Connecting Communities: Factors Influencing Project Implementation Success in the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program

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Virginia Tech


This dissertation explores factors that influenced key performance indicators for project implementation success in broadband infrastructure projects funded by the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). Key performance indicators for project implementation success were operationalized as finishing within the 36-month grant period (schedule), within the proposed budget (budget), and constructing the planned number of network miles (outputs). Drawing on research in policy implementation, public administration, nonprofit management, and project management, a framework was created to identify and categorize these factors as project-specific, organization-centric, physical environment, interorganizational, or legal environment (POPIL). A mixed methods approach investigated factor-indicator relationships using Ordinary Least Squares regression and other quantitative analyses of 67 BTOP-funded Comprehensive Community Infrastructure projects and a qualitative postmortem analysis of Citizens Telephone Cooperative's successful New River Valley Regional Open-Access Network (NRV-ROAN) project. Strong and significant regression equations were developed for the schedule adherence, output adherence, and overall project implementation success indicators. Deficient capacity of organizations to implement proposed projects was a significant and strong negative influence on each of these three indicators along with interorganizational relationship issue reports regarding the principal-agent relationship and relationships with other actors. The postmortem analysis included 17 participant interviews and further underscored the importance of sufficient organizational capacity and strong partnerships to enable organizations to overcome challenges they may encounter during implementation. In addition to testing the POPIL framework, this dissertation highlights the importance of alignment of goals and metrics across the legislative, programmatic, and project levels of implementation to ensure that programs and projects do not work at cross-purposes. For practitioners, the findings also emphasize that projects should be designed within an organization's capacity, and prospective partners should have the expertise and resources both to implement a project as proposed and respond to unexpected events.



implementation, project management, Recovery Act, digital divide, organizational capacity, grant administration