Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Networking Government United States IT News

US Seeks Volunteers To Review Broadband Grant Applications 123

Posted by timothy
from the low-expertise-worries-me-less-than-poor-incentives dept.
BobB-nw writes with this excerpt from Network World: "The US National Telecommunications and Information Administration, scheduled to distribute $4.7 billion in broadband deployment grants over the next 15 months, will count on volunteers to review grant applications. The NTIA, in a document released this week, asks for people to apply to become volunteer reviewers of the broadband grants. The NTIA's broadband grant program is part of $7.2 billion that the US Congress approved for broadband in a huge economic stimulus package approved earlier this year. ... It's 'a little scary' that volunteers will have the power to accept and reject broadband applications, said Craig Settles, an analyst and president of consulting firm Successful.com. Volunteers may have limited expertise, or they may have biases that aren't evident to the NTIA, he said."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

US Seeks Volunteers To Review Broadband Grant Applications

Comments Filter:
  • I'm going to become a volunteer grant reviewer, and then only approve grants that promise to bring me free DOCSIS 3.0 to my house ... and WiMax while I'm at it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rtfa-troll (1340807)

      It's this level of innocent happiness that makes Slashdotters such suitable people for this job. He'll be the only person who actually demands a technical installation (they companies selected will be horrified by the idea of having to actually build enough of a network to supply one location with broadband) at the same time, when he realises all he got was free WiMax and everyone else on his committee got at least a Hawaiian island, if not a cruise liner to go with it, he would probably freak out and gras

  • If you are one the people behind the scenes in power. But I think elitist statements like this tend to be against the truth. The fact is, most people who are concerned enough about these issues to look at them are, actually, educated about them.

    • by characterZer0 (138196) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @04:16PM (#28641589)

      You really think that educated volunteers are going to outnumber paid plants?

      • by Joe Snipe (224958) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @04:28PM (#28641741) Homepage Journal

        At least the ratio of honest criticism to paid shill will be lower than the current system.

        • At least the ratio of honest criticism to paid shill will be lower than the current system.

          Do you have any evidence to support that claim? I ask because although there are plenty of problems with the current processes federal agencies use to review proposal submissions, corruption is seldom one. Most agencies use either staffers, who have little incentive towards the kinds of corruption you imply are rampant, or peer reviewers, who often have to be wrangled into the work.

          In any event, if you actually dis

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by cellurl (906920)
        I just applied, did you?
        • by wdavies (163941)

          I thought about it - they are quite specific about who they want to review the applications - I'm probably on the margin, having mostly worked in text search related internet stuff. If I thought I had more relevant experience (eg networked game design) I would have gladly offered to review.

          "To be considered as a reviewer you must have significant expertise and experience in at least one of the following areas:
          1) the design, funding, construction, and operation of broadband networks or public computer cente

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by cellurl (906920)
            I just wanted to flood their inbox.
            I applied with feds to help with the DTV switch last month as well.
            'Didn't even get a phone call...
          • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

            "To be considered as a reviewer you must have significant expertise and experience in at least one of the following areas:
            1) the design, funding, construction, and operation of broadband networks or public computer centers; 2) broadband-related outreach, training, or education; and 3) innovative programs to increase the demand for broadband services. In addition you must agree to comply with Department of Commerce policies on conflict of interest and confidentiality."

            We learned a few days ago that the healt

        • by GaryOlson (737642)

          NTIA is accepting applications for its first round of BTOP grants from July 14, 2009 until August 14, 2009

          Thank you for your interest in applying. Since you failed to read, understand, and follow basic directions, we are informing you that you are not qualified to serve on a panel.

          Director NTIA

      • You really think that educated volunteers are going to outnumber paid plants?

        I think that the actual announcement sets out the same kind of rules that would be applied to paid employees or contractors doing this kind of work, both as regards qualifications and conflict rules, so I don't see how having volunteers makes it any worse than any other possible way of doing first line review (note, also, that contrary to the complaints of the broadband consulting-firm president quoted in TFA that seems upset that

      • by noundi (1044080)
        I think a joint report of many individuals reviewing for personal gain will produce less biased information than a company reviewing for economical gain. Everyone is biased, in one degree or another, and by combining enough biased information from independent peers you will compile an unbiased report. It's when the peers unite to intentionally shift the results that you'll see false data.
      • At least it will make it a lot harder. Instead of bribing one "consultant", you'd now have to bribe a lot of people, making the whole endeavour of reaching your goals by bribery instead of quality rather inefficient.

