Beginning in fiscal year 1999, the Secretary shall establish a program to be known as the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Technology (referred to in this subsection as the “program”). The purpose of the program shall be to strengthen the technological competitiveness of those States that have historically received less Federal research and development funds than those received by a majority of the States.
In making awards under this subsection, the Secretary shall ensure that the awards are awarded on a competitive basis that includes a review of the merits of the activities that are the subject of the award.
To the extent practicable, in carrying out subsection (a), the Secretary shall coordinate the program with other programs of the Department of Commerce.
The Secretary shall establish a Minority Serving Institution Digital and Wireless Technology Opportunity Program that awards grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts to eligible institutions to enable the eligible institutions in acquiring, and augmenting the institutions’ use of, digital and wireless networking technologies to improve the quality and delivery of educational services at eligible institutions.
To be eligible to receive a grant, cooperative agreement, or contract under this subsection, an eligible institution shall submit an application to the Secretary at such time, in such manner, and containing such information as the Secretary may require. Such application, at a minimum, shall include a description of how the funds will be used, including a description of any digital and wireless networking technology to be acquired, and a description of how the institution will ensure that digital and wireless networking technology will be made accessible to, and employed by, students, faculty, and administrators. The Secretary, consistent with subparagraph (C) and in consultation with the advisory council established under subparagraph (B), shall establish procedures to review such applications. The Secretary shall publish the application requirements and review criteria in the Federal Register, along with a statement describing the availability of funds.
The Secretary shall establish an advisory council to advise the Secretary on the best approaches to encourage maximum participation by eligible institutions in the program established under paragraph (1), and on the procedures to review applications submitted to the program. In selecting the members of the advisory council, the Secretary shall consult with representatives of appropriate organizations, including representatives of eligible institutions, to ensure that the membership of the advisory council includes representatives of minority businesses and eligible institution communities. The Secretary shall also consult with experts in digital and wireless networking technology to ensure that such expertise is represented on the advisory council.
Each application submitted under this subsection by an eligible institution shall be reviewed by a panel of individuals selected by the Secretary to judge the quality and merit of the proposal, including the extent to which the eligible institution can effectively and successfully utilize the proposed grant, cooperative agreement, or contract to carry out the program described in paragraph (1). The Secretary shall ensure that the review panels include representatives of minority serving institutions and others who are knowledgeable about eligible institutions and technology issues. The Secretary shall ensure that no individual assigned under this subsection to review any application has a conflict of interest with regard to that application. The Secretary shall take into consideration the recommendations of the review panel in determining whether to award a grant, cooperative agreement, or contract to an eligible institution.
An eligible institution that receives a grant, cooperative agreement, or contract under this subsection that exceeds $2,500,000 shall not be eligible to receive another grant, cooperative agreement, or contract under this subsection.
Grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts may only be awarded to eligible institutions. Eligible institutions may seek funding under this subsection for consortia, which may include other eligible institutions, a State or a State educational agency, local educational agencies, institutions of higher education, community-based organizations, national nonprofit organizations, or businesses, including minority businesses.
The Secretary may provide funds to develop strategic plans to implement grants, cooperative agreements, or contracts awarded under this subsection.
The Secretary may not award a grant, cooperative agreement, or contract to an eligible institution under this subsection unless such institution agrees that, with respect to the costs incurred by the institution in carrying out the program for which the grant, cooperative agreement, or contract was awarded, such institution shall make available, directly, or through donations from public or private entities, non-Federal contributions in an amount equal to 25 percent of the grant, cooperative agreement, or contract awarded by the Secretary, or $500,000, whichever is the lesser amount. The Secretary shall waive the matching requirement for any institution or consortium with no endowment, or an endowment that has a current dollar value lower than $50,000,000.
Not later than 6 months after August 14, 2008, the Secretary shall enter into a contract with the National Academy of Public Administration to conduct periodic assessments of the program established under paragraph (1). The assessments shall be conducted once every 3 years during the 10-year period following August 14, 2008.
In carrying out the assessments under this subparagraph, the National Academy of Public Administration shall review the reports submitted to the Secretary under subparagraph (A).
The term “digital and wireless networking technology” means computer and communications equipment and software that facilitates the transmission of information in a digital format.
The term “minority individual” means an American Indian, Alaskan Native, Black (not of Hispanic origin), Hispanic (including persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Central or South American origin), or Pacific Islander individual.