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Sponsored Research

Under a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA), which appeared June 23, 1998 in the Commerce Business Daily, NTIA solicited proposals for research and evaluation relating to the diffusion of telecommunications and information technology applications in the public and non-profit sectors.

Specifically, NTIA sought proposals that pertained to (1) interoperability and scalability of telecommunications and information technology systems and networks; (2) community involvement in the development and implementation of technology mediated projects; (3) reducing disparities and providing access to information infrastructure technologies; (4) telecommunications and information technology induced organization change, including emerging forms of partnerships and collaborations; (5) innovative techniques and methodologies for evaluating applications of telecommunications and information technology projects in the public and nonprofit sectors; and (6) assessments of future information infrastructure needs in these sectors.
In funding such projects, NTIA hoped that the research would contribute to TOP's mission to promote the widespread availability and use of information infrastructure technologies, and help TOP evaluate the role of those technologies in both the public and nonprofit sectors.

NTIA received 26 proposals in response to this solicitation. Results and findings from the five funded research proposals are widely disseminated.

1. Historically Black Colleges and Universities: An Assessment of Networking and Connectivity

This first report under the Broad Agency Announcement, was completed by the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO). The report's findings were encouraging, and gave the Department a benchmark with which to measure the degree HBCUs were keeping pace with technological change in early 2000. This $90,027 study was the first of five research projects contracted under NTIA's Broad Agency Announcement.

Read NTIA's Press Release on the NAFEO report.

2. Network Technologies in Hispanic-Serving Organizations:

TOP's second BAA award went to the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute for a report that contains case studies and evaluations of four information technology programs designed to serve Hispanics and other underserved populations.

Read the Press Release on the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute.

3. The Role of Local Institutions in the Development of Internet Infrastructure in Distressed Urban Neighborhoods: Results of a National Survey

The third BAA award went to Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI) in Blacksburg, Virginia, to survey 100 Community Technology Centers (CTCs). The $100,000 study focused on CTCs' information technology resources and how they can help economically disadvantaged areas access the Internet. Released in July, 2002, the report, examines how CTCs use community partnerships and collaborative networks to achieve greater sustainability.

The companion report by VPI, Developing Sustainable Resource Streams in Community Technology Centers Through Partnerships: Best Practices for Building Partnerships — Interviews with Center Directors, provides personal insights from CTC directors regarding resource streams and strategic approaches for partnering. Findings from the interviews underscore the relationship between collaboration and sustainability.

Read the Press Release on Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

4. Use and Impact of Community Networking

TOP's fourth BAA award was made on June 14, 2000, to Blacksburg Electronic Village, Inc. (BEV) in Blacksburg, Virginia, to evaluate the impact of information technology on public and non-profit organizations served by community networks. The $100,000 project surveyed 50 public and non-profit institutions involved in community networking, and will conduct a detailed study on four of the institutions. The five sections included:

  • Trends in Internet communication by community groups and organizations in Blacksburg 1996 - 1999. Data derived from 1996 and 1999 random sample telephone surveys of Blacksburg and local calling area.
  • Trends in the digital divide: Internet users and non-users by demographic variables in Blacksburg 1996 - 1999. Data derived from 1996 and 1999 random sample telephone surveys of Blacksburg and local calling area.
  • Research highlights: Comprehensive trends of the use and social impact of the Internet in Blacksburg: 1994-1999. A summary of various trends based on user profile questionnares and random sample mail surveys over five years.
  • Social Networks strengthened by Internet communication: evidence of the social impact of community networking in Blacksburg; based on interview data (community leaders, local social groups and organizations). Paper presented at the annual Telecommunications Policy Research Conference, September 1999.
  • Social Relations and civic engagement are early uses of community networking in Blacksburg; based on questionnaire data completed by early Internet subscribers 1994-1997. Paper presented at the International Conference for Information Systems, December 1997.

Read the Press Release on Blacksburg Electronic Village.

5. Sustainability of Community Networks

The Center for Civic Networking (CCN) was awarded BAA funding to study the sustainability of community networks — public sites offering access to computer networks providing local information and resources. The $100,000 contract provided information on how to keep community networks viable.

Read the Press Release on the Center for Civic Networking.

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