I, Mike Dunleavy, Governor of the State of Alaska, under the authority of Article III, Sections 1 and 24 of the Alaska Constitution, and in accordance with AS 44.19.145(c), issue Administrative Order 323 which revokes Administrative Order 322.
Administrative Order 323 reaffirms the establishment of the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband with the following changes: extension of the due date for reporting; reassignment of staffing support responsibility to the Office of the Governor; and the addition of a Task Force member to represent rural healthcare. All other provisions have been preserved.
Improving quality of life, reducing costs, and facilitating fair and competitive markets are key goals in developing and advancing Alaska’s economy and making Alaska a great place to raise families and operate businesses. Deploying and operating broadband networks that can deliver high speed, reliable, and affordable communications services to Alaska’s residents and businesses is an integral part of that effort.
In 2014 and again in 2019, Alaska’s Broadband Task Force highlighted the critical needs and demands for broadband connectivity, as well as some of the challenges to deploying networks in Alaska. Those included difficulties in building and maintaining network facilities in Alaska’s geography and climate, the need for obtaining State authorization, environmental permits and utilization of Rights of Way, and the challenging economics to constructing and operating networks in rural and remote areas of the state.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on the pressing need for reliable, high-speed connectivity for all Alaskans. Closing Alaska’s digital divide is now more important than ever to meet an exponentially growing demand for bandwidth to support basic government and domestic functions, i.e., commerce, innovation, economic development, addressing quality of life issues for Alaskans. This Task Force will review and provide recommendations to the Governor on State of Alaska broadband goals and policies, guidelines for state involvement in broadband infrastructure development, and equitable use of state funds to assist in the buildout of broadband networks. Once the report is received, there may be further clarification and deliverables identified that would require additional work by the Task Force.
All voting members are appointed by, and serve at the pleasure of, the Governor. The Governor shall select a Chair and Vice Chair from the members. The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband will consist of 12 voting members, and two ex-officio members as detailed below:
Two State of Alaska members:
• Department of Education Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner.
• Department of Commerce Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner.
Ten voting members, who are not state officials, who are appointed by, and serve at, the pleasure of the Governor identified as follows:
• One representative of the Alaska Municipal League or a similar organization that represents municipalities in the state;
• One representative of an organization that is representative of Alaska natives in the state;
• One representative of an organization that represents regional rural interests in the state;
• One representative of the telecommunications industry;
• One representative of a statewide organization representing business communities throughout Alaska.
• Two Mayors (one from a city, borough, or municipality located on the road system and one from a city, borough, or municipality located off the road system)
• One representative of the General Public
• One representative of a rural Alaska school district
• One representative of an organization that represents rural healthcare interests in the state.
• The Governor requests two ex-officio members, one who is a member of the Alaska State Senate appointed by the Senate President, and one who is a member of the Alaska House of Representatives, appointed by the Speaker of the House.
DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
The Task Force shall deliver a report to the Governor by November 1, 2021, as defined below:
• Identify and complete a needs assessment of the “gaps” in the current broadband network deployment. Identify communities most in need of upgraded or new infrastructure.
• Provide recommendations for a buildout plan to close remaining gaps and bring high-speed broadband to all Alaskans.
• Evaluate all technologies that are used to provision broadband, identify and assess the pros and cons of each as they pertain to connecting all Alaskans with high-speed connectivity.
• Assess the hurdles to broadband investment and deployment. Make recommendations on how the state can play a role to eliminate them.
• Provide recommendations for a state repository of broadband information and expertise that does not increase the state budget.
• Identify and lay out recommendations of policies and guidelines for state participation in broadband infrastructure development and ongoing operations.
• Recommend program based guidelines or rules for equitable use of state funding in broadband infrastructure development.
• Provide a report and summary of findings and recommendations.
The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband is assigned to the Office of the Governor for administrative support.
Task Force members receive no compensation or other remuneration from the State as members of the Task Force. Members of the Task Force who are not state or federal employees are entitled to per diem and travel expenses in the same manner permitted for members of state boards and commissions. Per diem and travel expenses for members of the Task Force who are a representative of a state or federal agency are the responsibility of that agency.
The Task Force may create advisory-only subcommittees.
The Task Force will meet monthly, at a minimum. Additional meetings may be called by the Chair. The Task Force and its subcommittees will use teleconferencing and other electronic means, to the extent practicable, in order to gain maximum public participation at minimum cost.
At times and locations to be determined by the Chair, the Task Force may convene public meetings to present information and receive comments.
A majority of the members of the Task Force constitutes a quorum for conducting business. Meetings of the Task Force, or any subcommittees thereof shall be conducted, and notice of meetings provided, in accordance with AS 44.62.310 and 44.62.319 (Open Meetings Act).
Records of the Task Force, and all subcommittees are subject to inspection, copying, and distribution as public records under AS 40.25.110 – 40.25.220.
This Order takes effect immediately. The Governor’s Task Force will sunset on November 30, 2022.
Dated this 27th day of September, 2021.