    • by vertinox (846076)

      The fact is, most people who are concerned enough about these issues to look at them are, actually, educated about them.

      When you are on the wrong end of a jury... Just remember these are the people too stupid to find an excuse to get out of it.

      • by scubamage (727538)
        You ask to be a reviewer. You don't ask for jury duty. There is a big difference between volunteering and civic duty.
      • jury duty (Score:3, Insightful)

        by falconwolf (725481)

        The fact is, most people who are concerned enough about these issues to look at them are, actually, educated about them.

        When you are on the wrong end of a jury... Just remember these are the people too stupid to find an excuse to get out of it.

        I was summoned to show up for jury duty twice. Both tymes I was hoping to be picked to serve on a jury preferably involving drugs, but wasn't even questioned either tyme. Why would I want to serve on a jury? Because it's one of the most important duties of a citize

        • by tjstork (137384)

          So I can let politicians know victim-less crimes should never have been made crimes to begin wit

          Seen enough families having to put up with that one guy whose stoned all the time, stealing money for dope, to say that drugs are not a victimless crime.

          But, I agree with you about jury nullification as a fundamental right.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by falconwolf (725481)

            Seen enough families having to put up with that one guy whose stoned all the time, stealing money for dope, to say that drugs are not a victimless crime.

            Stealing is the crime that causes victims, drugs use is not. And drug prices are high because of the fake War on Drugs, which is really a war on liberty. If drugs were legal then most of the profit would be out of drugs reducing drug related violence as well, with a lot of it being between gangs trying to control the distribution of the drugs.

            With the law

            • MJ making anyone violent? Fuck, I'd rather be in the presence of 10 stoned people than in the presence of 10 drunk.

              If anything, MJ makes you very passive. Old joke, why are there no pro-hash marches? Try to organize one! "Hey, dude, let's go on a demo for dope." "Naaah... not now..."

              • MJ making anyone violent? Fuck, I'd rather be in the presence of 10 stoned people than in the presence of 10 drunk.

                Yeap, I've never seen someone who was just high being violent. But I've seen a number of people drunk who were violent.

                If anything, MJ makes you very passive.

                I read somewhere that's why Russia, the Soviets. made it illegal. They couldn't risk soldiers smoking wanting to kick back and relax and not wanting to fight.

                Falcon

            • by tjstork (137384)

              Stealing is the crime that causes victims, drugs use is not

              No, its not just that. It's the emotional neglect that comes from being the party impaired all the time. It's the random behavior because their body chemistry is all whacked. To be fair, all of this happens with booze as well, but, to say that drug or drink abuse is victimless is simply not true. When you are getting your buzz out of a bottle and not your family, you are shortchanging your family.

              • It's the emotional neglect that comes from being the party impaired all the time.

                The one who's neglected by a drug user can move on. Otherwise my sister's a victim of a crime as well. I was hit by a moving van after my classes in college that caused a disability. Now my sister has to deal with my finances. So she should be able to sue the employer of the person who hit me too. Actually my whole family has suffered so they all should be able to sue.

                Sounds ridiculous doesn't it? Not any more that what

          • by Omestes (471991)

            But, I agree with you about jury nullification as a fundamental right.

            This may be, but you still shouldn't be allowed in a jury if your mind is already made up on your verdict, or you are unwilling to listen to the facts of this individual case. A jury verdict shouldn't be about your single opinion on an issue.

            • This may be, but you still shouldn't be allowed in a jury if your mind is already made up on your verdict, or you are unwilling to listen to the facts of this individual case. A jury verdict shouldn't be about your single opinion on an issue.

              Wrong, juries are a check on an overbearing government.

              Here are a couple of quotes from some Founding Fathers of the USA:
              Thomas Jefferson: [blogspot.com]
              "I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its const

              • by Omestes (471991)

                As stated, I'm not disagreeing, jury nullification is important and should be protected.

                But in the case of someone who automatically hears the word "drug" and decides to nullify, this is just dumb. As a prosecutor I wouldn't allow in the jury (rightly so, too). Also this person basically wants to completely disregard the facts in the case because of pre-existing bias, which makes them ill suited to be a juror.

