Salem, OR—An audit of the Oregon Broadband Office released today by Secretary of State Shemia Fagan found the office will likely be prepared to receive and facilitate upcoming federal infrastructure grant awards. However, the office will require more assistance, and federal funding specifically earmarked for broadband grant administration, to ensure Oregon receives all the available grant money and disburses it to communities with the most critical needs first.
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get all Oregonians online,” said Secretary of State Shemia Fagan. “Access to affordable, high-speed broadband is a necessity. Without it, kids will struggle in school, adults will be disadvantaged in their careers, small businesses cannot reach their customers and communities will fall behind. I am calling on the Oregon Broadband Office to fully implement the findings of this audit to ensure federal money is used equitably in a way that serves disadvantaged communities first.”
As part of the new federal infrastructure bill which passed in 2021, Oregon may receive between $400 million and $1 billion over the course of the next several years to broaden access to broadband throughout the state and ensure all people of Oregon have access to this digital lifeline. This funding will largely come in the form of grants to be administered through the Oregon Broadband Office.
Auditors found the Oregon Broadband Office will need to focus additional efforts in the areas of strategic planning; documenting and distributing its processes, policies, and procedures, timelines, roadmaps, and milestones to its stakeholders to ensure transparency; and be more aggressive in removing barriers to broadband implementation.
Auditors also note opportunities for the office to effectively monitor and improve broadband programs to close the known broadband gap. The office should pursue collaborative and unique ways of closing the digital divide through continued stakeholder engagement and by establishing dedicated funding for equitable broadband implementation in Oregon.
The audit focused on the Oregon Broadband Office’s 14 statutory requirements set in action by the 2019 House Bill 2173. The auditors made 10 recommendations in total addressed to the Oregon Broadband Office, with the assistance of the Oregon Business Development Department, and the Oregon Broadband Advisory Council.
Read the full audit on the Secretary of State website: https://sos.oregon.gov/audits/Documents/2023-02.pd...