Broadband Funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)
Since the enactment of the ARRA, Wiley Rein has advised numerous clients about the broadband funding programs established by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS). Wiley Rein's clients have received approximately $450 million in broadband infrastructure awards from NTIA and RUS, which represents nearly 5% of the total awards announced to date. In addition to assisting clients in obtaining ARRA funding, Wiley Rein routinely counsels clients about ARRA compliance matters.
With award announcements under the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) nearly complete, it is critical that awardees understand the obligations that come with receiving federal funds. Along with the increase in federal spending, the government has taken steps to strengthen oversight and expand federal efforts to combat waste, fraud, and abuse by recipients of federal funds. As a result, recipients of BTOP and BIP awards can expect to face close scrutiny on their use of those funds.
In particular, award recipients under BTOP and BIP must navigate a complex set of statutes, regulations, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) circulars, and other agency and program-specific requirements that touch on virtually every aspect of their businesses. BTOP and BIP awardees will be required to, among other things:
- Maintain a written code of conduct;
- Follow government contract cost principles;
- Implement procurement procedures;
- Comply with environmental regulations; and
- Meet certain record retention and reporting obligations.
In addition, contracts as well as loans and grants funded by ARRA are subject to a number of additional restrictions, including rigid oversight mechanisms and audit exposure, conflict of interest rules, "Buy American" restrictions, and mandatory disclosure obligations for federal grantees that uncover "credible evidence" of fraud and other wrongdoing in connection with the receipt or use of ARRA funds.
A BTOP or BIP awardee must ensure that its policies, practices, and procedures conform with all of these various obligations, and Wiley Rein can assist with this effort. The firm's team of experts includes a former NTIA Administrator, a former RUS Administrator and other experienced practitioners who are well versed in the requirements of BTOP, BIP, and the ARRA. Wiley Rein routinely advises federal contractors and funding recipients—both large and small—on meeting their obligations when doing business with the federal government. In addition, the firm frequently counsels clients regarding environmental issues and performs compliance audits for contractors and awardees of all sizes, in all industries, to ensure that their business systems and internal controls meet all applicable contract and funding requirements.
In some respects, getting an award under BTOP and BIP was the easy part. Now comes the even more challenging part, as BTOP and BIP awardees work to comply with the terms of their award and navigate the complicated rubric of government rules and regulations. Wiley Rein can help, and we welcome the opportunity to do so.
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