                Now if the parent decided to nullify AFTER the facts were presented, and in the course of the pre

                • As stated, I'm not disagreeing, jury nullification is important and should be protected.

                  But in the case of someone who automatically hears the word "drug" and decides to nullify, this is just dumb.

                  Well I didn't say what the charge was, and I wouldn't automatically nullify crime just because drugs were involved. Simple possession or dealing yes, but where someone is harmed I wouldn't. If a person is killed by someone on drugs, then I'd vote guilty for murder. If another person were charged with robbery f

        • Why a drug trial? So I can let politicians know victim-less crimes should never have been made crimes to begin with.

          That's good if your jury system isn't broken. When I got 'called' I was told that not following the judges orders on how to interpret the law could get a juror held in contempt of court.

          Plus there's the whole conscription aspect to be adverse to. Volunteer juries FTW.

          • When I got 'called' I was told that not following the judges orders on how to interpret the law could get a juror held in contempt of court.

            Yea, unfortunately some judges try to prevent jury nullification. One of the questions I ask someone running for judgeships is if they support it. I will tell them point blank that I will vote against anyone who opposes the right of citizens to tell politicians a law is bad by using jury nullification, if they don't want citizen jurists judging the merits of laws then

            • Kudos on your support for nullification.

              I consider jury duty to be one of the most important things citizens can do, and want to serve on a jury myself

              I think that's terrific, and I see no reason to prevent you from doing so as often as a random drawing process would allow your name to be picked from a pool of the willing.

              Since one can 'get out of work' indiscriminately for jury duty and one was allowed to pick the time of jury service, I suspect there would be competition for the slots, especially if State

              • I suspect there would be competition for the slots, especially if States such as mine (NH) followed their Constitutions and compensated jurors as mandated ('fully' in our case).

                When I was summoned about 20 years ago, twice within a couple of years, the pay was only $20 a day which if you need your pay from work doesn't cut it. I was a student then so I would have missed class, but not work. As it was I only had to show up 2 days each tyme, then sit around waiting. But at least I got some homework done.

                • if you need your pay from work doesn't cut it

                  Right. It hits the self-employed especially hard, which is at least one reason why our Constitution says:

                  [Art.] 21. [Jurors; Compensation.] In order to reap the fullest advantage of the inestimable privilege of the trial by jury, great care ought to be taken, that none but qualified persons should be appointed to serve; and such ought to be fully compensated for their travel, time and attendance.

                  but currently they only compensate for mileage, which is 1/3. Yes,

  • I'm afraid all the government speak will scare off the everyday joe
  • by TropicalCoder (898500) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @04:10PM (#28641523) Homepage Journal
    Post each application on Slashdot and we'll all vote on it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by iamhigh (1252742)
      What in a poll... on /.? Every application (and probably two or three times) will be decided by what option has Cowboy Neal associated with it!!!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Post each application on Slashdot and we'll all vote on it.

      That would probably lead to CowboyNeal getting all the money...

    • Don't be insane! They can't have technically minded, well informed people making decisions! If this goes through, whose going to pay the lawyer's and lobbyist's welfare, that's what I want to know.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Minwee (522556)

        Don't be insane! They can't have technically minded, well informed people making decisions!

        Okay, have it your way. We'll post the applications on Digg instead.

        • by dykmoby (830547)

          Don't be insane! They can't have technically minded, well informed people making decisions!

          Okay, have it your way. We'll post the applications on Digg instead.

          As long as it ain't YouTube...

      • Don't be insane! They can't have technically minded, well informed people making decisions!

        o_0 What slashdot are YOU reading, and can I have the URL, please?

  • they may have biases

    Yeah, because there is never any biased decisions made by government agencies!!

    • Re:Biases (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eln (21727) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @04:17PM (#28641601) Homepage
      There are levels of bias. If you want people to wallow through pages and pages of grant applications for free, the only people who will volunteer will be the ones that have a vested interest in making sure certain applications are accepted or rejected. There are only three types of people who I can think of that would be interested in doing this:

      1.) Industry insiders who want to make sure their grants are accepted or their competitors' are rejected.
      2.) Crusaders trying to bend the process to whatever their particular ideology is.
      3.) Unemployable losers with nothing better to do.

