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Broadband Board Fast-Tracks Corrective Action Plan

While the V.I. Next Generation Network (viNGN) works on a corrective action plan in response to a recent federal audit, the company’s board members discussed postponing the opening of local public computer centers and streamlining its vendor payment process during a meeting on St. Thomas Friday.

The V.I. Next Generation Network oversees the territory’s broadband initiative, which is being funded in large part by a series of federal grants through the National Telecommunication Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). During its regular meeting last month, viNGN board chairman Gov. John deJongh Jr. said that the broadband initiative is subject to a grants administrative audit, which was conducted in June.

A letter outlining the findings was submitted to viNGN’s parent company, the Public Finance Authority, on Aug. 31st by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and deJongh called an emergency session of the viNGN board to respond to their call for a corrective action plan, and to put together a team that would help develop one.

DeJongh said the federal government was looking to have more formal procedures in place, and more personnel, which board members also focused on during the viNGN’s meeting Friday.

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The board’s vice-chairman, Alfred Boschulte, said that his audit committee was meeting on a regular basis to discuss the corrective action plan, what it entails, and how to respond to NOAA’s request.

Boschulte said he would be giving up his seat on the audit committee after board members voted Friday to put him at the head of viNGN’s new Business Operations Committee, whose purpose is to oversee and implement the corrective action plan while working with advisors from the NTIA.

Board member Peter Shultz will be taking Boschulte’s vacant seat on the audit committee.

In light of the federal government’s concerns and findings, deJongh said the board would be implementing a two-phase approval process for vendor payments, which begins with a review from law firm and viNGN advisors Winston & Strawn LLC, before being forwarded to the NTIA to get their "concurrence" on any payments.

Board members voted to begin the approval process on three contracts:

  • IT Telecom in the amount of $503,591to help build and install a submarine cable between St. Thomas and St. Croix, and St. Thomas and Water Island (funding for this item has already been identified);
  • Antillean Engineering for approximately $18,000;
  • AEG for the warehousing and hazard protection of materials for the project.

The board also voted to put on hold discussions with other vendors until they hear back from the NTIA. DeJongh said the corrective action plan is due to the NTIA by Oct. 3.

Board members attending Friday’s meeting were Boschulte, deJongh, Hugo Hodge Jr., Keith O’Neale, Shultz and Douglas Woodhead.

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While the V.I. Next Generation Network (viNGN) works on a corrective action plan in response to a recent federal audit, the company's board members discussed postponing the opening of local public computer centers and streamlining its vendor payment process during a meeting on St. Thomas Friday.

The V.I. Next Generation Network oversees the territory's broadband initiative, which is being funded in large part by a series of federal grants through the National Telecommunication Information Administration's (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). During its regular meeting last month, viNGN board chairman Gov. John deJongh Jr. said that the broadband initiative is subject to a grants administrative audit, which was conducted in June.

A letter outlining the findings was submitted to viNGN's parent company, the Public Finance Authority, on Aug. 31st by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and deJongh called an emergency session of the viNGN board to respond to their call for a corrective action plan, and to put together a team that would help develop one.

DeJongh said the federal government was looking to have more formal procedures in place, and more personnel, which board members also focused on during the viNGN's meeting Friday.

The board's vice-chairman, Alfred Boschulte, said that his audit committee was meeting on a regular basis to discuss the corrective action plan, what it entails, and how to respond to NOAA's request.

Boschulte said he would be giving up his seat on the audit committee after board members voted Friday to put him at the head of viNGN's new Business Operations Committee, whose purpose is to oversee and implement the corrective action plan while working with advisors from the NTIA.

Board member Peter Shultz will be taking Boschulte's vacant seat on the audit committee.

In light of the federal government's concerns and findings, deJongh said the board would be implementing a two-phase approval process for vendor payments, which begins with a review from law firm and viNGN advisors Winston & Strawn LLC, before being forwarded to the NTIA to get their "concurrence" on any payments.

Board members voted to begin the approval process on three contracts:

  • IT Telecom in the amount of $503,591to help build and install a submarine cable between St. Thomas and St. Croix, and St. Thomas and Water Island (funding for this item has already been identified);
  • Antillean Engineering for approximately $18,000;
  • AEG for the warehousing and hazard protection of materials for the project.

The board also voted to put on hold discussions with other vendors until they hear back from the NTIA. DeJongh said the corrective action plan is due to the NTIA by Oct. 3.

Board members attending Friday's meeting were Boschulte, deJongh, Hugo Hodge Jr., Keith O'Neale, Shultz and Douglas Woodhead.