Ministry sets rules for BIF funding evaluations

Assessment process for broadband funding gets under way

The Ministry of Economic Development is seeking independent evaluators to vet applications for funding under the government’s Broadband Investment Fund (BIF).

But they can’t do that and help applicants at the same time.

A request for proposal for one or more evaluation teams was issued last week.

The BIF provides $340 million over five years to assist both rural and urban broadband projects.

The department wants to contract specialist expertise to provide evaluation and assessment services for project proposals, says the document.

The document goes into some detail on the eligibility and assessment criteria that will be used to vet BIF applications. There is, unsurprisingly, an emphasis on open access to all services the bidder for BIF funding intends to provide.

Emphasis is also laid on the potential of proposals to provide broadband communications to “key public users”.

MED documentation identifies these as including, but not limited to, health organisations, tertiary institutions, schools and other public or municipal entities.

In the RFP, the MED requests evaluation services at both the preliminary, eligibility stage — checking that the applicant meets the basic criteria for funding — and at the more detailed assessment stage.

BIF candidates will apply in two stages, through a preliminary supply of information and, if the proposal is accepted at that stage, a more detailed full application.

The MED warns potential evaluators that the workload “is likely to be heavy in the months immediately following the closing date for full application”, but then says the date has not yet been set.

Janet Mazenier, who is assisting the MED, with the BIF project, says the closing date will be decided by Cabinet later this month, but the MED wants to give potential evaluators early notice, she says, as some of them may be contemplating assisting BIF candidates and will want to decide whether to do that or to bid for the evaluation contract. To do both would be an unacceptable conflict of interest, she says.

The first funding round under BIF is scheduled to start on July 31.

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Tags Networking & Telecomms IDMEDbifboradband investment fund

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