      I can't see how letting any of these groups participate would result in good results. We're talking about billions of dollars here...surely the government could toss in a couple hundred thousand to pay people to do the job.
      • Anytime you have knowledge you have bias. That is the nature of humans. No one can be very knowledgeable about a topic yet not have a bias.
        • by eln (21727)
          Sure, but when people aren't being paid for the job, their only motivation to do the job is to make sure it gets tilted toward their bias. A guy in the article also brings up a pretty good point that it's silly for the government to ask people to work for free to distribute money that's designed in part to create paying jobs.
          • by Artifakt (700173)

            The point is, there is no one who meets the basic definitions of human or informed without there being bias. Arguing about how not being paid creates a particular bias, as you are doing, is meaningless. The person who is paying out for the service also has biases. Paying someone may give the recipient a reason to do the job besides tilting the situation towards their own bias, but it also gives them a reason to tilt the situation towards the payer's bias. You're promogulating a myth, that the powerful inter

          • their only motivation to do the job is to make sure it gets tilted toward their bias.

            Which may mean getting hired by one of the companies if they aren't already working for one.

            Falcon

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by anthony.vo (1581427)

        We're talking about billions of dollars here...surely the government could toss in a couple hundred thousand to pay people to do the job.

        It's not like as if they haven't done this before :-/ The $200 Billion Broadband Scandal [tispa.org]

      • by iamhigh (1252742)

        2.) Crusaders trying to bend the process to whatever their particular ideology is.

        What other type of person is there? Can anyone review this and submit a decision without taking one's ideology into account? What would be the purpose of a review if you don't want someone to judge that application? But I agree that for this amount of money a paid staff to review the apps seems prudent.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by BigPeen (1357715)
        Sounds exactly like every PAID gov't employee!
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by DJLuc1d (1010987)
        This is what they should have been doing years ago. If the government is going to spend my money, I would rather have average Joe deciding who gets it than people who are paid by this corporation or that one. Granted there is the chance of shills, at least this way there is hope for an honest person influencing decision.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by weiserfireman (917228)
        The Federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program uses volunteer grant reviewersOf course, the program was designed by the fire service. Reviewers are pulled from fire departments across the country. Volunteers are not allowed to review applications from their part of the country.Very view criticisms of the program are critical of the grant reviewers. In fact, it is considered to be a program that is very good at getting money to where it is most needed with little overhead.Many people trying to imp
      • Okay, I guess that makes me a crusader. I'm interested in volunteering and yes, my ideology plays a part in it. I believe if you want to live in a better world then you get up every day and you work for it. You take actions to make it a better world. Maybe you have a problem with people who feel like this, because you said you can't see how any of those groups end up with good results. Well my friend, I'm a proud member of group number two and I would like to know exactly what problem you have with the way
      • We're talking about billions of dollars here...surely the government could toss in a couple hundred thousand to pay people to do the job.

        A couple hundred thousand wouldn't hire enough people at any meaningful pay for the kind of qualifications you are looking for; at any rate, sure, they could hire either government employees or contracted consultants, and the exact same biases you suggest for volunteers would exist. Either (a) they would be hiring short term government employees for the job, who would eith

      • There are only three types of people who I can think of that would be interested in doing this:

        1.) Industry insiders who want to make sure their grants are accepted or their competitors' are rejected.
        2.) Crusaders trying to bend the process to whatever their particular ideology is.
        3.) Unemployable losers with nothing better to do.

        ...surely the government could toss in a couple hundred thousand to pay people to do the job.

        On the other hand, I'm tempted to question how much it improves your situation to pay people to do the job. Mightn't you end up with the same group of people whether you pay or not-- well, ok, if you're paying then you might argue that the unemployed losers cease to be unemployed.

        And there's the other side of the argument, which is that if people are working on something because they have an interest, they might do a better job than someone just doing it for a paycheck. Use someone with an interest, they

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Runaway1956 (1322357)

      I'll be happy to admit right up front that I'm biased. I read about people in L.A. New York and Chicago enjoying unbelievable speeds, both wired and unwired. College kids have it all, the fastest speeds in the world again, both wired and unwired.

