Tales of the Sausage Factory

Why NTIA Should Tell NARUC “Thanks, But We Can Manage the Stimulus Spending Just Fine.”

OK, I get that when you are a trade association you push for your members. But this is silly.

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) has sent a letter to the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) and the USDA Rural Utility Service (RUS) explaining how the only, possible conceivable way for them to spend the $7.2 Billion they must spend under the Broadband Stimulus package is to send all the applications to NARUC’s members to evaluate. This way, the poor little overworked NTIA and RUS won’t have to worry their pretty little heads about anything. You can read NARUC’s press release here.

The appeal to administrative convenience is a convention one. And, like most conventional wisdom on the stimulus package — utterly wrong. For a start, Congress actually realized this would take resources. So NTIA can use up to 3% of the money for Administrative costs associated with running the program. The idea that poor little NTIA, forced to focus on the DTV transition and coupon program (which happens in June) can’t possibly manage to process all these applications is rather ridiculous in light of the fact that NTIA can spend Over $150 million on administrative costs. I think you can hire a bunch of real sharp, real experienced grant evaluators for that. Bluntly, such folks will do a heck of a lot better job of evaluating grant proposals than NARUC, as I explain below . . . .

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Posted in Tales of the Sausage Factory, The Stimulus Package (ARRA) | Also tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Obama Moving Appointments Along in Telecom — Strickling Named, Genachowski & Adelstein Likely to Go Late April/Early May.

The Obama Administration has nominated Larry Strickling for the post of Administrator of the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA). While long anticipated, the nomination was delayed until Commerce actually had a Secretary — it being polite to give the person running the Department at least the opportunity for input into who his assistant secretaries will be. It also looks like, contrary to my analysis last week, that Genachowski may come on board as soon as late April/Early May when Congress comes back from recess rather than after the DTV transition in June, and that Adelstein will simultaneously move to RUS. This would mean that the Obama administration would have their primary media/telecom team on board within the first 100 days, with the balance of the FCC waiting for the Republicans to come to some sort of consensus on whom to recommend for the second Republican slot.

More below . . .

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Posted in Life In The Sausage Factory, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

My Day With the Reps, or Today I Am A Wonk.

Every profession has its little milestones. As a confirmed Washington policy wonk, I’ve always wanted to testify before Congress (in a situation where I did not have to take the Fifth). Well, TODAY I AM A WONK. (Actually, it was Thursday, September 21.) I testified at the House hearing on ICANN. You can read some of the (very light) news coverage here, and my official testimony here (executive summary here), and you can listen to an audio of the hearing by going here and clicking on the relevant link.

For my personal observations and comments, see below….

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Posted in Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , | 3 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

The last wireless believer has left the Federal Building

Michael Gallagher, the Assistant Secretary in charge of the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) is leaving. It looks like a bleak year for those who believe that more spectrum made available to the public will bring greater economic propserity and freedom of speech for all.

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