On September 20, 2010, the Department of Interior National Business Center’s Acquisition Services Directorate (AQD) on behalf of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) awarded a task order to ASR Analytics, LLC to obtain services to complete an Evaluation Study of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP).
ASR Analytics is providing all services necessary to develop a sampling method, assessment criteria, and method of analysis to conduct a thorough assessment of the impact that the BTOP grant awards are having on broadband availability and adoption and in achieving economic and social benefits in areas serviced by the grantees. This study will include two Interim Reports and a Final Report to be delivered approximately 48 months from award.
The results of the evaluation will help inform the government on the social and economic benefits that resulted from BTOP grant funding, as well as identify factors influencing performance and impact that can be used to inform future private and/or public sector investments.
Based on the ASR Analytics Study Design, case studies are being conducted “to supplement and, in some areas of inquiry, to support the quantitative analysis. The case studies will provide a window into the initial impacts of BTOP awards and provide ongoing snapshots of the Program’s economic and social impacts, allowing for review and possible adjustments for the longer-term, in-depth longitudinal study that will be a centerpiece of the Final Report.”
Progress Towards BTOP Goals: Interim Report 1 on PCC and SBA Case Studies
On October 15, 2012, ASR Analytics submitted the Interim Report 1, based on the first of two site visits to eight Public Computer Center (PCC) and seven Sustainable Broadband Adoption (SBA) grant recipients in the Case Study sample. The first visit to these BTOP recipients occurred in the fall of 2011. The second visit to each of these fifteen recipients will take place in early 2013. Interim Report 1 presents an initial analysis of the baseline data gathered during the site visits, assesses the BTOP recipients’ progress towards the goals established by the program, and provides a framework of five key “focus areas” which ASR will use to measure the social and economic impact of the grants.
ASR Analytics determined that the PCC and SBA grants focused their program activities in five key areas which have been linked to broadband adoption and use: Workforce and Economic Development; Education and Training; Healthcare; Quality of Life/Civic Engagement; and Digital Literacy. For each of these five focus areas, ASR provided examples of activities performed by grantees, initial outputs and outcomes observed, social and economic benefits which may result from these activities, and a “roadmap” of the methods they will use to look for relevant data and indicators in the second site visits in 2013 to measure the results and impacts of the BTOP grants.
Initial findings taken from Interim Report 1: (pages 1-2)
The Interim report concluded that BTOP investments had already begun to demonstrate progress by December 2011, as described below:
- The areas served by the grants in the study sample included populations with historically low levels of broadband adoption. All but one of the selected PCC grants targeted locations with historically high poverty rates. Nearly all of the grants targeted minority populations.
- Grantees had provided more than 5.9 million hours of training in workforce development, education, digital literacy, healthcare, and other topics, in addition to almost 900,000 hours of open lab access for those who might otherwise not have access to broadband.
- Through the continuing efforts of all 65 BTOP PCC projects, new or upgraded PCCs were established at 2,635 locations. In addition, 20 of 43 total BTOP SBA grants had offered subsidized broadband equipment or connections to participants in 2,265 locations.
- The grants in the sample had employed more than 200 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees. The eight PCC grants in our sample accounted for more than 90 FTEs, and the seven SBA grants for more than 110.
ASR Analytics will return to each of the fifteen PCC and SBA grant recipients in early 2013 to conduct the second site visit and to assess the progress of the grant. Most of the grants will be at or near completion. In fall 2013, ASR will conduct site visits to the Comprehensive Community Infrastructure (CCI) sample. Interim Report 2 will be delivered in early 2014, which will analyze the results of the second PCC/SBA Case Studies, as well as the CCI Case Studies. Finally, in September of 2014, ASR will produce a Final Report which will measure the quantitative and qualitative economic and social impacts of the BTOP grants.