June 6, 2014

TIP OF THE WEEK: If you have not yet certified an FCC Form 470 cited on an FCC Form 471 Block 5 funding request for FY2014, do so online or on paper as soon as possible. Once your PIA reviewer notifies you that a cited FCC Form 470 is not certified, you will have 15 days to certify it or risk denial of that funding request.

Commitments for Funding Years 2014 and 2013

Funding Year 2014. USAC will release Funding Year (FY) 2014 Wave 5 Funding Commitment Decision Letters (FCDLs) on June 11. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 1 (Telecommunications Services and Internet Access) requests at all discount levels. As of June 6, FY2014 commitments total over $868 million.

Funding Year 2013. USAC will release FY2013 Wave 54 FCDLs on June 12. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 1 requests at all discount levels. As of June 6, FY2013 commitments total over $2.07 billion.

On the day the FCDLs are mailed, you can check to see if you have a commitment by using USAC's Automated Search of Commitments tool.

Reminder on Requests for Service Delivery Extensions

If service providers need more time to deliver and install non-recurring services, a request for an extension must be submitted on or before the last day to deliver and install those services – generally, on or before the September 30 following the close of the funding year.

Service providers can no longer make these requests. Applicants must request service delivery extensions by filing an FCC Form 500. Applicants can find the service delivery extension request in Item 8 on the form.

Service providers who know that they will need more time to deliver and install these services should work with their customers to make sure the FCC Form 500 is filed in a timely manner. Requests for service delivery extensions submitted to USAC by email, fax or letter will not be processed.

Certain FCC Forms 471 Moved to In-window Status

A number of FY2014 FCC Forms 471 were timely submitted online (i.e., the Submit button was pushed on or before 11:59 pm EDT on March 26, 2014) but not certified by the close of the filing window. USAC sent letters to the affected applicants notifying them that they must certify those forms – either online or on paper – on or before May 27, 2014 for the forms to be considered in-window.

For FY2014, USAC is changing the status of forms certified by the extended deadline in two phases. This will allow most of these applications to enter the PIA review process earlier than in previous years.

The first phase has already occurred. Approximately 950 applications were moved in-window June 2; Receipt Acknowledgment Letters (RALs) for those applications will be issued June 10.

The applications that were moved in-window include:

  • Applications timely filed online and certified online on or before May 27.
  • Applications timely filed online with a paper certification postmarked on or before May 27 received and successfully processed by USAC on or before May 29.

The second phase includes about 100 paper certifications that are still in process. These may be duplicates (paper printouts of certification pages for forms already certified online), certifications postmarked on or shortly before May 27, or certifications that require corrections. After we have completed the processing of these remaining paper certifications, we will move their associated applications in-window as appropriate. We will also include a note in that week's SL News Brief when that processing has been completed.

What Should Applicants Be Doing This Summer?

Both applicants and service providers can, with a few simple steps, make sure applications continue to be reviewed, invoices continue to be paid, and documents continue to be processed during the summer months. Here are a few tips on how you can help speed these forms and requests along:

1. Monitor the contact information you provided on program forms and requests.

Applicants and service providers provide contact information on each program form and also on each program request, e.g., for a Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) change, service substitution, or invoice deadline extension. USAC uses this information to contact the person that submitted the form or request if any questions arise during processing and/or review.

Please monitor the preferred mode of contact you indicated on your forms and requests in case USAC has any questions.

2. Respond to any Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) review questions.

PIA continues to review applications during the summer. If you do not respond to a request for information by the deadline on the PIA request, PIA will review your application with the information you provided, which may lead to a reduction or denial of funding.

If you provided an entry in Item 6f of your FCC Form 471 (holiday/vacation/summer contact information), we will use that information to contact you with any questions during our review of your application if you are unavailable. You can update that information if it is incorrect by following the instructions in your Receipt Acknowledgment Letter (RAL).

  • If the status of your FCC Form 471 in the View 471 Status tool is "Awaiting Applicant Documentation," you should contact your reviewer as soon as possible to find out what information PIA has requested from you. If you don't have your reviewer's name or contact information, you can Submit a Question or call the Client Service Bureau (CSB) at 1-888-203-8100.

NOTE: The summer contact period began May 23 and will end September 5. If we attempt to contact you on or after May 23 and we are unable to make a successful contact, we will put your application on hold and not resume our review until after September 5. However, if you are available to answer the questions we have faxed or emailed to you, we encourage you to respond so that the review of your application can continue. For more information, refer to the May 23 SL News Brief.

3. Respond to any Problem Resolution (paper form processing) questions.

USAC continues to process paper forms during the summer as well. If USAC cannot enter data from your paper form, someone from Problem Resolution will contact you to obtain the information we need to complete the processing of your form.

