NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
ORAL TESTIMONY BY INVITATION ONLY
One of the responsibilities of an Assembly committee is to examine the impact of the State budget on programs within its jurisdiction. The purpose of this hearing is to review the Office of the Chief Information Officer/Office of Technology's (CIO/OFT) implementation of the Universal Broadband Initiative, as funded through the SFY 2008-09 State Budget.
The Universal Broadband Initiative was created in the SFY 2007-08 State budget in order to ensure that all New Yorkers have affordable access to the internet and to improve the State's capacity to deliver improved services to state agencies and local governments in a cost efficient and effective manner. The State's goal is to develop and implement a statewide policy and program for citizens and municipalities throughout New York to obtain access to broadband services. In February 2008, $5 million in Universal Broadband Access Grants were awarded to nine public/private partnerships, organizations, and municipalities, in order to both increase the physical broadband capacity of the State and affordable broadband access in underserved rural and urban areas.
Oral Testimony is by invitation only. Persons wishing to present a written statement to the Committee at this hearing should complete and return the enclosed reply form as soon as possible. It is important that the reply form be fully completed and returned so that persons may be notified in the event of emergency postponement or cancellation. Ten copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing registration desk. The Committee would appreciate advance receipt of prepared statements. In order to further publicize these hearings, please inform interested parties and organizations of the Committee's interest in hearing testimony from all sources.
In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the Assembly, in accordance with its policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Assembly facilities and activities.
In August 2008, CIO/OFT wrote a letter to broadband providers requesting their assistance in providing information in order to map the current availability of broadband service in New York. How much of the mapping has been completed, and what is the estimated date for its completion? Would you describe the providers as cooperative? What can be done to improve cooperation between private stakeholders and the State in the mapping process?
While $5 million in broadband access grants were announced in February 2008, $7.5 million of the 2008-09 broadband grant appropriation still remains unallocated. As of September of this year, proposals had yet to be solicited for a second round of grants. Is the RFP for these grants still scheduled for release during this fiscal year, and, if so, what are the target dates for the release of the RFP and the announcement of the grant recipients?
During the extraordinary session in August called by the Governor, the executive asked for and was granted a $2.5 million decrease in the initial appropriation for the Universal Broadband Initiative. Is there any indication that the Governor intends to ask for further reductions to funds already appropriated in the 2008-09 budget for broadband grants? Given the current fiscal crisis, will CIO/OFT request new general or capital funds in the 2009-10 budget for further broadband access grants? Whether or not there are new appropriations, is there a long-term budgetary framework for the financial commitment of the State to the Broadband Initiative?
Eight of the nine initial projects to receive universal broadband access grants were awarded to local or regional projects, while one of the nine was a grant for a statewide project. Is there a preference in the award process for targeted local or regional projects? Is the grant program hoping to solicit responses from a greater number of quality statewide projects in the second round of awards?
How can state agencies and local municipalities best utilize broadband access to improve services and governance? To what extent is universal broadband for New York residents necessary for state and local government to truly leverage technology to realize increased efficiency and cost savings?
At what level of broadband penetration and speed has the State achieved "universal" broadband? Given that, at least in the short term, there will always be voluntary nonsubscribers to broadband services, what statistical goals should be set to determine how far the State is from universality? What is a realistic timeline to reach that goal given current fiscal constraints?
Persons wishing to present testimony at this public hearing are requested to complete this reply form as soon as possible and mail it to: