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The Schools and Libraries Program News Archive gives you access to all announcements related to the Schools and Libraries Program as they were made throughout the years. The archives will be updated as new announcements are made.
In an expanded outreach effort to recipients of E-rate discounted services, USAC has engaged BearingPoint, Inc. to conduct site visits, which will:
BearingPoint is a global consulting firm, providing services to assist clients with their business process and technology issues; they work extensively with government, education, and technology organizations.
The site visit initiative will provide USAC with valuable information on both program compliance and outreach efforts. Under this initiative, USAC will select approximately 80 school and library sites for visits each month beginning in mid-January 2005. The selection will be based on recent invoice activity. As Bearing Point provides reports on its visits, USAC will review the information gathered and prepare and post a "Best Practices" document based on that information. USAC will also take this information into account when designing future outreach and education efforts, and will explore administrative changes to make the application process run more smoothly.
The Schools and Libraries Committee of the USAC Board of Directors has approved a 66-day filing window for Funding Year 2005 (July 1, 2005 through June 30, 2006). The window will open at noon (EST) on Tuesday, December 14, 2004 and close at 11:59 pm (EST) on Thursday, February 17, 2005. Pursuant to the FCC's Third Report and Order (FCC 03-323), which adopted a more formal, transparent process for updating the Eligible Services List, the opening of the filing window must occur 60 days after release of the Commission public notice announcing the final list. The list was issued by the Commission on October 14, which means that the window opening date may be no earlier than December 13. Accordingly, the window opening will be delayed from the traditional early November opening. The window close date has been moved later in time to ensure an adequate filing window.
It is important to note that Forms 470 may be filed -- online or on paper -- today. There is no need to wait for the opening of the filing window to post Forms 470. While there will be a new Form 470 for Funding Year 2005, applicants posting Forms 470 may use the existing form until the new form is available. If the existing Form 470 is used, that will be all that will be required for 470 posting for 2005 -- no additional action will be necessary to meet the requirement to post for new services. New certifications on the new Form 470 will be on the new Form 471 as well, so applicants using the current Form 470 will certify to those new requirements on the new Form 471.
If applicants wait for the opening of the filing window to file the Form 470, they may have difficulty completing the procurement process and filing the Form 471 by the close of the filing window. Any applicant who would be so affected is strongly encouraged to file the Form 470 before the opening of the 471 filing window.
There will be a new Form 471 for Funding Year 2005. That new form will become available for online filing as the filing window opens. A summary of the changes to Form 471 can be found on this web site in the Form 471 Changes presentation [PowerPoint format; 162kb].
For a Form 471 to be treated as having been filed within the window, the following must occur:
As always, we encourage applicants to file Forms 471 and the 471 and 470 certifications as early in the filing window as possible and to submit the Item 21 attachments as soon after filing the Form 471 as possible. With a later filing window close, USAC will have less time than it has in prior years to review applications before the start of the funding year. When we receive all of an applicant's applications along with the Item 21 attachments, they will go into Program Integrity Assurance review. Applications filed early in the window can generally be expected to be ready earlier than later-filed applications for Funding Commitment Decision Letters.
We also encourage applicants to separate their Priority 1 requests (telecommunications services and Internet access) from their Priority 2 requests (internal connections other than basic maintenance, and basic maintenance of internal connections) and file them on separate Forms 471.
There are some important changes in the E-rate program for Funding Year 2005 (including the Form 471 changes mentioned above). An easy way to become familiar with these changes is to review the training presentations for Funding Year 2005 on the Training Presentations page of this web site or to view recorded WebEx training sessions on the same topics on our branded WebEx site.
In early August, USAC suspended issuance of Funding Commitment Decision Letters (FCDLs) for both schools and libraries and rural health care providers for all funding years. USAC has worked closely with the FCC since then and has now determined the amount of unobligated cash it has available to cover new commitments and will resume issuing new FCDLs within the next two weeks.
The Fifth Report and Order (FCC 04-190, released August 13, 2004) states that all participants in the E-Rate program must obtain an FCC Registration Number (FCC RN). Participants are required to obtain at least one FCC RN for each Taxpayer Identification Number by November 1, 2004, pursuant to Public Notice DA 04-2994 (released September 16, 2004) and Public Notice FCC 04-230 (released September 28, 2004).
FCC RNs are required for entities that do business with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Therefore, if your entity already has an FCC license (for example, for ITFS or a radio station), you may already have an FCC RN. If you already have an FCC RN, you do not need to get a new one simply for the purposes of E-rate.
We anticipate that we will be able to provide a procedure to assist applicants in obtaining FCC RNs corresponding to individual Entity Numbers by the opening of the Form 471 application filing window. However, this does not relieve your obligation to obtain at least one FCC RN by November 1. For now, please be aware that, although Form 470 and Form 471 for Funding Year 2005 do not have fields for FCC RNs, you will be asked to provide FCC RNs for all Billed Entities and recipients of service during PIA review.
Who Should Obtain an FCC RN
The following entities participating in the E-rate program must have FCC RNs:
NOTE: Although an entity may have only one Taxpayer Identification Number (see below), that entity may have to obtain more than one FCC RN. While we encourage entities to obtain all of the FCC RNs that they need on their own, the law requires that they obtain at least one FCC RN by November 1, 2004.
Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) / Employer Identification Number (EIN)
A Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) is a nine-digit number that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires of all individuals, businesses, and other employers to identify their tax accounts with the IRS.
How to Obtain an FCC RN
You can apply online for an FCC RN from the FCC web site.
We strongly encourage you to apply online. However, you can also file a paper copy of the CORES Registration Form. This form can also be faxed to you by contacting the FCC Registration Number Helpline at 1-877-480-3201. The instructions to the Form 160 include directions for filing. Should you have any further questions about filing on paper, contact the FCC Registration Number Helpline.
Helpful Tips for Applying for an FCC RN
Because the CORES system is used in conjunction with many different FCC programs, the information requested in the application process may not closely match that of the entities that participate in the E-rate program. NOTE: We do not use the type and subtype information you provide in this application for our review of funding requests.
1. Business Type and Subtype
2. Business Name
3. Organization Name
4. Contact Person
If you need more information, please contact one of the following:
SLD is pleased to announce that registration for service provider training in Providence, Rhode Island is now open for registration. Click the following link for more information, 2004 SP Training. This link can also be found under the Training and Outreach bar on SLD's home page. Please note that SLD will be providing training in Providence instead of Chicago.
Service providers will be required to pre-register and guarantee payment in advance. The Training Agenda and Presentations and Draft Forms for the training sessions are available on the 2004 Service Provider Training page. Attendees should print out hard copies of the training materials, because no hard copies will be provided at the workshops. Please submit your inquiries with respect to the SP training only by clicking here.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began treating funding commitment
decision letters (FCDLs) issued for the Universal Service Schools and Libraries
and Rural Health Care Support Mechanisms as budgetary obligations on September
30, 2004. At that time, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC)
began tracking the amount of unobligated Universal Service Fund (USF) monies
on hand to support new funding commitments. USAC expects that, going forward,
at various times, it may have less unobligated cash than the total dollar value
of new commitments ready to be issued. View
Three documents related to audits have been posted to the Reference Area of this web site. These documents contain information gleaned from beneficiary audits conducted under the Schools and Libraries Support Mechanism.
Beneficiary Audits - Auditors’ Observations replaces the document Beneficiary Audits - Preliminary Auditors’ Observations. This document lists the observations made by auditors during the audits for Funding Year 2000.
Audits of Beneficiaries Fact Sheet is an updated version of an existing document. This document provides a short description of the audit process and provides a list of documents auditors will request as part of an audit.
Best Practices is a new document that provides information on best practices. These practices, if followed, will assist applicants and service providers to comply with program rules.
Two important deadlines are approaching for certain Funding Year 2004 and Funding Year 2003 applicants.