      Jethro Beaudien and I suffer with less than a single MB of bandwidth - often shared between us. I thought the whole idea was to expand internet service. So, I'm going to approve any project that brings real broadband to rural America, and disapprove of ultra-mod

      • by ewieling (90662)
        Does anyone actually KNOW how much of America has only dial-up available?

        In all fairness HughesNet (and other satellite providers) is available in most of the USA. Any place with Verizon Wireless phone service also has EVDO Rev B service. I don't know how much of Sprint or AT&T networks have EDGE or EVDO. I understand this is not what most people would call "broadband". I sure love my cablemodem, but when I lived in a rural area (Verizon was the only cell provider with service, 13 miles from the
      • The corporations are already smothering the cities and other profitable areas.

        Unfortunately, they're not exactly "smothering" us. I live in NYC, and the fastest upload rate I can get is 512kbps, unless I want to pay to have a T1 run to my apartment. Yeah, that's much better than dialup, but it's hardly "smothering" us with fast Internet. Technically they're offering FIOS in NYC, but generally you can't get it, and they've put a halt on rolling it out "until the economy gets better".

        So my point here is that all the arguments about population density and whatnot are BS. These comp

        • These companies just don't have a motivation to invest in upgrades because there isn't real competition.

          Yeap! That's the problem. There is no competition. Either allow anyone and everyone to use the right of ways or separate ownership of infrastructure from ownership of the services the infrastructure can deliver. I don't thing that that many businesses would be willing to pay to lay fiber, but even if a bunch were willing to how many fibers could be laid down in one place? The problem with one busines

      • This won't become reality unless you'll accept a fairly "socialist" model where cities subsidize rural areas.

        Let's be honest here. Connecting a skyscraper apartment building with 50+ parties living there is a lot cheaper than connecting a single farm in the middle of nowhere where you may, with some luck, connect a single family. Both are extreme examples, granted, but I guess you get the idea. It simply pays better to connect people where they are packed tightly together.

        So unless you find a way to make co

  • For each argument you make against this can be made against open-source software.
    • That's a good point. If even half of the people here on Slashdot that were eligible to volunteer would do so, the Slashdot community could have a very powerful impact on the US government's broadband policy.
    • by hardburn (141468)

      Not necessarily. You can only seriously call yourself an Open Source developer if you've written and released some code. While some bad programmers still get that far, this process alone with get rid of a lot of chaff. The same may or may not be true of government volunteers.

      • by Artifakt (700173)

        It's not that you're not right as far as you went, but the same may or may not be true of paid government contractors, people in private industry, or just people in general. There are many areas of work where selection pressure is low.

  • File under (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ArhcAngel (247594) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @04:18PM (#28641617)

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • Come on, now... (Score:3, Informative)

    by DarrenBaker (322210) <darren@flim.HORSEnet minus herbivore> on Thursday July 09, 2009 @04:20PM (#28641651) Homepage

    Not TFA says 'review' and not 'grant'. The volunteers are going to produce reports, not grant funds. Sheesh.

  • Great (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Publikwerks (885730)
    Sweet. Just what we need, a bunch of /b/tards, trolls, and the dregs of society decideding where the money is going to go. I hope you like fast speeds for torrents, pron, and videos of Hitler.
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by hardburn (141468)

      Just what we need, a bunch of /b/tards, trolls, and the dregs of society decideding where the money is going to go.

      I think that's the definition of "democracy".

    • What else would you need fast speed for other than to torrent porn videos of Hitler?

  • by BigBlueOx (1201587) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @04:22PM (#28641671)
    "Who will help me approve these broadband requests?", said the Big Red Government.

    "I will! I will!", said the Comcast manager.
    "I will! I will!", said the Time Warner CEO's wife.
    "I will! I will!", said Rupert Murdoch's 2nd cousin.

    And they did.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by danzona (779560)
      You are not that far off. From TFA:
      Volunteer reviewers will be required to have some connection to the broadband industry, although the volunteers will have to comply with rules from NTIA parent agency the U.S. Department of Commerce on conflicts of interest and confidentiality, the NTIA document said. Reviewers must have "significant expertise and experience" in either designing and building broadband networks, educating or training consumers about broadband, or working in programs to increase demand for
      • ...working in programs to increase demand for broadband...

        Translation: If you work in the porn industry, you're qualified baby!!!

      • So, to translate it to plain English, to quality you must be a broadband company shill?

