The problem in Texas was that the State was that the RFP was done too quickly, it was open to nonprofit organizations only – and worst of all, that nonprofit status requirement was not clearly stated. (There’s more but that’s the Reader’s Digest version.) In the end, the contract went to Connected Nation.
In Tennessee, there wasn’t a RFP – the contract was simply awarded to Connected Nation – because they had done a good job with Kentucky and this was a similar project. Naturally “good job” is in the eye of the beholder. Also once you look at the contract it focuses on branding as being as much a primary goal as mapping.
So that’s the article from Public Knowledge.
All of this reminds me of how quickly the stimulus funding applications will go as well and how that gives the advantage to the slick – not necessarily the ones who need it. Now it’s been a big game of hurry up and wait for potential applicants – but once the NOFA is out (and shouldn’t that be today if they want to hit the before July 1 deadline?) it will go fast.
A huge part of the process is how you write the application – and I am concerned that the best and/or most deserving projects won’t have what it takes to get the best application done in time – after all that’s part of what made them the un- and underserved in the first place. If they were slick – they’d have better broadband already!
I hope that we’ll see more partnerships like the Blandin Foundation, Lake County and Hiawatha Broadband where folks with NOFA (or at least proposal) experience are partnering with the folks who need the help.