The deadline for postmarking invoices (Form 472 BEAR Forms and Form 474 SPI Forms) for FY2003 recurring services is October 28, 2004. For more information, please refer to Invoicing Deadlines and Extension Requests posted in the Reference Area of this web site.
If your FY2004 FCDL was dated on or before July 1, 2004 and your Service Start Date for FY2004 services is July 1, 2004, your Form 486 must be received or postmarked no later than October 29, 2004. For more information, please refer to Form 486 Deadlines posted in the Reference Area of this web site. Remember that if you received a partial funding commitment on a funding request and are appealing that reduction, you must still meet the Form 486 deadline for that funding request.
Key SLD topics covered by SLD staff at the 2004 SLD TTT Workshop have been recorded and will be available October 15, 2004. Recorded sessions will be posted on the SLD’s WebEx site. Please follow the link to Recorded Sessions. If you need more information on WebEx recordings, you can access the SLD’s WebEx Recordings page by following the WebEx Recording link under the Training and Outreach bar on the left side of SLD’s website.
Please submit any questions regarding WebEx training and/or the recordings via e-mail.
A series of live E-rate training sessions will be offered via WebEx to service providers, applicants and consultants. The sessions will begin on October 20, 2004 and run through the first week of February 2005. Each session will be offered several times so participants can choose a time that best fits their schedules.
The topics covered in the training sessions will be the same as those offered during the Train-the-Trainer workshop held on September 27–29, 2004. To review those presentations, you can visit the “Train-the-Trainer” Presentations 2004 page in the Reference Area of this web site.
If you would like to attend a live training session, please note the following:
All required fields in the registration form must be properly completed before
the SLD can make a decision on your request to participate in a session.
If you have any questions, please submit them by e-mail.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) directed the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), the administrator of the Schools and Libraries (E-rate) and Rural Health Care Universal Service Support Mechanisms, to change USAC’s accounting methodology by October 1, 2004 to the same methodology that the Federal Government uses. Among other things, we were informed that this required USAC to change the rules that we use to account for various financial transactions, including funding commitments in those programs. The accounting changes were not intended to have any impact on the way in which we administer the programs themselves. View full article
SLD is pleased to announce that it will be providing a series of three 2-day live training sessions for service providers. Click the following link for more information, 2004 SP Training. This link can also be found under the Training and Outreach bar on SLD's home page.
Service providers will be required to pre-register and guarantee payment in advance. The Training Agenda and Presentations for the training sessions will be available in advance of the sessions on the 2004 Service Provider Training page. Attendees should print out hard copies of the training materials, because no hard copies will be provided at the workshops. Please submit your inquiries with respect to the SP training only by clicking here.
The SLD held a Train-the-Trainer workshop on September 27–29, 2004, in Arlington, Virginia. The presentations from this workshop have been posted to the "Train-the-Trainer" 2004 Workshop Presentations page in the Reference Area of this web site.
Drafts of applicant program forms were distributed at this workshop for reference purposes, and copies of those draft forms can also be accessed from this page. The Draft Form 470 and Draft Form 471 are the final drafts submitted for approval to the Office of Management and Budget; all other draft forms on this page are preliminary drafts that have been modified only by additions or changes to certifications that were mandated by the FCC’s Fifth Report and Order.
Applicants and members of the public can now view the SLD’s pilot Eligible Products Database.
The Database consists of products that participating manufacturers have indicated are E-rate eligible as Internal Connections.
The initial public interface provides a browse and search function to find specific product types (such as “router”) and to view products from specific manufacturers. Additional functionality is currently under development.
Twenty-five manufacturers are participating in the pilot program. Enrollment is now open for additional national manufacturers of E-rate-eligible internal connections products.
On September 13, 2004, the FCC’s Fifth Report and Order (FCC 04-190) [PDF, 352kb] was published in the Federal Register. This order adopts measures to protect against waste, fraud and abuse. was published in the Federal Register. This order adopts measures to protect against waste, fraud and abuse. A summary of the order appears below.
The Fifth Report and Order was published in the Federal Register, Vol. 69, No. 176, on pages 55097-55111. The effective date of the Fifth Report and Order is October 13, 2004, except for §§ 1.8003, 54.504(b)(2), 54.504(c)(1), 54.504(f), 54.508, and 54.516 which contain information collection requirements that have not been approved by the Office of Management and Budget. The FCC will publish a document in the Federal Register announcing the effective date for those sections.
Following are direct quotes from the Order on these measures:
Framework for recovery of funds. .[F]unds disbursed in violation of the statute or a rule that implements the statute or a substantive program goal must be recovered. (para. 18) On the other hand, . recovery may not be appropriate for violation of all rules regardless of the reason for their codification. (para. 19)
Amounts disbursed in violation of the statute or a rule that implements the statute or a substantive program goal must be recovered in full. In situations where disbursement of funds is warranted under the statute and rules, but an erroneous amount has been disbursed, the amount of funds that should be recovered is the difference between what the beneficiary is legitimately allowed under our rules and the total amount of funds disbursed to the beneficiary or service provider. [The FCC] set forth below a number of examples to illustrate the applications of this principle. (para. 20)
Competitive Bidding Requirements. . [The FCC] should recover the full amount disbursed for any funding requests in which the beneficiary failed to comply with the [FCC's] competitive bidding requirements as set forth in section 54.504 and 54.511 of [the FCC's] rules and amplified in related [FCC] orders. For instance, it is appropriate to recover the full amount of funds disbursed for a funding request when the beneficiary signs a contract before the end of the 28-day posting period. Likewise, it is appropriate to recover the full amount disbursed in a situation where the beneficiary failed to consider price as the primary factor when evaluating among competing bids. (para. 21) [The FCC] note[s] that [FCC] rules do not require applicants to affirmatively seek out price quotes from multiple sources if no service provider responds to a Form 470 posting. (footnote 41)
Necessary Resources Certification. . [A] lack of necessary resources to use the supported services warrants full recovery of funds disbursed for all relevant funding requests. The requirements that beneficiaries have sufficient computer equipment, software, staff training, internal connections, maintenance and electrical capacity to make use of the supported services are integral to ensuring that these monies are used for their intended purposes, without waste, fraud or abuse. (para. 22)
Service Substitution. . [I]n situations where a service substitution would meet the criteria now established in [the FCC's] rules, the appropriate amount to recover is the difference between what was originally approved for disbursement and what would have been approved, had the entity requested and obtained authorization for a service substitution. In situations where the service substitution would not meet the criteria established in [the FCC's] rules, the appropriate amount to recover is the full amount associated with the service in question. (para. 23)
Failure to Pay Non-discounted Share. . [A]ll funds disbursed should be recovered for any funding requests in which the beneficiary failed to pay its non-discounted share. While [the FCC's] rules do not set forth a specific timeframe for determining when a beneficiary has failed to pay its non-discounted share, . a reasonable timeframe is 90 days after delivery of service. . [A] failure to pay more than 90 days after completion of service (which is roughly equivalent to three monthly billing cycles) presumptively violates [the FCC's] rule that the beneficiary must pay its share. For purposes of resolving any outstanding issues relating to audits conducted prior to the issuance of this clarification, [the FCC] direct[s] USAC to determine whether full payment had been made as of the time the audit report was finalized. If any amounts remained outstanding at the conclusion of the audit work, that constitutes a rule violation warranting recovery of all amounts disbursed. Information on payment of the non-discounted share shall be sought from the beneficiary. (para. 24)
Duplicative Services. . [FCC] rules prohibit the funding of duplicative services, defined as services that provide the same functionality to the same population in the same location during the same period of time. In such circumstances, [the FCC] ordinarily will recover the amount associated with the more expensive of the duplicative services, except in situations where there are indications of fraud, where [the FCC] may recover the full amount of the funding request. (para. 25)