    • by SirGarlon (845873)

      "Who will help me approve these broadband requests?", said the Big Red Government.

      Correction: This is an instance of fascism (government being run by corporations), not communism (corporations being run by the government). If you want a current example of communism, it would be the government takeover of General Motors.

      That's right, current U.S. government has elements of both fascism and communism. Just like the rest of the G8.

    • Except, Comcast's manager will review Time Warner's proposal. Time Warner's CEO's wife will review Rupert's proposal, and the 2nd Cousin will review Comcast's proposal.

      Either they all will be rejected, or rubberstamped approved. If they talk among themselves, the gov. will go all Martha Stewart on them.
  • ...he played upright bass in the pit orchestra for "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" many years back. Wonder if this is the same guy...
  • A novel ploy: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ThousandStars (556222) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @04:30PM (#28641769) Homepage
    This is an unusual tactic but one that makes a certain amount of sense: the amount of money going through many federal agencies right now is somewhat like the proverbial alligator being digested by a python. My family's business does grant writing for nonprofit and public agencies, and we've been writing about these kinds of logistical problems for a while; see for example, this post [seliger.com], or, if you want an alligator's worth of general stimulus posts, all these [seliger.com].

    The upshot is that too many agencies have too much money to cover regulation reviews, RFP development, technical support once RFPs have been issued, reviewers once RFPs have been received, and program officers to oversee awards once they've been made. These problems have been fairly well-known among nonprofits and grant writers for some time; that they're now making it to /. can't help but warm my heart, especially since I think we're writing a BTOP and BIP.

  • I think the problem here is further reaching than just getting volunteers to approve $4.7 billion in grants. For instance, why was the USDA [usda.gov] tapped to handle the grants? Certified 5-star corn fed angus broadband is coming to your area!
  • Volunteer with a bias, employee with a bias, hmm.
  • by neurocutie (677249) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @04:44PM (#28641937)

    Nearly all "extramural" science/medicine/health grants funded by NIH, NSF, (even parts of DOD), are "peer reviewed" by a similar mechanism, basically VOLUNTEER experts in the field. One gets a tiny "honorarium" and it is ALOT of work. The peer review system in science/medicine is full of problems, but it is also better than any other system yet tried or conceived...

  • In order to qualify as a "volunteer" for this service you need to be an employed member of the business community relevant to the topic. So-- No, Homeless Bill, and/or Sergi the Special Needs Bus Attendant will not qualify for the program. ... *sigh*

    • "To be considered as a reviewer you must have significant expertise and experience in at least one of the following areas: 1) the design, funding, construction, and operation of broadband networks or public computer centers; 2) broadband-related outreach, training, or education; and 3) innovative programs to increase the demand for broadband services. In addition you must agree to comply with Department of Commerce policies on conflict of interest and confidentiality." http://broadbandusa.sc.egov.usda.gov/ [usda.gov]
      • by snwyvern (1334877)

        Yeah, it does. But I think my point was that it's not as dire as the teeming masses of commenters suggest it to be.

        Streissand effect, etc.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      In order to qualify as a "volunteer" for this service you need to be an employed member of the business community relevant to the topic.

      Wrong. Per the announcement [usda.gov] linked in TFA, current employment in the field is not require, but "[t]o be considered as a reviewer you must have significant expertise and experience in at least one of the following areas: 1) the design, funding, construction, and operation of broadband networks or public computer centers; 2) broadband-related outreach, training, or education;

  • There are two issues here that argue in favor of the government's approach: who says hiring people will be any better or quicker, and whatever happened to the idea of open source? No one gets paid for committing code to an open source project, and no one should suggest that those who do are "losers." You'd need to implement the same kind of safeguards against cronyism with paid people as with volunteers, you'd still have to train them, and they'd still have a nearly impossible task. The issue isn't money (C
  • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @05:01PM (#28642191) Homepage Journal

    It's 'a little scary' that volunteers will have the power to accept and reject broadband applications, said Craig Settles, an analyst and president of consulting firm Successful.com

    It's a little scary that someone who runs something called "Successful.com" is considered credible enough to quote.

  • So, did anyone RTFA? Did they go and take a look at Mr. Settles web site and notice what he does for a leaving? Well, he helps people deploy broadband setups! And one of his big draws is helping people through the grant process.

