Broadband Authority will write a request for information | Broadband
“We don’t know what we don’t know”
A thorny debate over whether to publish a request for information (RFI) or request for proposals (RFP) led the Broadband Authority’s regular meeting last Monday, June 7, into a working session on Friday evening.
Established in January 2021 with the goal of providing affordable broadband for Rappahannock County, the authority is now looking for an internet service provider who may be willing to partner with the county on a request for state funding. State and federal funds have become increasingly available over the past year thanks to the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI) and the US bailout, but funding agencies are requiring municipalities to come up with collaborative projects. with established suppliers.
At Monday afternoon’s meeting, County Administrator Garrey Curry prepared a draft RFP, much to the dismay of Authority Member Ron Frazier.
“Our needs are unknown. We really don’t know what we don’t know, ”said Frazier, who is also the county’s longest-serving member of the county supervisory board. “And for us it is enough to throw [a request for proposals] out there… bringing someone in and pulling broadband across the county is not economically feasible… we have to find out who is interested and what they can offer us.
Frazier accused Curry of violating the authority’s decision at a previous meeting, saying they voted to draft a request for information.
“Speaking of violating what you voted on, no one has stepped forward to do anything. And I fell on the sword and said I would develop something for you, and I developed what I thought you wanted, ”said Curry. The administrator went on to apologize strongly for “spending a weekend writing this” and “for the week or two, I’ve wasted your time.”
“There are a lot of things here that I think could easily include a request for information,” said Authority member Keir Whitson. “If it’s just about stepping away from any level of specificity, then maybe we can just go through it… and identify particularly problematic and overly specific areas and we call it an RFI.”
In their continuing meeting yesterday, members of the broadband authority reviewed RFIs posted by other municipalities across the Commonwealth and edited the draft that the county administrator had presented. The authority agreed that Frazier and Donehey would form a subcommittee to complete the draft and deliver it on Thursday, June 17, at their continuing meeting at 6 p.m. at the Rappahannock County Courthouse.