Failure to Complete Service within the Funding Year. . [T]he failure to complete delivery of services by the relevant deadline for a particular funding year is a rule violation that warrants recovery of all funds disbursed for services installed or delivered after the close of the funding year. [The FCC] note[s] that parties are always free to seek an extension of time to install non-recurring services from USAC, consistent with the conditions set by the [FCC] for such an extension. (para. 26)
Discount Calculation Violation. When applicants fail to calculate properly their appropriate discount rate, the amount disbursed in violation of this rule is the difference between the amount of support to which the beneficiary is legitimately allowed and the amount requested or provided. . [I]n the narrow circumstance where there is evidence that an applicant has manipulated its discount rate in a deliberate attempt to defraud the government, full recovery may be appropriate. Moreover, in situations where the applicant would not have qualified for any support for internal connections had it properly applied the discount, the recovery would be the entire amount disbursed. (para. 27)
Service Not Provided for Full Funding Year. Similarly, if an applicant requested and received funding for a full year, and the service provider billed for the full year, but provided services for less than the full year, . it would be appropriate to pro-rate support and recover the excess. (para. 28)
Recovery Only for Waste, Fraud and Abuse. [The FCC] reject[s] the argument some commenters make that applicants should not be required to repay the fund unless waste, fraud or abuse is established. . If there are unique reasons why a particular entity believes recovery for a rule violation is inappropriate, that party is always free to present such information in seeking review of USAC's decision to recover monies, pursuant to section 54.722. (para. 29)
While [the FCC has] not, to date, enunciated a bright line standard for determining whether a particular funding request or activities related to it depart from this standard to a degree that constitutes waste, fraud or abuse, [the FCC] emphasize[s] that [the FCC], and USAC in the first instance, retain the discretion to make such determinations on a case-by-case basis in the course of examining specific factual circumstances. . [I]n specific cases where there is evidence of fraudulent conduct, it would be appropriate to refer such matters to law enforcement officials. (para. 30)
Administrative limitations period for audits or other investigations. . [The FCC] will initiate and complete any inquiries to determine whether or not statutory or rule violations exist within a five year period after final delivery of service for a specific funding year. . USAC and the [FCC] shall carry out any audit or investigation that may lead to discovery of any violation of the statute or a rule within five years of the final delivery of service for a specific funding year. (para. 32)
Recovery for de minimis amounts. . [I]t does not serve the public interest to seek to recover funds associated with statutory or rule violations when the administrative costs of seeking recovery outweigh the dollars subject to recovery. Accordingly, [the FCC] direct[s] USAC not to seek recovery of such de minimis amounts. [The FCC] direct[s] USAC to provide the Wireline Competition Bureau and the Office of Managing Director sufficient information regarding the administrative costs of seeking recovery of improperly disbursed funds so that a de minimis amount can be determined. (para. 35)
Pattern of rule violations. . USAC should subject any school or library that exhibits systematic noncompliance with governing FCC rules to more rigorous scrutiny in the subsequent funding years. [The FCC] direct[s] USAC to implement this practice and to refer such situations to the [Wireline Competition] Bureau, as appropriate, for further consideration. (para. 36)
Offset options and booking of recovery amounts. . [The FCC] eliminate[s] the offset options adopted in the Commitment Adjustment Implementation Order from the fund recovery plan. (para. 38)
. [R]ecovery amounts should be recorded in the accounting records for the Universal Service Fund consistent with Federal Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). (para. 39)
Treatment of applicants subject to recovery. Earlier this year . [the FCC] adopted a rule . providing that the [FCC] shall withhold action on any application or request for benefits made by an entity that is delinquent in its non-tax debts owed to the [FCC], and shall dismiss such applications or requests if the delinquent debt is not resolved . (. the "red light" rule) (para. 41) ... [The FCC] amend[s its] rules to bring all E-rate beneficiaries and service providers within the ambit of the red light rule. [The FCC] require[s] all entities that participate in the schools and libraries universal service support mechanism to obtain an FCC Registration Number. This rule change shall go into effect pursuant to the DCIA Order, and shall apply to all applications and recovery actions pending at that time. Thereafter, USAC shall dismiss any outstanding requests for funding commitments if a school or library, or service provider, as applicable, has not paid the outstanding debt, or made otherwise satisfactory arrangements, within 30 days of the date of the notice provided for in [the FCC's] commitment adjustment procedures. In this regard, [the FCC] expressly recognize[s] that a school or library's ability to pay outstanding debts may be dependent on action by state or local officials on budgetary requests, and the timing of such budgetary action may be considered in determining satisfactory repayment options. (para. 42)
Applications will not be dismissed pursuant to [the FCC's] red light rule if the applicant has timely filed a challenge through administrative appeal or a contested judicial proceeding to either the existence or amount of the debt owed to the [FCC]. [The FCC's] recent DCIA Order expressly notes that appeals made to USAC shall be deemed administrative appeals. (para. 43)
Moreover, even if outstanding debts to the universal service fund have been repaid, [the FCC] think[s] it appropriate to subject subsequent applications from beneficiaries that have been found to have violated the statute or rules in the past to greater review. . Such heightened scrutiny could entail, for instance, requiring additional documentary evidence to demonstrate current compliance with all applicable requirements, or submission of a corrective plan of action to address past errors. It may also include site visits or other investigatory activities. Such heightened scrutiny could continue as long as necessary. [The FCC] envision[s], however, that in most instances, such heightened scrutiny would no longer be necessary in subsequent years, after USAC determines that a pending application is compliant with the statute and [FCC] requirements. (para. 44)
Document retention requirements. [The FCC] require[s] both applicants and service providers to retain all records related to the application for, receipt and delivery of discounted services for a period of five years after the last day of service delivered for a particular Funding Year. This rule change shall go into effect when this order becomes effective and, as such, will apply to Funding Year 2004 and thereafter. (para.47)
. [The FCC] provide[s] for illustrative purposes the following description of documents that service providers and program beneficiaries must retain pursuant to this recordkeeping requirement, as applicable:
Pre-bidding Process. Beneficiaries must retain the technology plan and technology plan approval letter. If consultants are involved, beneficiaries must retain signed copies of all written agreements with E-rate consultants.
Bidding Process. All documents used during the competitive bidding process must be retained. Beneficiaries must retain documents such as: Request(s) for Proposal (RFP(s)) including evidence of the publication date; documents describing the bid evaluation criteria and weighting, as well as the bid evaluation worksheets; all written correspondence between the beneficiary and prospective bidders regarding the products and service sought; all bids submitted, winning and losing; and documents related to the selection of service provider(s). Service providers must retain any of the relevant documents described above; in particular, a copy of the winning bid submitted to the applicant and any correspondence with the applicant. Service providers participating in the bidding process that do not win the bid need not retain any documents.
Contracts. Both beneficiaries and service providers must retain executed contracts, signed and dated by both parties. All amendments and addendums to the contracts must be retained, as well as other agreements relating to E-rate between the beneficiary and service provider, such as up-front payment arrangements.
Application Process. The beneficiary must retain all documents relied upon to submit the Form 471, including National School Lunch Program eligibility documentation supporting the discount percentage sought; documents to support the necessary resources certification pursuant to section 54.505 of the Commission's rules, including budgets; and documents used to prepare the Item 21 description of services attachment.
Purchase and Delivery of Services. Beneficiaries and service providers should retain all documents related to the purchase and delivery of E-rate eligible services and equipment. Beneficiaries must retain purchase requisitions, purchase orders, packing slips, delivery and installation records showing where equipment was delivered and installed or where services were provided. Service providers must retain all applicable documents listed above.
Invoicing. Both service providers and beneficiaries must retain all invoices. Beneficiaries must retain records proving payment of the invoice, such as accounts payable records, service provider statement, beneficiary check, bank statement or ACH transaction record. Beneficiaries must also be able to show proof of service provider payment to the beneficiary of the BEAR, if applicable. Service providers must retain similar records showing invoice payment by beneficiary to the service provider, USAC payment to the service provider, payment of the BEAR to the beneficiary, through receipt or deposit records, bank statements, beneficiary check or automated clearing house (ACH) transaction record, as applicable.
