Subject 413-7-1 BROADBAND RURAL INITIATIVE TO DEVELOP GEORGIA'S ECONOMY
This regulation governs the operation of the BRIDGE Fund Program as established by the OneGeorgia Authority (O.C.G.A. 50-34-1et seq.) through a resolution adopted by the OneGeorgia Authority Board on March 10, 2006. In said resolution, the OneGeorgia Authority was authorized as the implementing entity for purposes of the BRIDGE Fund Program's operation and administration.
The definitions for purposes of this regulation are identical in all respects to the terms defined in O.C.G.A. 50-34-2.
Broadband Service: A descriptive term for evolving digital technologies that provide consumers a signal-switched facility offering integrated access to voice, high-speed data service, video-demand services and interactive delivery services at a transmit and receive rate of no less than 200 kilobit per second.
"Rural County", which is not defined in O.C.G.A. 50-34-2, shall be defined using the most recent data and estimates from the U.S. Bureau of the Census to mean a county with a population less than 50,000 where 10% or more of the population lives in poverty.
The purpose of the OneGeorgia Authority BRIDGE Fund is to provide a program of financial assistance that includes grants, loans and other forms of assistance authorized by O.C.G.A. 50-34-1et seq. to finance activities that lead to the installation or expansion of facilities and equipment which provide broadband services in counties that are not currently served or underserved by such services.
Eligible applicants under this program shall include, but not be limited to, general-purpose local governments (municipalities and counties), local government authorities, and joint or multi-county development authorities. Eligible sub-recipients include private for-profit companies that provide broadband services over the following types of networks: "landline" telephone networks; cellular telephone networks; cable television networks and/or wireless networks which connect to such networks.
|(1)||Funding appropriated or otherwise made available to the One Georgia Authority will be made available to eligible applicants on an as-needed basis through a selection process that will be announced through the Authority and/or Agent's publication of notices of fund availability (NOFAs). Such NOFAs will be published on the Authority's ( www.One Georgia.org) and Agent's (www.dca.state.ga.us) websites and at the discretion of the Authority and Agent, may also be mailed to eligible applicants, applicant associations and or placed in advertisements in certain local or state publications.|
|(2)||The OneGeorgia Authority's NOFA will establish submission guidelines. Applications will be accepted at any time an eligible applicant has an eligible project and will be reviewed based upon the criteria provided in Section 413-07-1-.08 of these Rules.|
Eligible applicants must apply for assistance under this program in a format
and manner prescribed by Agency. Application documents and guidelines may be
obtained from the Authority at:
The OneGeorgia Authority
OneGeorgia BRIDGE Program
1202-B Hillcrest Parkway
Dublin, Georgia 31021
|(4)||The application document provided will include information outlining program requirements, forms, mailing addresses, telephone numbers of contact persons and other necessary and pertinent information.|
|(1)||Eligible uses of funds provided under the BRIDGE Fund include those activities and the provision of facilities and services as described in O.C.G.A. 50-34-1et seq. Such activities include, but are not limited to, the provision of such public infrastructure, services, facilities and improvements needed to implement new broadband services or enhance existing broadband services. More specifically, such activities may include, but are not limited to, the provision of planning services and technical assistance integral to the development of needed systems, the aggregation of demand, the establishment of databases and other informational and technology systems; the purchase of machinery, equipment and software; technology infrastructure; public utilities; public facilities and services; real property rehabilitation; the acquisition of real property; site preparation and improvements; construction and any other necessary activities allowed under O.C.G.A. 50-34-1et seq. that are integral and necessary for the development and deployment of a broadband system. Ineligible activities include refinancing of existing debt, on-going administrative, operating and maintenance costs, financing of customer terminal equipment (including modems) or inside wiring not owned by the recipient, financing of operating leases and vehicles.|
|(2)||In general, the public acquisition and/or improvement of public facilities and infrastructure can be undertaken directly by a general-purpose local government(s) or authority with BRIDGE Fund monies. In some situations, where a private entity may be required to provide facilities and/or equipment to allow a broadband system or facility to become fully operational, BRIDGE Fund monies may be expended for the public acquisition and/or improvement of financed assets and facilities that may be used and operated by private entities. In such cases, such privately used assets and facilities must generally be owned or controlled by a local government and/or authority and leased, subleased or sold to the business or enterprise in accordance with O.C.G.A. 36-62-7 and/or O.C.G.A. 50-34-6.|
|(3)||In general, assistance for "public" facilities owned by local governments and/or authorities that are leased to a private sector broadband provider through the lease provisions described in Section 413-07-1-.06(2) are eligible for grants. Assistance for facilities that are to be owned exclusively by a private entity must generally take the form of low or zero interest loans from the local government or authority. The exact structure and amount will be determined by the activity to be financed, the financial capacity of the private entity and the eligibility of the applicant. Loans will be structured using generally accepted public and private financing instruments and procedures. All recaptured funds must be returned to the OneGeorgia Authority. The OneGeorgia Authority reserves the right to establish criteria regarding the nature, types and forms of financial assistance that the BRIDGE Fund provides.|
