October 25, 2019



Broadband Advisory Council Oct. 21 Meeting Focuses on Connect Illinois Goals

The Broadband Advisory Council met October 21 to further discuss the vision, mission and approach for Connect Illinois - a multi-year, $400 million dollar grant program to improve broadband access throughout the state that was approved this year by Governor Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly.

The Director of the Office of Broadband, Matt Schmit, provided a brief presentation at the meeting. Director Schmit said his office was working to get an RFP out as soon as possible to find a third-party vendor to assist the state with broadband mapping. He also indicated that the goal is still to issue a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the first wave of investment to improve broadband access through Connect Illinois early in 2020, likely in January.

Broadband grant applicants will need to be pre-qualified to submit a grant proposal. If you think your company may apply for a Connect Illinois grant, you should complete the pre-registration process as soon as possible. We have attached a slide deck describing the pre-qualification process for applicants interested in applying for grants. The slides cover the entire registration process, including pre-qualification requirements, and risk assessment, which are both part of the state's Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (GATA) pre-award process. There is also a quick link on our website with the information.   

Pre-qualification requirements affect eligibility and must be completed prior to grant application and maintained throughout the grant period.  The Internal Controls Questionnaire is a risk assessment that is not a part of pre-qualification requirements. Pre-qualification requirements only include:

  • Have a valid FEIN number;
  • Have a valid DUNS number;
  • Have a current SAM.gov account;
  • Not be on the Federal Excluded Parties List;
  • Be in Good Standing with the Illinois Secretary of State, as applicable;
  • Not be on the Illinois Stop Payment list; and,
  • Not be on the Dept. of Healthcare and Family Services Provider Sanctions list.

The slides also address annual Fiscal and Administrative – Internal Controls Questionnaire (ICQ). This risk assessment and the Programmatic risk assessment must be completed before an award is issued, but are not punitive and will not affect a business’ eligibility to apply or receive a grant award.  

The risk assessments are used to evaluate the internal controls of the business/applicant to ensure they can successfully execute the program. If the grant awarding agency determines there is risk, it will set specific conditions upon execution of the award.  These conditions may include asking the business to participate in training sessions, providing them additional technical assistance or taking additional steps in monitoring. If a business is determined to be risky because they do not have capacity to establish fraud, waste and abuse policies, the results of the risk assessment may require the business to participate in related training sessions sometime throughout the grant period. This helps the company understand how to properly manage the grant dollars, even if they do not have established policies.  

Nancy Kaszak, Director of the Illinois Telehealth Initiative at the Partnership for a Connected Illinois, also provided a presentation on telehealth at the BAC meeting. Increasing access to telehealth is one of the three main outcomes highlighted by Gov. Pritzker when he announced the launch of Connect Illinois. Putting the state on a path to increased broadband access for K-12 schools throughout Illinois to ensure students have the tools they need to succeed in the classroom and expanding economic development and opportunity in urban and rural communities throughout Illinois were highlighted as the other main goals. Education and Economic Development will likely be covered at future BAC meetings.

Feel free to contact Randy Nehrt with questions or concerns.

DoIT Changes to K-12 School Service & E-rate

The ITA scheduled a webinar with the Illinois Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT) and the Illinois Century Network (ICN) for service providers interested in learning more about recent changes announced for K-12 public school service and E-rate participation. The webinar was held October 8 with nearly 100 service providers participating. A recording of the webinar, as well as the presentation slide deck, is available for those unable to join Oct. 8 and for further review by participants. I'm resending this information in case anyone missed it in last weeks newsletter.

The webinar and slide presentation includes information for service providers to register with the state to receive RFP notifications and to be eligible to bid on the RFPs. Service Providers interested in responding to the RFPs should register as soon as possible. It was highly recommended that service providers interested in responding to the RFPs register in both of the following two ways:

Illinois BidBuy

Illinois Procurement Gateway

Additional Resources:

Illinois Pathway to Procurement - This website provides helpful information about registering as a vendor and the Illinois procurement process.

USAC - In addition to being registered in BidBuy and the Illinois Procurement Gateway, companies may also monitor RFPs posted on the USAC E-rate website.

 Feel free to contact Randy Nehrt with questions or concerns. 

Illinois Telecommunications Association

312 S. 4th Street, Suite 100

           Springfield, IL 62701             

 (217) 572-1262