Inventory. Beneficiaries must retain asset and inventory records of equipment purchased and components of supported internal connections services sufficient to verify the location of such equipment. Beneficiaries must also retain detailed records documenting any transfer of equipment within three years after purchase and the reasons for such a transfer.
Forms and Rule Compliance. All program forms, attachments and documents submitted to USAC must be retained. Beneficiaries and service providers must retain all official notification letters from USAC, as applicable. Beneficiaries must retain FCC Form 470 certification pages (if not certified electronically), FCC Form 471 and certification pages (if not certified electronically), FCC Form 471 Item 21 attachments, FCC Form 479, FCC Form 486, FCC Form 500, FCC Form 472. Beneficiaries must also retain any documents submitted to USAC during program integrity assurance (PIA) review, Selective Review and Invoicing Review, or for SPIN change or other requests. Service providers must retain FCC Form 473, FCC Form 474 and FCC Form 498, as well as service check documents. In addition, beneficiaries must retain documents to provide compliance with other program rules, such as records relevant to show compliance with CIPA. (para. 48)
.[T]he rule . requires that program participants retain all documents necessary to demonstrate compliance with the statute and [FCC] rules regarding the application for, receipt, and delivery of services receiving schools and libraries discounts. Thus, the descriptive list above is provided as a guideline but cannot be considered exhaustive. (para. 49)
. [S]chools, libraries, and service providers remain subject to both random audits and to other audits (or investigations) to examine an entity's compliance with the statute and the [FCC's] rules initiated at the discretion of the [FCC], USAC, or another authorized governmental oversight body. . [F]ailing to comply with an authorized audit or other investigation conducted pursuant to section 54.516 of the [FCC's] rules (e.g., failing to retain records or failing to make available required documentation) is a rule violation that may warrant recovery of universal service support monies that were previously disbursed for the time period for which such information is being sought. (para. 50)
Technology plans. . [A]pplicants with technology plans that have not yet been approved when they file FCC Form 470 must certify that they understand their technology plans must be approved prior to the commencement of service. . [A]pplicants still are expected to develop a technology plan prior to requesting bids on services in FCC Form 470; all that [the FCC is] deferring is the timing of the approval of such plan by the state or other approved certifying body. Second, [the FCC amends its] rules to require that applicants formally certify, in FCC Form 486, that the technology plans on which they based their purchases were approved before they began to receive service. (para. 56)
[The FCC] hereby grant[s] a waiver of section 54.504(b)(2)(vii) of [its] rules to all applicants that failed to have a technology plan approved at the time they filed their FCC Form 470 or that had obtained approval of a technology plan that covered only part of the funding year, but that obtained approval of a plan that covered the entire funding year before the commencement of service in the relevant funding year. . [H]owever, . this limited waiver does not extend to instances where the applicant failed to obtain an approval of a technology plan at all. (para. 57)
. [T]echnology plans should continue to focus on ensuring that technologies are used effectively to achieve educational goals rather than assuming a greater role in monitoring the procurement process. . [T]he technology plan should focus on "research and planning for technology needs " rather than act as preliminary RFPs. (para.58)
[The FCC] agree[s] . that the [FCC's] technology plan requirements should be harmonized with the technology planning goals and requirements of the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Institute for Museum and Library Services. In fact, USAC has already been treating technology plans approved under the Department of Education's Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) as acceptable technology plans subject to one qualification. Consistent with the [FCC] requirement that program applicants demonstrate that they have the necessary resources required to utilize [E]-rate discounts, USAC has required that the EETT technology plans be supplemented by an analysis that indicates that the applicant is aware of and will be able to secure the financial resources it will need to achieve its technology aims, including technology training, software, and other elements outside the coverage of the [FCC's] support program. . [The FCC] adopt[s] a rule that codifies this method of compliance with the technology plan requirement. (para. 59)
|(1)||establish clear goals and a realistic strategy for using telecommunications and information technology to improve education or library services;|
|(2)||have a professional development strategy to ensure that the staff understands how to use these new technologies to improve education or library services;|
|(3)||include an assessment of the telecommunication services, hardware, software, and other services that will be needed to improve education or library services;|
|(4)||provide for a sufficient budget to acquire and support the non-discounted elements of the plan: the hardware, software, professional development, and other services that will be needed to implement the strategy; and|
|(5)||include an evaluation process that enables the school or library to monitor progress toward the specified goals and make mid-course corrections in response to new developments and opportunities as they arise. (para. 60)|
. [T]he ability of an entity whose technology plan complies with the criteria in the preceding paragraphs to order services is only limited by the scope of its technology plan's strategy for using telecommunications services and information technology to meet its educational goals. . [A]pplicants are free to switch from wireline to wireless technologies, from high to even higher speed transmission speeds, and to make other similar changes in the services they order as long as those services are designed to deliver the educational applications they have prepared to provide. Onlyif an applicant desires to order services beyond the scope of its existing technology plan does it need to prepare and seek timely approval of an appropriately revised technology plan. (para. 61)
. [T]o address non-public schools that are not eligible to secure approval of their technology plan from their states . USAC has been . permitting such schools to obtain approval of their plans from entities that USAC has certified as qualified to provide such evaluations and approval. [The FCC] amend[s its] rules to codify this practice. (para. 63)
Certifications - Form 470. [The FCC] revise[s] the current language of section 54.504(b)(2)(v) to require applicants to certify that support under the support mechanism is conditional. [The FCC] replace[s] the current language of section 54.504(b)(2)(v) with the following sentence: "Support under this support mechanism is conditional upon the school(s) and library(ies) securing access to all of the resources, including computers, training, software, maintenance, internal connections, and electrical connections necessary to use the services purchased effectively." (para. 66)
[The FCC] will require applicants to certify on the Form 470 that the services for which bids are being sought are the most cost effective means for meeting their educational needs and technology plan goals. Therefore, [the FCC] modif[ies] section 54.504(b)(2) to add a new certification, section 54.504(b)(2)(vii), which states the following: "All bids submitted will be carefully considered and the bid selected will be for the most cost-effective service or equipment offering, with price being the primary factor, and will be the most cost-effective means of meeting educational needs and technology plan goals." (para. 67)
Certifications - Form 471. [The FCC] amend[s] section 54.504(c) of the [FCC's] rules by adding a new subsection (1) which will state that the FCC Form 471 shall be signed by the person authorized to order telecommunications and other supported services for the eligible school, library, or consortium and shall include that person's certification that the entity(ies) is/are eligible to receive support and has/have secured access to all of the resources necessary to make effective use of the service purchased; the entity(ies) is/are covered by technology plans that have been or will be approved by a state or other authorized body; the entity(ies) has/have complied with program rules as well as all state and local laws regarding procurement of services; the services will be used solely for educational purposes and will not be sold, resold, or transferred; the applicant understands that the discount level used for shared services is conditional; and the applicant recognizes that its application may be audited. (para. 68)
... [The FCC] will require applicants to certify on the Form 471 that the selection of services and service providers is based on the most cost effective means of meeting educational needs and technology plan goals. Therefore, [the FCC] modif[ies] section 54.504(c)(1) to add a new certification, section 54.504(c)(1)(xi), which states the following: "All bids submitted were carefully considered and the most cost-effective bid for services or equipment was selected, with price being the primary factor considered, and is the most cost-effective means of meeting educational needs and technology plan goals." (para. 69)
Certifications - Form 473. Service providers receiving funds through the E-rate program accordingly now must make the following certifications with respect to their participation in the competitive bidding process of the E-rate program in the Service Provider Annual Certification Form, FCC Form 473:
