some America COMPETES Act research and STEM education programs received appropriations at authorized levels in FY2010, others did not. FY2010 funding for programs at the Department of Commerce, National Science Foundation, and Department of Education is provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (P.L. 111-117). Funding for Department of Energy programs is provided by the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 (P.L. 111-85). Several programs newly authorized in the act have never been appropriated funds, nor did President Obama seek funding for them in his FY2010 budget request. Congress is considering reauthorizing the America COMPETES Act. 
.


Date of Report: September 16, 2010
Number of Pages: 24
Order Number: R40519
Price: $29.95

Follow us on TWITTER at
http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail
Penny Hill Press  or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Broadband Infrastructure Programs in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act


Lennard G. Kruger
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, P.L. 111-5) provided $7.2 billion primarily for broadband grant programs to be administered by two separate agencies: the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Of the $7.2 billion total, the ARRA provided $4.7 billion to establish a Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) at NTIA, and $2.5 billion as funding for broadband grant, loan, and loan/grant combination programs at RUS. Broadband grants and loans funded by the ARRA are competitive and applicants must apply directly to NTIA and RUS. The NTIA appropriation also included $350 million for a national broadband inventory map, funding for the Broadband Data Improvement Act (P.L. 110-385), and funding to be transferred to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to develop a national broadband plan.

The unprecedented scale and scope of the ARRA broadband programs, coupled with the short time frame for awarding grants, presents daunting challenges with respect to program implementation as well as Congressional oversight. Congress is closely monitoring how equitably and effectively broadband grants are allocated among states and the various stakeholders, and to what extent the programs fulfill the goals of short term job creation and the longer term economic benefits anticipated from improved broadband availability, access, and adoption. A continuing issue is how to strike a balance between providing federal assistance for unserved and underserved areas where the private sector may not be providing acceptable levels of broadband service, while at the same time minimizing any deleterious effects that government intervention in the marketplace may have on competition and private sector investment.

There are two rounds of broadband funding. The first funding round was announced with the release of a Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) on July 1, 2009. The NOFA contained eligibility requirements, application rules and procedures, and evaluation criteria for BTOP at NTIA and for the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) at RUS.

The second round NOFAs for BTOP and BIP were released on January 15, 2010. With respect to infrastructure, BTOP is funding middle mile projects, while BIP is focusing primarily on last mile projects. Significant changes made from the first round NOFA, include: simplifying application procedures, reorienting BTOP infrastructure grants towards comprehensive community middle mile projects, eliminating the BIP remote last mile project category, and adding a separate BIP Satellite Project category.

As of September 9, 2010, 441 BTOP and BIP awards have been announced totaling $6.2 billion ($5.1 billion in grants, $1.1 billion in loans). Of this total, $3.1 billion has been awarded by BTOP, and $3.1 billion has been awarded by BIP. Additional BTOP and BIP awards will be announced through September 30, 2010. 
.


Date of Report: September 9, 2010
Number of Pages: 26
Order Number: R40436
Price: $29.95

Follow us on TWITTER at
http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail
Penny Hill Press  or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2011


John F. Sargent Jr., Coordinator
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

President Obama has requested $147.696 billion for research and development (R&D) in FY2011, a $343 million (0.2%) increase from the estimated FY2010 R&D funding level of $147.353 billion. Congress will play a central role in defining the nation’s R&D priorities, especially with respect to two overarching issues: the extent to which the federal R&D investment can grow in the context of increased pressure on discretionary spending and how available funding will be prioritized and allocated. Low or negative growth in the overall R&D investment may require movement of resources across disciplines, programs, or agencies to address priorities. This report will be updated as Congress acts on appropriations bills that include funding for research, development and related funding.

Under the President’s request, six federal agencies would receive 94.8% of total federal R&D spending: the Department of Defense (DOD, 52.5%), Department of Health and Human Services (largely the National Institutes of Health) (21.8%), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (7.4%), Department of Energy (7.6%), National Science Foundation (3.8%), and Department of Agriculture (1.7%). NASA would receive the largest dollar increase for R&D of any agency, $1.700 billion (18.3%) above its FY2010 funding level. The DOD would receive the largest reduction in R&D funding, $3.542 billion (4.4%) below its FY2010 level.

The President’s FY2011 request includes: $31.341 billion for basic research, up $1.339 billion (4.5%) from FY2010; $30.276 billion for applied research, up $1.949 billion (6.9%); $81.455 billion for development, down $2.918 billion (3.5%); and $4.624 billion for R&D facilities and equipment, down $27 million (0.6%). The FY2011 request includes funding for three multiagency R&D initiatives: the National Nanotechnology Initiative, $1.776 billion, down $5 million (0.3%); the Networking and Information Technology R&D program, $4.281 billion, down $9 million (0.2%); and the U.S. Global Change Research Program, $2.561 billion, up $439 million (20.7%).

President Obama has requested increases in the R&D budgets of the three agencies that were targeted for doubling in the America COMPETES Act (over seven years) and by President Bush under his American Competitiveness Initiative (over ten years) as measured using FY2006 R&D funding as the baseline. Under President Obama’s FY2011 budget, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science would receive an increase of $226 million (4.6%), the National Science Foundation’s budget would rise by $551 million (8.0%), and funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s core research and facilities would grow by $48 million (7.3%).

As of August 19, 2010, two of the 12 regular appropriations bills have passed the House: the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2011, and the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2011; none have passed the Senate. For the past four years, federal R&D funding and execution has been affected by mechanisms used to complete the annual appropriations process— the year-long continuing resolution for FY2007 (P.L. 110-5) and the combining of multiple regular appropriations bills into the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 for FY2008 (P.L. 110- 161), the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 (P.L. 111-8), and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (P.L. 111-117). Completion of appropriations after the beginning of each fiscal year may cause agencies to delay or cancel some planned R&D and equipment acquisition.



Date of Report: September 15, 2010
Number of Pages: 53
Order Number: R41098
Price: $29.95

Follow us on TWITTER at
http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail
Penny Hill Press  or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Spyware: Background and Policy Issues for Congress


Patricia Moloney Figliola
Specialist in Internet and Telecommunications Policy

The term “spyware” generally refers to any software that is downloaded onto a computer without the owner’s or user’s knowledge. Spyware may collect information about a computer user’s activities and transmit that information to someone else. It may change computer settings, or cause “pop-up” advertisements to appear (in that context, it is called “adware”). Spyware may redirect a Web browser to a site different from what the user intended to visit, or change the user’s home page. A type of spyware called “keylogging” software records individual keystrokes, even if the author modifies or deletes what was written, or if the characters do not appear on the monitor. Thus, passwords, credit card numbers, and other personally identifiable information may be captured and relayed to unauthorized recipients.

Some of these software programs have legitimate applications the computer user wants. They obtain the moniker “spyware” when they are installed surreptitiously, or perform additional functions of which the user is unaware. Users typically do not realize that spyware is on their computer. They may have unknowingly downloaded it from the Internet by clicking within a website, or it might have been included in an attachment to an electronic mail message (e-mail) or embedded in other software.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a consumer alert on spyware in October 2004. It provided a list of warning signs that might indicate that a computer is infected with spyware, and advice on what to do if it is. Additionally, the FTC has consumer information on spyware that includes a link to file a complaint with the commission through its “OnGuard Online” website.

Several states have passed spyware laws, but there is no specific federal law and no legislation has been introduced thus far in the 111
th Congress.


Date of Report: September 8, 2010
Number of Pages: 10
Order Number: RL32706
Price: $29.95

Follow us on TWITTER at
http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail
Penny Hill Press  or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.