State Broadband Grant Programs: Scoring Metrics

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Pew Charitable Trusts assesses broadband grant scoring metrics, with side-by-side comparisons of the metrics used by Indiana, Minnesota, and Virginia. These three states represent both relatively well-established state broadband grant programs as well as
programs that updated their scoring systems in 2020 and 2021. Major points include:

  • The scoring metrics for evaluating grant applications can be a tool to promote and enforce state priorities.
  • State grant programs use different point scales for scoring grant applications.
  • Each program emphasizes different components in its scoring of applications, based on state priorities.
  • States may also incorporate other priorities into grant scoring (for example, digital equity, affordability, or adoption efforts).
  • States can prioritize policy goals either by including them in the scoring rubric or by addressing them through screening eligibility requirements or a subsequent review phase following the application scoring process.
  • Notably, the potential impact of a state grant program’s scoring process may be limited by a need to classify areas that have received past federal or state funding as ineligible for grant funds. While this can serve as a protection against “overbuilding” or for complying with federal requirements, projects funded through these previous programs may offer service at inadequate speeds and census block-level analysis may overrepresent the actual level of coverage.

[Jake Varn is Principal Associate at the Broadband Access Initiative at The Pew Charitable Trusts. Analysis dated November 4, 2021.]

Broadband Grant Program—Scoring Metrics