|1.||I certify that the prices in any offer that this service provider makes pursuant to the schools and libraries universal service support program have been arrived at independently, without, for the purpose of restricting competition, any consultation, communication, or agreement with any other offeror or competitor relating to (i) those prices, (ii) the intention to submit an offer, or (iii) the methods or factors used to calculate the prices offered;|
|2.||I certify that the prices in any offer that this service provider makes pursuant to the schools and libraries universal service support program will not be knowingly disclosed by this service provider, directly or indirectly, to any other offeror or competitor before bid opening (in the case of a sealed bid solicitation) or contract award (in the case of a negotiated solicitation) unless otherwise required by law; and|
|3.||I certify that no attempt will be made by this service provider to induce any other concern to submit or not to submit an offer for the purpose of restricting competition. (para.71)|
Resolving audit findings. As modified above, USAC shall continue to recover funds whenever it discovers a statutory or rule violation, as described above. The standard for determining such a violation is the same standard that [the FCC] use[s] in [FCC] enforcement actions: specifically, whether a party has willfully or repeatedly failed to comply with any provision of the Act or any rule, regulation, or order issued by the [FCC], based on a preponderance of the evidence. (para. 73)
. [The FCC] direct[s] USAC to submit, no later than 45 days from the publication in the Federal Register, a proposed plan for resolving audit findings. USAC's audit resolution plan should detail USAC's proposed procedures for resolving all findings arising from audits conducted by USAC's internal audit department, independent public accounting firms under contract with USAC, or government audit organizations. In addition, USAC's audit resolution plan should specify deadlines to ensure audit findings are resolved in a timely manner. (para. 74)
[The FCC has] set forth . a general framework for what amounts should be recovered in specific situations, and [the FCC] expect[s] future audits to be resolved consistent with that framework. To the extent audits in the future raise issues not addressed herein, [the FCC] provide[s] a limited delegation to the Wireline Competition Bureau to address such matters. (para. 75)
USAC shall maintain records of the status of all audit reports and any recommendations made therein, and make such records available to the [FCC] upon request. USAC also shall submit a report to the [FCC] on a semi-annual basis summarizing the status of all outstanding audit findings. To the extent findings cannot be resolved within six months, USAC shall describe the status of its efforts, and provide a projected timeframe for completion. . USAC's determination concerning the resolution of audit findings does not limit the Enforcement Bureau's ability to take enforcement action for any statutory or rule violation pursuant to section 503 of the Act. (para. 77)
. [A] number of audit reports have contained findings that indicate noncompliance with USAC administrative procedures. Consistent with its obligation to administer this support mechanism without waste, fraud and abuse, [the FCC] expect[s] USAC to identify for [FCC] consideration on at least an annual basis all findings raising management concerns that are not addressed by the [FCC's] existing rules and precedent, and, as appropriate, identify any USAC administrative procedures that should be codified in [FCC] rules to facilitate program oversight. (para. 78)
[The FCC] direct[s] USAC to submit to the [FCC] within 45 days from publication
in the Federal Register, and annually thereafter, a list summarizing all current
USAC administrative procedures identifying, where appropriate, the specific
rules or statutory requirements that such procedures further, and those procedures
that serve to protect against waste, fraud and abuse. [The FCC] shall
review those procedures to determine whether action is needed to ensure appropriate
recovery, and shall determine whether such procedures should be adopted as
binding rules. Thereafter, USAC and the [FCC] will generally seek recovery
of funds disbursed in violation of the statute or a rule that implements the
statute or substantive program goal or that serves to protect against waste,
fraud and abuse. USAC and the [FCC] will not seek recovery of funds disbursed
in violation of other rules, except to the extent that such rules are important
to ensuring the financial integrity of the program, as designated by the agency.
Service Providers and Consultants for Service Providers will be able to attend via WebEx the annual SLD TTT Workshop that will be held on September 27-29, 2004. Registration will be available after 3:00p.m. on September 13, 2004 at universalservice.webex.com. Registration will be limited to 98 participants and SLD may need to limit the number of participants per company based upon interest and number of registrations received. Registration will close after the limit has been reached for each session. WebEx will provide notification via e-mail to those registrants accepted to participate in the TTT workshop. For consultants who represent service providers, please use the following SPIN Number 143000000. Please note that all fields must be properly filled out before SLD can review a request to participate. If you have any questions, please send an e-mail to sldwebextraining.
USAC has been directed by the FCC to move to government accounting standards by October 1, 2004, and this has raised potential budget authority issues that may impact USAC. As a result, SLD has not issued FCDLs for any Funding Year since August 3, 2004, and will be temporarily suspending further issuance of such letters. USAC is working with the FCC to resolve these issues and, once that happens, SLD will resume issuing commitment letters. In the meantime, SLD is continuing to review applications so that, when the matter is resolved, we will be in a position to issue FCDLs. USAC expects the issue to be resolved in the near future.
On August 13, 2004, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Public Notice (FCC 04-200) establishing the comment period for the Funding Year 2005 Eligible Services List.
Comments on the draft Eligible Services List, which is attached to the Public Notice, are due to the FCC on or before August 23, 2004. Reply comments are due to the FCC on or before August 30, 2004. For information on filing comments with the FCC, please refer to the Public Notice.
This proceeding is limited to determining what specific services are eligible under the FCC’s current rules; it is not intended to be a vehicle for changing any eligibility rules.
Forms 472, 473 and 474 will be undergoing a revision process during the next several months. In order to minimize confusion that might result from changing form versions twice in a short period of time, we are taking down the Form 472 dated February 2004 and the Form 474 dated January 2004.
Until the form revision process is complete, please continue to use the versions of Forms 472, 473 and 474 currently posted on the Forms Page of this web site.
On July 30, 2004, the FCC released its Order on Reconsideration and Fourth Report and Order (FCC 04-181) that addresses several issues related to recovery of funds disbursed in violation of program rules. This order will become effective thirty (30) days after publication in the Federal Register.
Following are direct quotes from the Order addressing these issues:
Direction of recovery actions. …[R]ecovery actions should be directed to the party or parties that committed the rule or statutory violation in question. …[I]n many instances, this will likely be the school or library, rather than the service provider. …This revised recovery approach shall apply on a going forward basis to all matters for which USAC has not yet issued a demand letter as of the effective date of this order, and to all recovery actions currently under appeal to either USAC or [the FCC]. [The FCC] do[es] not intend to modify any recovery action in which the service provider has satisfied the outstanding obligation or for which USAC has already issued an initial demand letter. (para. 10)
[The FCC] direct[s] USAC to make the determination … to whom recovery should be directed in individual cases. In determining to which party recovery should be directed, USAC shall consider which party was in a better position to prevent the statutory or rule violation, and which party committed the act or omission that forms the basis for the statutory or rule violation. For instance, the school or library is likely to be the entity that commits an act or omission that violates [the FCC’s] competitive bidding requirements, [the FCC’s] requirement to have necessary resources to make use of the supported services, the obligation to calculate properly the discount rate, and the obligation to pay the appropriate nondiscounted share. On the other hand, the service provider is likely to be the entity that fails to deliver supported services within the relevant funding year, fails to properly bill for supported services, or delivers services that were not approved for funding under the governing FCC Form 471. [The FCC] recognize[s] that in some instances, both the beneficiary and the service provider may share responsibility for a statutory or rule violation. In such situations, USAC may initiate recovery action against both parties, and shall pursue such claims until the amount is satisfied by one of the parties. Pursuant to section 54.719(c) of the [FCC]’s rules, any person aggrieved by the action taken by a division of the Administrator may seek review from the [FCC]. (para.15)
Enforcement action. Any recipient of the demand letter is obligated to repay the recovery amount by the deadlines described in the Commitment Adjustment Implementation Order [(FCC 00-350, released October 26, 2000)]. Failure to do so may subject such recipients to enforcement action by the [FCC] in addition to any collection action. (para.16)
Good Samaritans. …Good Samaritans should not be subject to recovery actions except in those situations where the Good Samaritan itself has committed the act or omission that violates [the FCC’s] rules or the governing statute. (para.17)
The revised Forms 472 and 474 are now available on the Forms Page of this web site. Form 472 can only be filed on paper; Form 474 can be filed either online or on paper.