    Hmm....could his criticism be tied to the fact that this is going to make his job of "influence peddling" a bit more difficult?

    There is a strong tradition in the US of volunteers stepping up and doing as good, if not better, job as the so called Pros. Of course these "amateurs" (literally those who do it because of love or passion, check your Greek) are scorned by the "professionals" (literally those who do it solely for money, check you Greek again). And for good reason: the amateurs usually ask awkward questions.

    Now, Mr. Settles throws up juries as a strawman to attack this setup. Well, if criminal and civil juries worked the way they did at the founding of our country, or the way Grand Juries do now in many locales, I say, "Sign me up." But if you want to treat me like a mushroom, I this thinking person says, "No thank you!"

  • I guess you can pay enough indians to vote for what ever you want...
  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @05:34PM (#28642693)

    It's 'a little scary' that volunteers will have the power to accept and reject broadband applications, said Craig Settles, an analyst and president of consulting firm Successful.com.

    If Settles had read the NTIA announcement, he would have noted that volunteer reviewers will not have the power to accept and reject applications, but instead that instead their "evaluations will be an important factor considered by NTIA in determining whether to award grant funding". Either Settles didn't read the announcement and should have some idea what he is talking about before he shoots his mouth off, or he did read it and he's being deliberately dishonest. Settles then goes on to complain:

    Volunteers may have limited expertise, or they may have biases that aren't evident to the NTIA, he said.

    This is no more true of volunteers than paid reviewers; relevant to these issues, on the expertise issue, the announcement states: "To be considered as a reviewer you must have significant expertise and experience in at least one of the following areas: 1) the design, funding, construction, and operation of broadband networks or public computer centers; 2) broadband-related outreach, training, or education; and 3) innovative programs to increase the demand for broadband services. In addition you must agree to comply with Department of Commerce policies on conflict of interest and confidentiality." (emphasis added)

    Essentially, this are the same kind of requirements that would be put into place for paid reviewers, but Settles real problem is revealed when he says this:

    I think you'd want the best people stimulus money can acquire influencing who the winners are.

    The real problem is that he is that Successful.com is a broadband consulting firm, and that the decision to seek volunteers rather than paid consultants for this task means less total business for broadband consulting firms resulting from the stimulus bill, and more for actual broadband services.

  • Now where to I apply for the money, and where do I apply to vote? I'm looking forward to approving my $4B project involving laughing all the way to the bank (no need to be greedy, I'll leave a little for the others).
  • That there truly is a certain level of knowledge and expertise that should be a requirement for the "volunteers" to participate. I would hate to think someone like my dad, who is the technological equivalent of a sloth, would have any kind of say over this kind of issue.

    I do understand that just the knowledge of the opportunity to volunteer would gleen out quite a large portion of the people you wouldn't want making these kinds of decisions, but all the same, it would be frightening if there was no over-sig

    • [I hope they take into consideration] That there truly is a certain level of knowledge and expertise that should be a requirement for the "volunteers" to participate. I would hate to think someone like my dad, who is the technological equivalent of a sloth, would have any kind of say over this kind of issue.

      You know, you could read the official government announcement of the volunteer opportunity linked in TFA, which specifies the prerequisites for volunteering.

      I do understand that just the knowledge of the

    • I would hate to think someone like my dad, who is the technological equivalent of a sloth, would have any kind of say over this kind of issue.

      Yea, we can't have taxpayers having a say in how their money is spent.

      Falcon

  • Volunteer reviewers will be required to have some connection to the broadband industry, although the volunteers will have to comply with rules from NTIA parent agency the U.S. Department of Commerce on conflicts of interest and confidentiality, the NTIA document said. Reviewers must have "significant expertise and experience" in either designing and building broadband networks, educating or training consumers about broadband, or working in programs to increase demand for broadband, the NTIA document said.

    This is a lot more reassuring, though reading further on below this part of TFA, they make a valid point in that who would volunteer their time for this, with no personal gain involved? I think that quite a few people would because I would hope that people feel passionate about helping to disseminate broadband to their communities, however people are naturally elusive in regards to their time spent away from their families/friends/moms, especially people in a long work day intensive industry like Telecommun

Nothing succeeds like success. -- Alexandre Dumas

Working...