If it appears that your paper form has not yet been processed, you can ask about the status of your form by contacting CSB.

4. Submit your FCC Form 472, Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) Forms for services already received for FY2013.

Applicants submit a BEAR Form, to request reimbursement of the discount amount from USAC after paying for services in full. Although some applicants wait until the end of the funding year and then submit one BEAR Form for the entire year, you can submit BEAR Forms monthly, quarterly, or at other intervals as long as you don't file duplicate requests for services received during the same period.

If you submit a BEAR Form now, make sure someone is in the office to either deposit the reimbursement check from your service provider or to work with the service provider to give you a credit on your bill. Remember that you can submit BEAR Forms both online and on paper.

If you are leaving for the summer and you have not yet submitted a BEAR Form, we encourage you to gather your customer bills (the bills from your service provider) in one place before you leave. This will make it easier for you to complete the invoicing process when you return.

5. Review your Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) status.

We have a few reminders for applicants reviewing their status under the CIPA in advance of the FY2014 start of services.

When schools certify their compliance with CIPA, they will also be certifying that their Internet safety policies have been updated to provide for educating minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms, cyberbullying awareness, and response. For more information on this requirement, you can refer to the FCC's Report and Order FCC 11-125, released August 11, 2011.

Your First Funding Year for purposes of CIPA is the first funding year (starting with FY2001) in which an FCC Form 486 was successfully processed for a funding commitment for Internet Access, Internal Connections, or Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections. For more information on First, Second, and Third Funding Years and other aspects of CIPA, refer to the CIPA guidance document on the USAC website.

  • If FY2014 is your First Funding Year for purposes of CIPA, you must be undertaking actions to be in compliance with CIPA for FY2015.
  • If FY2014 is your Second Funding Year for purposes of CIPA and state or local procurement rules or regulations or competitive bidding requirements prevent the making of the CIPA certification, review the CIPA guidance document for specific information on requesting a waiver.
  • If you have already reported on an FCC Form 486 in a previous funding year that you are in compliance with CIPA, review your Internet safety policy and verify that you are following it. Pay special attention to the technology protection measure (filter) referenced in your policy, as you should retain documentation showing that it is in place – for example, with service provider bills noting filtered access or monthly logs of blocked sites.
  • If your First Funding Year for purposes of CIPA occurred in the past and you have not applied for discounts in the interim but did so for FY2014, note that you cannot restart the process of CIPA compliance. (In other words, you cannot have a First Funding Year for a second time.)
  • Note that CIPA does not apply to telecommunications services, telecommunications, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, or fiber services requested in the Internet Access category for telecommunications transmission purposes.
  • If you are a member of a consortium and CIPA applies to you, your consortium leader cannot file an FCC Form 486 until you have completed an FCC Form 479 with the appropriate CIPA certification and returned that form to your consortium leader.

6. Label and store program-related documents.

FCC rules require you to retain documentation related to the application process and the receipt and delivery of discounted services for five years after the last date to receive service.

Some examples of documents that you should file now – before they are lost or misplaced – include:

  • A copy of your Request for Proposal (RFP) if one was issued
  • Correspondence with service providers, such as answers to questions posed by bidders during the time the competitive bidding process was open
  • Winning and losing bids
  • Bid evaluation matrices
  • Other documentation related to the competitive bidding process.

Filing these documents now will ensure that they are available later in the event they are needed.

7. Make sure the technology plan that covers FY2014 services has been approved.

FCC rules require that Priority 2 services be covered by an approved technology plan. Because July 1, 2014 is the first day applicants can receive discounted services for FY2014, technology plans that cover services for FY2014 should have already been approved by a USAC-certified Technology Plan Approver (TPA).

  • If your current technology plan expires before July 1, 2014 and you don't know if your new plan has been approved, check with your TPA.
  • If your plan has been approved, be sure to keep a copy of the technology plan approval letter or other evidence – such as a printout of a TPA webpage listing approved plans – that demonstrates the approval.
  • If your plan has not been approved, move quickly to get it approved before services start for FY2014. USAC cannot pay discounts for Priority 2 services not covered by an approved technology plan.

8. Subscribe to the Schools and Libraries News Brief from a personal email account.

USAC will continue to issue SL News Briefs each Friday during the summer. Along with general program guidance, the News Briefs will include updates that may request or require action before September.

You are welcome to subscribe to the SL News Brief from more than one email account – even if you subscribe from the second account only during the summer months and then unsubscribe when you return in September – by clicking on the "subscribe" link at the bottom of this page. This way you can stay informed if you do not have access to your email account at work during the summer.

We will cover summer activities for service providers in a future SL News Brief.

To subscribe, click here: Subscribe
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