The SLD will continue to accept the October 1998 version of Form 472 and the October 2001 version of Form 474 filed on paper through December 31, 2004. However, processing of these earlier forms will be delayed until the certification pages from the current forms have been correctly submitted and successfully data entered. Earlier versions of these forms postmarked after December 31, 2004 will be returned.
The SLD has added an option for Funding Year 2005 for online filing of Forms 470 from the Apply Online area of the web site. This means that applicants can now file a Form 470 for FY2005 online or on paper using the current form without putting additional language in Item 13 identifying the funding year.
Applicants beginning a Form 470 with the online or the interview format should choose the Funding Year 2005 option from the drop-down menu. Applicants filing on paper should use the May 2003 version of the Form 470 and enter the appropriate dates for Funding Year 2005 in Block 1, Item 2.
There will be a revised Form 470 to use for FY2005, but that form is currently in development and may not be ready for several months. A notice will be posted to this web site when the new Form 470 is available, until the notice is posted, applicants may use the current form.
Service providers are reminded that they can search for FY2005 Forms 470 using the Search Posted tool in the Apply Online area of the web site. However, some Forms 470 may have been filed under FY2004 using guidance previously posted to this web site. Service providers can search those forms by date posted and review the results to find additional Forms 470 posted for FY2005.
Manufacturers may now submit data for the Eligible Products Database. This pilot program was established pursuant to the FCC’s Second Report and Order in Docket 02-6 (FCC 03-101, released on April 30, 2003).
The pilot database is intended to assist applicants in their selection of Internal Connections products, and will be available for general use beginning in the fall of 2004. Data submission by manufacturers, and SLD review of this information, will take place over the summer months.
The pilot program is open to national manufacturers who have completed an enrollment process. Follow this link to enroll as a national manufacturer or to access the data submission functions.
You may also follow this link for more information on the Eligible Products Database pilot program. (This information is also available by following the link for “Eligible Products Database Pilot” under the topic heading “Service Providers” on the left-hand side of this web page.)
In general, applicants should not file FCC Form 470 (hereinafter "Form 470") for a funding year until the SLD posts a notice on this web site that the appropriate form is available. At that time, the paper form will be available for downloading from the Applicant Forms area, and the online drop-down menu option for that funding year will be available on the online Form 470 in the Apply Online area.
However, some applicants may have very long procurement cycles or other reasons for filing a Form 470 for Funding Year (FY) 2005 before this online option is available. We would expect this would usually be the case only where new contracts or contract extensions must be signed, not in cases where non-contracted tariffed or month-to-month services are being sought.
Applicants in this situation may file the current Form 470 either online or on paper by following the instructions for the form, together with the additional guidance below. However, please note that because the Form 470 for FY2005 may be different from the current Form 470, these applicants may be required to file a supplemental form to complete the information required by the FY2005 Form 470. The supplemental filing, if required, will not require the competitive bidding process initiated by the original Form 470 to be re-opened.
A notice will be posted to this web site when the FY2005 Form 470 is available. The guidance below should NOT be used once this notice has been posted.
A separate notice will be posted to this web site when the supplemental form, if necessary, is available. If the supplemental form becomes necessary and is not filed by the deadline that would be set, funding requests that rely on that Form 470 will not be funded.
Guidance for applicants filing on paper:
Guidance for applicants filing online:
For applicants who filed a current Form 470 before this guidance was posted and who are seeking new services or seeking to extend existing contracts, please note the following:
Service providers, please note this guidance and be alert for these Forms 470 if you wish to pursue these business opportunities. You are reminded that you can limit your search to Forms 470 posted on or after a specific date in the Form 470 - Search Posted area of this web site.
Following is a list of the documents or pages that have changed on this web site since the last posting on updates:
A new topic area called "Training and Outreach" has been created in the left-hand column of the SLD web pages. A new document titled WebEx Recordings now has a link under this topic area. This document provides information on recorded training sessions available to applicants and service providers.
The document Contract Guidance has been updated to include information for applicants if (1) the state files a Form 470 or (2) the applicant files a Form 470 and considers a state master contract as one of the bids.
The document Service Substitutions has been updated to reflect the guidance from the FCC that the SLD can now approve service substitutions if the substituted service costs more than the original service. (If the requested substitution involves an increase in pre-discount cost of an eligible item, the request will be funded at the amount originally approved.)
The document Contact Us has been updated to remove extraneous information.
The link to the Waste, Fraud and Abuse Task Force has been moved from the Quick Links area to the Reference Area. An additional link to Submit a Question has been posted to the new "Training and Outreach" area.
Manufacturers can now enroll in SLD's Eligible Products Database pilot program. Manufacturers who have completed the enrollment process will soon be able to start uploading data to the pilot program. We expect this upload function to be available no later than July 1, 2004.
Follow this link to access the enrollment form
You may follow this link for more information on the Eligible Products Database pilot program, or follow the new link under the topic heading "Service Providers" on the left-hand side of this web page.
For any contract mentioned on a Funding Year (FY) 2004 application and funding request or pending FY 2003 application and funding request, where the contract includes maintenance that is more than "basic" in nature, the FCC permits applicants 90 days from the effective date of the Third Report and Order [FCC 03-323; effective 03-11-04] - in other words, until June 9, 2004 - to take one of two actions:
|1.||Renegotiation: to renegotiate those contracts to exclude all costs for maintenance services that are more than "basic" or|
|2.||Cost Allocation: to provide SLD with an itemized breakout of the components of the contract, clearly identifying the portion of the contract price to be allocated to basic maintenance.|
Definition of Basic Maintenance
Basic maintenance services are "necessary" if, but for the maintenance at issue, the connection would not function and serve its intended purpose with the degree of reliability ordinarily provided in the marketplace to entities receiving such services without E-rate discounts. Basic maintenance services do not include services that maintain equipment that is not supported or that enhance the utility of equipment beyond the transport of information, or diagnostic services in excess of those necessary to maintain the equipment's ability to transport information. (Third Report and Order, para. 23)
If the applicant and the service provider renegotiate a contract, the resulting contract changes should be consistent with the original Form 470 posting. For applicants who prefer to follow the cost allocation approach, this approach is available for signed contracts in existence on March 11, 2004 (the effective date of the Third Report and Order). The burden is on the applicant to justify what portion of the contract price should be allocated to basic maintenance.
Applicants affected by this guidance should, as appropriate:
|1.||provide immediate notice to SLD that they are renegotiating a contract and, after renegotiating the contract, provide certain relevant information to SLD; or|
|2.||provide a cost allocation of existing maintenance contract(s) clearly breaking out the components and costs of the contract(s) that constitute basic maintenance.|
SLD will not apply the 30% rule, whereby a funding request is denied if 30% or more of the costs are ineligible, to existing contracts based on ineligible non-basic maintenance services prior to contract renegotiation and cost allocation. If SLD determines that the renegotiated contract or cost allocation is appropriate SLD will approve the funding requests at the appropriate pre-discount amount. After contract renegotiation and cost allocation, SLD will apply the 30% rule consistent with normal practice.
