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NY Times Highlights Some Broadband Stimulus Shenanigans
Though Program Overall Appears to be Doing its Job
by Karl Bode 08:40AM Tuesday Feb 12 2013
While investing some money into broadband infrastructure (especially given the amount we spend on war) is not a bad idea, implementation in many states has been problematic. West Virginia has probably been the poster child for corruption and incompetence when it comes to broadband stimulus funds, the state (with Verizon's help) spending millions on over-power, unused routers and expensive consultants who apparently don't actually do anything. That State's currently facing a significant investigation.

The NY Times this week misses West Virginia's problems, but takes a look at some other examples of funds being spent stupidly, noting that around $594 million (or 14%) of all the stimulus funds are on hold due to dubious practices and spending. A few examples:
quote:
In Illinois, for example, a $12 million broadband grant was sanctioned when a subcontractor was caught routing fiber optic cable through neighborhoods where its project engineers lived. A $39 million grant in Arizona was suspended over questionable expenditures on travel, transactions that appeared to involve conflicts of interest and other unbudgeted activities.

Broadband grants in Alabama and Louisiana, totaling $140 million, were terminated over undocumented expenditures and failure to adhere to construction plans and schedules. Four other grants, worth $42 million, returned the money before even getting off the ground.
Granted you might actually think that a 14% fraud and incompetence rate is actually pretty good for a U.S. government with a history of fraud and abuse of these kinds of funds. The Times also fails to provide a little context, like the fact we've been throwing hundreds of billions at giant telecom operators for thirty years without so much as even trying to track where the funds went.

Regardless of what you think of the broadband stimulus, the fact that the majority of the funds appear to actually be going to real projects is a huge step up for Uncle Sam.

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pandora
Premium
join:2001-06-01
Outland
kudos:2

Government mismanaging funds?

I'm shocked, shocked!
Automate

join:2001-06-26
Atlanta, GA

14 percent are only the ones that got caught

I'm sure the waste is much higher than that.
silbaco
Premium
join:2009-08-03
USA

NY

They are just mad they didn't get the funds in NY.

Regardless, it should have been given out like they do for the Rural Utility service. In the form of very low interest loans, that way the money isn't wasted.

bebcom

@wayport.net

NFBA

This entity burned thru $31 M and have just a handful of customers and little to no revenue. Allegations of waste, fraud and Fed level cover up have been reported locally. This must be prevalent nationwide...where is OIG oversight?
daveburstein

join:2011-04-07
New York, NY

Wish it were true

But I think about 70% of the BTOP money was wasted. 14% have been so bad NTIA did something about them, but many, many others proved a mistake.

Not good enough for government work.

zenuk

@gannett.com

sucks for WV

sucks WV had to go and do this because this state could have really used an infrastructure update. Frontier is running DSL on borrowed time and it is so bad out here that entire towns lose internet which brings local commerce to a halt, yet 15 miles away in Winchester, VA that have it all. Not even Comcast wants to try and take business away from Frontier by running lines.