Florida broadband projects under scrutiny

Florida is facing an investigation of its broadband expansion plan. The federal government has suspended a $30.1 million grant award to the North Florida Broadband Authority amidst allegations of poor supervision of the project and waste. Work has already been stopped on the project which was set to bring high-speed broadband to 14 Florida counties.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Grants Office which is administering the grant received allegations of improper management and has opted to review whether the grant can continue to be awarded. The city of Tallahassee has already had to return $1.2 million in grant funding after it faced similar allegations.

Among the allegations are questions about overall project management and vendor supervision. The National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) is investigating the charges and has said it is committed to ensuring rigorous oversight of all of grant funds.

The North Florida Broadband Authority has until October to present a revised project management plan that addresses the allegations. In the meantime, the NTIA and the NOAA will move forward with their investigations of the project. The NTIA recently provided a major update to the National Broadband Map highlighting the effects so far of projects like that moving forward in Florida. Since it’s launch in February, the NTIA has added data from 81 new broadband suppliers.