A. Applicants should provide immediate notice to SLD that they are renegotiating a contract.
The notice to SLD should provide the following information:
|1.||"Contract Renegotiation Intent" at the top of the first page|
|2.||Entity number and name of the Block 1 entity|
|3.||Application number (s) and funding request numbers (FRNs) of all FRNs that are subject to the renegotiated contract|
|4.||The original contract #, service start date and contract expiration date|
|5.||Statement that the applicant will be renegotiating the above contract(s)|
|6.||Signature, printed name and official title of either the contact person or the authorized signer on the Form 471. If the signatory here is different than the signer of the Form 471 and the authorized contact person on the Form(s) 471, please explain the change.|
B. After renegotiating the contract, the applicant should provide a report on the renegotiated contract.
The report to SLD should provide the following information:
|1.||"Contract Renegotiation Confirmation" at the top of the first page|
|2.||Entity number and name of the Block 1 entity|
|3.||Application number(s) and all FRNs that are subject to the renegotiated contract|
|4.||The original contract #, service start date and contract expiration date|
|5.||A statement by the authorized contact person on the Form 471, or the authorized signer on the original Form 471 saying that this contract (contract #) replaces the original contract between this entity name and the service provider name and service provider identification number (SPIN) for maintenance services listed on application # (s) __, FRN #s ___, ___, ___|
|6.||The new contract information as follows:
|7.||The new contract, which must detail the maintenance that will be performed, and|
|8.||Signature, printed name and official title of either the contact person or the authorized signer on the Form 471. If the signatory here is different than the signer of the Form 471 and the authorized contact person on the Form(s) 471, please explain the change.|
Cost Allocation of Existing Contracts
In lieu of renegotiating contracts that include maintenance other than basic maintenance, applicants may submit an allocation of costs under the existing contract for basic maintenance and other than basic maintenance. Such applicants should submit to SLD a report with the following information:
|1.||"Maintenance Contract Cost Allocation" at the top of the first page|
|2.||Entity number and name of the Block 1 entity|
|3.||Application number (s) and all FRNs that are subject to the cost allocation|
|4.||The original contract #, service start date and contract expiration date|
|5.||An allocation of the costs of the contract between basic maintenance and maintenance that is other than basic|
|6.||Signature, printed name and official title of either the contact person or the authorized signer on the Form 471. If the signatory here is different than the signer of the Form 471 and the authorized contact person on the Form(s) 471, please explain the change.|
Alerting SLD to Contract Renegotiations/Cost Allocations
Applicants who plan to renegotiate and who have already been contacted by a PIA Reviewer may alert the reviewer to the contract renegotiation or to the intention to submit a cost allocation of the contract. Be sure to include all the information noted above.
Contract Renegotiation or Cost Allocation Notices may also be submitted by e-mail, fax or on paper as follows:
|By e-mail:||Send an e-mail|
|By mail or courier:||Contract Renegotiation/Cost Allocation - 3rd Order
Schools and Libraries Division
Box 125 - Correspondence Unit
80 South Jefferson Road
Whippany, NJ 07981
USAC has recently issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking a vendor to help USAC in its expanded outreach efforts to recipients of E-rate discounted services. A central component of the expanded outreach will be site visits, which will:
We expect these site visits to start in late summer. As the vendor provides reports on its visits, USAC will review the information gathered and prepare and post a "Best Practices" document based on that information. USAC will also take this information into account when designing future outreach and education efforts, and explore administrative changes to make the application process run more smoothly.
Vendors interested in responding to this RFP may contact USAC through e-mail.
Interested vendors should include their contact information and pertinent
their companies in the e-mail message.
Pursuant to the FCC’s Second Report and Order (FCC 03-101, released on April 30, 2003), the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) is instituting a pilot program to create a database of products eligible for funding as Internal Connections. Manufacturers will be able to post their eligible products to the database to assist E-rate applicants in their selection of Internal Connections products.
Manufacturers who wish to have their E-rate eligible products included in the database must meet two basic requirements:
The SLD is providing early notice of this pilot program so that interested manufacturers who do not already have a SPIN can complete the short process necessary to obtain one.
Additional information about this pilot program will be posted to this web site as it becomes available.
Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN)
Service providers participating in one or more of the support mechanisms of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) are required to have a Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN).
Manufacturers participating in the SLD’s pilot program to create a database of eligible products must also have a SPIN. If you are a manufacturer who wishes to enroll in this program, and you either do not have a SPIN or the information associated with your SPIN is not current, you must complete FCC Form 498. If you are not sure whether your organization has a SPIN, you may use the SPIN Search Tool to search the SLD SPIN database.
The primary purpose of Form 498 is to collect contact, remittance and payment information for service providers that receive support from the federal universal service support mechanisms. Manufacturers who are requesting a SPIN only for participation in the pilot program do not need to provide any bank remittance information to USAC. Therefore, they may omit lines 102-105 in Block 10 concerning bank remittance information.
Follow this link to the SLD Forms area to access a copy of Form 498 and Instructions.
Manufacturer Enrollment in the Pilot Program for Creating a Database of Eligible Products
Enrollment in the SLD’s pilot program for creating a database of eligible products is based on the Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) of the manufacturer and the contact information associated with that SPIN. To determine if you have a SPIN or to view the contact information for your company in the SLD database, follow this link to access the SPIN Search Tool.
The manufacturer enrollment process will require specific information for the company name, SPIN, contact person name, and Federal Employer Identification Number; that information must match the information provided in the most recent FCC Form 498 filing. The SLD will then confirm submission with either the general or SLD contact listed in our Form 498 database. This approach is used to ensure the integrity of the enrollment process.
The SLD is providing early notice of this pilot program so that interested manufacturers who do not already have a SPIN can complete the short process necessary to obtain one. The actual enrollment form for the pilot program will be available in the near future.
Following is a list of the documents or pages that have changed on this web site since the last posting on updates:
A new document titled Contract Guidance collects information and guidance on contract issues from various web site documents into one location.
A new document on Transfer of Equipment summarizes the guidance on equipment transfers from the FCC's Third Report and Order that became effective on March 11, 2004.
A new document on Internal Connections: "Two out of Five Years" Rule summarizes the guidance from the FCC's Third Report and Order on requesting discounts for Internal Connections beginning in FY2005.
Question 7 from Technology Planning - Frequently Asked Questions and Section IV from Technology Planning have been updated to clarify that the Technology Plan, if required, must be approved by an SLD-certified Technology Plan Approver by the filing of the Form 486 or the start of services, whichever is earlier.
On April 7, 2004, the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) reported to the Federal Communications Commission that $4.278 billion in requested funding has been estimated for schools and libraries seeking E-rate discounts for Funding Year 2004. This estimate is based on the dollars requested in 39,785 applications received or postmarked by February 4, 2004, the close of the Form 471 application filing window.
There are several factors that will reduce ultimately the funds requested from the estimated level. First, while efforts have been made to eliminate duplicate requests, inevitably we will discover more duplication as we process these applications. Second, the SLD's efforts to assure that applications are substantially complete and that funds are committed only for eligible services, for use by eligible entities with the appropriate discount rate, and are otherwise consistent with program rules, will further reduce the demand.
For detailed information, please refer to the FY2004 Demand Estimate Letter to FCC [PDF, 72kb] and the FY2004 Demand Estimate Breakdown [PDF, 15kb].
Libraries that were not in compliance or that did not undertake actions to comply with the filtering provision of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) by the start of FY2003 may still receive discounts on Internet Access and Internal Connections commitments for services received from July 1, 2003 through August 14, 2003. (August 14 is the effective date of the FCC order FCC 03-188 implementing the Supreme Court’s decision on the applicability of CIPA’s requirements to libraries.) To request these discounts, libraries must file Form 486T together with a BEAR Form.
Although libraries requesting this reimbursement need not have been in compliance with the filtering provision of CIPA as codified at 47 U.S.C. § 254(h) during this 45-day period, they must have been in compliance with the provisions of CIPA as codified at 47 U.S.C. § 254(l) by the start of services in FY2003. Under 47 U.S.C. § 254(l), a library receiving E-rate discounts for Internet Access and/or Internal Connections is required to have an Internet safety policy that addresses certain issues. There is also a public notice and hearing/meeting requirement.
For more information or to request a copy of Form 486T, please call the SLD Client Service Bureau at 1-888-203-8100.