|(1)|| The application procedure for the BRIDGE
Fund includes an optional Preapplication phase and an Application phase. The
purpose of the Preapplication is to provide:
|(2)||Eligible applicants may submit Preapplications and/or Applications for consideration at any time. The OneGeorgia Authority strongly encourages potential applicants to contact the Authority or DCA to arrange a Preapplication review prior to submitting an Application.|
|(3)||Preapplications and/or Applications may be submitted individually by an eligible applicant, or jointly by two (2) or more applicants. Joint submissions must contain a copy of the Cooperating Agreement entered into by the cooperating units of government. The Agreement should designate the applicant that will serve as lead recipient should the project be funded.|
|(4)||Preapplications and Applications for the BRIDGE Fund must be submitted in conformance with the format and applicable instructions specified by the OneGeorgia Authority.|
|(1)||Upon receipt of a Preapplication under this program, staff will review the Preapplication for eligibility and conformance with basic threshold criteria. Potential applicants will then be notified regarding general eligibility and perceived competitiveness based on the information they provided. For assessments that indicate potentially eligible and competitive projects, the Authority and/or DCA may provide limited technical assistance to would-be applicants; however, in no event will the Authority or DCA assist in the actual writing of an application.|
|(2)||Upon receipt of an application, the application shall be reviewed using the rating and selection factors specified in Section 413-07-1-.08(6) of these regulations, using any additional and/or supplemental information, data, analyses, documentation, commitments, assurances, etc., as may be required or requested by the Authority or DCA for purposes of evaluating, rating and selecting applicants under this program. Applications that contain insufficient information or documentation to be evaluated and rated may be returned to the applicant for further information.|
|(3)||Staff may conduct site visits and hold discussions with applicants and proposed sub-recipients for the purposes of confirming and evaluating information contained in the Preapplication or Application. Staff may also consult with other appropriate government and private entities in the course of reviewing and evaluating information contained in Preapplications and/or Applications.|
|(4)||All applications received from applicants will be reviewed to determine the merit of the applications and the proposed use of funds. The One Georgia Authority and/or DCA will rate and review all applications that meet the Threshold Requirements outlined in Section 413-07-1-.08(5). Applications will be rated according to a point system. The maximum number of points available to an application is set at 540 points. In order to be fundable, an application must receive a minimum score of 325 points. The rating criteria are outlined below.|
Requirements (Application must generally meet all requirements in
order to be rated.):
|(6)||Rating and Selection
|(1)|| Award limits will be based on the number
of counties that receive new or enhanced broadband services through a
particular project as follows:
|(2)||Once selected for funding, awarded funds will be made available by the OneGeorgia Authority or its Agent through an award contract incorporating by reference the approved final application and adding any special conditions that may be necessary or appropriate. As part of the award conditions, recipients must file a report on the impact and performance of the project, in a format prescribed by the OneGeorgia Authority or its Agent.|
|(3)||The OneGeorgia Authority or its Agent may approve an award subject to certain general or special conditions that will be incorporated into the award document. Because of the limited amount of funds available, the One Georgia Authority or its Agent may also award an amount less than the amount requested in the application. Applicants will have thirty (30) days from the date of award to accept any special conditions and/or the reduced award amount. If the applicant fails to accept the special conditions or lower award amount within the required period, the OneGeorgia Authority and/or the Agent with OneGeorgia Authority approval may unilaterally withdraw the award.|
|(4)||The OneGeorgia Authority or its agent will provide recipients with specific instructions and forms to be used for drawdown of funds awarded under the award contract.|
In addition to the certifications made on the face of the award statement, the recipient of funds must further certify that:
|(1)||No applicable state laws, rules, regulations, or applicable local ordinances shall be violated in carrying out this project and expending BRIDGE Fund monies.|
|(2)||Recipient will adhere to applicable state and local procurement requirements and it will maintain documentation to confirm such adherence. For activities not applicable to state procurement requirements, recipient agrees to procure such services and activities through a fair and open competitive procurement process that is openly advertised through appropriate media and in compliance with any applicable local procurement laws or regulations.|
|(3)||Recipient's accounting records shall be maintained in a manner consistent with generally accepted government accounting standards.|
|(4)||If the Recipient is a development authority with powers set forth at Chapter 62 of Title 36 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, then the project financed in part by BRIDGE Fund monies shall only be leased or sold as provided by Section 36-62-7 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated.|
|(5)||The recipient (in accordance with state law) shall undergo an annual financial audit conducted in accordance with government auditing standards established by the comptroller general of the United States. The recipient shall submit copies of all audits that cover all or part of the award period to the agency.|
|(6)||No real or apparent conflict of interest shall be engaged in by any person or party (or any person or party with whom they have family or business ties) who is involved in any aspect of the BRIDGE Fund project.|