On Wednesday, March 3, 2004, the SLD will issue letters for Wave 23 of Funding Year 2003 containing nearly $385 million in funding commitments. In past waves for FY2003, funding commitments have been made on approved Internal Connections requests only at the 85% discount level and above. With the unused funds from prior years rolled over into FY2003 as directed by the FCC in the Third Report and Order, the SLD has determined that approved Internal Connections requests for FY2003 can be funded down to the 70% discount level. Beginning with Wave 23, letters will include funding commitments for approved Internal Connections requests at 70% and above.
Applicants who receive funding commitments for non-recurring services in this and subsequent waves will have until September 30, 2005, for delivery and installation of those services.
Following is a list of the documents or pages that have changed on this web site since the last posting on updates:
The document Frequently Asked Questions about Eligibility of Products and Services has been updated and reformatted into separate topic pages for easier use. Fiber Optics has been added as a new topic page; it includes two questions on dark fiber. In the future, questions and answers will be added to the bottom of each topic page as additional guidance becomes available.
The Sample Form 486 Notification Letter and the Sample Receipt Acknowledgment Letter have been replaced with the updated versions currently in use.
On December 23, 2003, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its Third Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) in Docket No. 02-6, FCC 03-323. The Third Report and Order addresses several matters related to the administration of the Schools and Libraries Support Mechanism. A summary of the Third Report and Order can be found in the posting FCC Releases Third Report and Order in the December 2003 archive on this web site.
The Third Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published in the Federal Register, Vol. 69, No. 27 for Tuesday, February 10, 2004. The Third Report and Order can be found on pages 6181–6192. The Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking can be found on pages 6229–6238.
The effective date of the Third Report and Order is March 11, 2004, except for § 54.513(c), Resale and Transfer of Services, which contains information collection requirements that have not been approved by the Office of Management and Budget. The FCC will publish a document in the Federal Register announcing the effective date of that paragraph.
Comments on the FNPRM are due on or before March 11, 2004. Reply comments are due on or before April 12, 2004. For information on filing comments, please refer to III. Procedural Issues, C. Comment Filing Procedures on pages 6237–6238 in the notice.
In order to assist applicants as we near the end of the Form 471 application filing window, the Client Service Bureau (CSB) will be open on Saturday, January 31 and Sunday, February 1 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST.
CSB will be open on the final day of the Form 471 application filing window, Wednesday, February 4 from 8:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. EST. However, applicants are cautioned not to wait until the last few hours of the application window to file and certify Form 471. Applicants who wait until the last minute may not have all the necessary information to complete their Form 471 within the window, and their funding may be jeopardized.
You can reach the CSB by calling 1-888-203-8100.
The following materials associated with Funding Year 2004 Forms 471 must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on February 4, 2004 or postmarked on or before February 4, 2004 in order for the request to receive consideration as inside the window. These materials are:
If you are still filing your Form 471, and are filing online, you must have a Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) for each Funding Request in order to progress through Block 5 of the online form. Filers who do not have a SPIN will receive a message as they attempt to complete the form directing them to call the Client Service Bureau (CSB) for assistance.
Please note that SPIN assistance is available for those online filers who have completed the competitive bidding process and selected their service providers, but whose service providers' SPIN assignment has not yet been completed. (Manual filers are able to provide either the service provider name or the SPIN in order to meeting Minimum Processing Standards.) The Item 21 attachment should clearly indicate the name of the service provider. Call the CSB toll-free at 1-888-203-8100, and representatives will provide you this assistance. Remember that the CSB hours of service are 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST.
The toll-free fax number at the Client Service Bureau returned to service today, Friday, January 23, at 11:30 P.M. EST.
If you attempted to send a fax to the Client Service Bureau after 8:30 PM Wednesday but before service was restored, your fax was not successfully received. Please re-send your fax at this time.
Thank you for your cooperation.
The toll-free fax number at the Client Service Bureau went out of service Wednesday, January 21, at 8:30 P.M. EST. Service has not yet been restored. The toll-free telephone number and e-mail access have not been affected by this outage.
If you attempted to send a fax to the Client Service Bureau after 8:30 PM Wednesday, your fax was not successfully received. Please wait until we post a notice that service has been restored before attempting to re-send your fax.
Thank you for your cooperation.
If the deadline for delivery and/or installation of your non-recurring services was September 30, 2003 (regardless of Funding Year), the deadline for postmark or receipt of invoices for those services is generally January 28, 2004. This applies to non-recurring services for Funding Request Numbers (FRNs) with a September 30, 2003 delivery deadline and for which a Form 486 has been certified. Applicants filing Form 472 (BEAR Form) must allow sufficient time for their service providers to complete and return the Block 4 certification before submitting their BEAR Forms.
Remember that if your Form 486 Notification Letter was dated after September 30, 2003, the invoice deadline is the date 120 days after the date of the Form 486 Notification Letter, which would be later than January 28.
If your non-recurring services were or will be delivered after the Contract Expiration Date reported on your Form 471, you must file a Form 500 to modify that Contract Expiration Date. Please note that you must be able to extend your contract under state contract law. The SLD cannot pay invoices for products and services delivered after the Contract Expiration Date on file with the SLD.
If you have not yet filed a Form 486 for your non-recurring services, please do so as soon as possible. If the Actual Service Start Date you will report on the Form 486 is after the Contract Expiration Date reported on your Form 471, you must file a Form 500 to extend that date BEFORE the SLD will be able to process your Form 486. The SLD cannot pay invoices on FRNs for which a Form 486 is not on file with the SLD. Remember that you are not required to complete a certification for Form 486 Block 4 Item 11 for FRNs from funding years prior to Funding Year 2001.
To determine the service delivery and invoicing deadlines for an FRN, please refer to the FRN Extension Table posted in the Apply Online area of this web site.
To determine whether the SLD has a Form 486 on file for an FRN, please refer
to the Funding Request Data Retrieval Tool posted in the Data
of this web site. If there is a date entered in the "Service_Start_Date_486" field
(Service Start Date as Shown on the Form 486) for an FRN, the SLD has a Form
486 on file for that FRN.
The SLD has scheduled an online training session on contracts for this Friday, January 16, using WebEx. Although this training is offered as part of the FY2004 service provider training, applicants are welcome to attend.
The first 68 service providers and applicants who sign up for the training will be accepted, and will receive a notice of acceptance by e-mail on Friday morning. To sign up, please go to the WebEx site. You can follow the registration instructions for an online session by selecting the “Registration” link.
Based upon demand, additional sessions on contracts will be provided at a later date.
The FCC and the SLD have already issued notices of changes and clarifications that are applicable to Funding Year 2004. This posting serves to highlight these for you to help you take full advantage of E-rate support in the upcoming funding year and avoid denial of funding requests on Forms 471 for Funding Year 2004. Applicants and service providers can find additional information on this web site. You may also contact the SLD Client Service Bureau by using the Submit a Question link on this web site, by faxing toll-free at 1-888-276-8736 or by calling toll-free at 1-888-203-8100.
The SLD has posted two new documents to the Reference Area.
The document Educational Purposes replaces the document “Administrative Offices and Buildings Fact Sheet.” It contains additional guidance on the FCC’s expanded definition of “educational purposes” and provides specific examples of activities at non-instructional facilities that are eligible for E-rate discounts beginning with Funding Year 2004.
Because of this change in the definition of “educational purposes,” the SLD will collect certain additional information about services delivered to eligible non-instructional facilities. The document Entity Numbers for Non-instructional Facilities provides guidance for applicants to indicate their non-instructional facilities on FY2004 Forms 471 and Item 21 Attachments, and how to revise Item 21 Attachments that have already been filed. (Forms 471 that have already been submitted do not need to be revised.)
Funding requests will not be denied solely because non-instructional facilities were not listed on FY2004 Forms 471 and Item 21 Attachments. PIA will work with applicants during the review process to be sure that their non-instructional facilities are properly documented.