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USAC's Latest News Archive gives you access to all announcements related to the Schools and Libraries Program as they were made throughout the years.
Following is a list of the documents or pages that have changed on this web site during the past week:
The Reference Area document SPIN Change Guidance has been reformatted. This summary document on SPIN changes now links to guidance on Corrective SPIN Changes (changes that result from the correction of data entry errors or from mergers/acquisitions) and Operational SPIN Changes (changes of service providers). Both documents also provide detailed information on deadlines for change requests and instructions for submitting those requests by e-mail, fax, and mail. The documents "SPIN Correction Guidance" and "Service Changes" have been removed, as SPIN corrections are now covered under corrective SPIN changes and service changes are covered under service substitutions. Please note that an operational SPIN change will not be processed before a Funding Commitment is issued for the related Funding Request.
A new document, Priority 1 Components: Timeline for Installation, has been added to the Reference Area. This document discusses the conditions under which E-rate discounts can be provided for Priority 1 infrastructure costs incurred prior to the funding year.
The Wide Area Network (WAN) Fact Sheet has been updated to clarify the entries in the "Examples" section and expand on some of the concepts presented in other sections.
The Cost Allocation Guidelines for Products and Services that Contain Eligible and Ineligible Components has been updated to clarify the concept of ancillary use and to make some minor corrections.
The last paragraph of the What's New posting SLD Providing Clarifications on Certain Issues has been amended to clarify that applicants are encouraged - not required - to first utilize funding from other federal programs when they are seeking to provide for specialized requirements.
Following is a list of the documents or pages that have changed on this web site during the past week:
A new document, Cost Allocation Guidelines for File Servers and Other Components has been posted to the Reference Area. This document provides clarification on how to perform cost allocations for file servers.
A linked title has been added for this new document to the Reference Area alphabetical list and to the Reference Area topical list under the heading "Eligible Services."
The Schools and Libraries Client Service Bureau will be closed on Tuesday, December 24 and Wednesday, December 25, 2002 in observance of the Holiday Season. The Client Service Bureau will resume normal operations on Thursday, December 26, 2002 at 8:00 a.m. EST.
The Schools and Libraries Client Service Bureau will be closed on Wednesday, January 1, 2003 in observance of New Year's Day. The Client Service Bureau will resume normal operations on Thursday, January 2, 2003 at 8:00 a.m. EST.
In response to inquiries received, the SLD is issuing the following clarifications:
Administrative charges by state networks. Some state telecommunications networks ask their recipients of discounted services to pay an additional administrative fee to the state agency. Administrative fees added by third parties, such as state agencies that are not the actual providers of the service, are not eligible for reimbursement under the E-rate program.
"Ancillary" features versus substantial product features that are ineligible. The SLD has received reports that some service providers are bundling substantial ineligible features into product offerings, and providing the mixed-eligibility product or service at a single price. The FCC has been clear that such a mixed-eligibility offering is NOT eligible, if the applicant provides only a single price on the application without further cost allocation. (See for example FCC 97-157, paragraph 462.)
Insubstantial features can be included in a funding request without cost allocating, under a principle called "ancillary use." However, this "ancillary use" provision only applies to features that are of limited capability. Substantial ineligible functionality must be cost allocated. The document Cost Allocation Guidelines for Products and Services that Contain Eligible and Ineligible Components posted in the Reference Area of the SLD web site, provides further information about the requirement to separate the pricing for eligible and ineligible components.
Contractual exclusive access arrangements for Wide Area Network facilities. The FCC has indicated that funding is not to be provided for arrangements that reach "essentially the same result" as the building or purchase of a Wide Area Network by applicants. (See FCC 99-216, paragraph 31.) Therefore, the SLD will not provide discounts on an arrangement that provides exclusive access to Wide Area Network facilities under the contract terms. Service providers must be able to make their facilities available on a shared basis to additional parties in order to provide the cost-effective prices that are integral to the E-rate program.
Sale and lease-back of previously-funded Internal Connections components. The SLD has been asked whether Internal Connections components funded with E-rate discounts in a prior funding year can be sold to a service provider, and then leased back to the applicant.
Applicants must evaluate bids and select the most cost-effective solution for the services and/or functions they request. The pre-discount price must be the highest-weighted factor in their evaluation. Under the sale/lease-back approach, the applicants would be requesting funds for lease payments in addition to the original purchase price. Such a scenario would result in higher total costs than the original purchase, and therefore the SLD's presumption would be that the sale/leaseback does not represent the most cost-effective solution.
Duplicate funding requests in a single funding year. The SLD has previously cautioned applicants not to request funding for the same components twice in a single funding year, once as part of Priority 2 services (Internal Connections) and once as part of Priority 1 services (Telecommunications Services or Internet Access). (See item #8 in Frequently Asked Questions about Eligibility of Products and Services posted in the Reference Area of this web site.) However, SLD has seen instances where applicants have submitted duplicate funding requests.
The SLD does not allow duplicate funding requests in the same funding year. When such a duplication is discovered during the application review process, the applicant is contacted and required to cancel one of the funding requests. If the applicant does not do so, then, the SLD will cancel both funding requests to limit waste of program funds.
Seeking available funding from other federal programs before applying for E-rate. In order to make the most of E-rate funds, when applicants are seeking to provide for specialized requirements, such as service to the handicapped, they are encouraged to first utilize funding from other federal programs that focus on those requirements. As an example, the FCC administers Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS), which offers text-to-speech operators for the telephone conversations of the hearing and speech impaired. (See the FCC Consumer Facts on Telecommunications Relay Services for additional information.)
If partial funding for a product or service has been obtained from the other source, and the product or service is also eligible for E-rate funding, applicants can then seek E-rate discounts for the balance not yet funded. The amount eligible for E-rate discounts is limited to the balance that would be unpaid by the other funding source.
Following is a list of the documents or pages that have changed on this web site during the past week:
Item 21 Attachments for Form 471 has been updated with information on WAN purchase arrangements and a revised example for upfront capital costs.
Chapter 7 of the Service Provider Manual now features invoice deadline calculation information based on 120 days rather than 90 days.
Links to the Reference Area documents "Pitfalls to Avoid in Filing Form 470" and "Tips for Completing Form 470" have been removed. This information was not consistent with the Form 470 as revised for Funding Year 2000 and later funding years. Current information is available in the Form 470 Instructions, Free Services Advisory, Obligation to Pay Non-Discount Portion, and the Form 470 section of the Reminder box at the top of this page.
Links to the Program Description now point to the document "E-Rate Discounts for Schools and Libraries".
In the What's New Notice posted on this web site on December 3, 2002 (below), the SLD indicated that it had "determined that a sizable number of Funding Year 2002 applications associated with a particular service provider are not consistent with Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") regulations governing the Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support Mechanism." This statement should not be interpreted as an indication that the SLD has made a commitment decision regarding applications for which it has not released a funding commitment letter as yet. The SLD is currently reviewing these applications to determine whether they comply with program requirements.
The SLD has contacted a number of schools to alert them to this review for two reasons: 1) to provide them with an opportunity to submit additional information to the SLD to demonstrate that their applications comply with the regulations; and 2) to ensure that they conduct their own careful review of their procedures and make any changes that may be necessary to ensure that their Funding Year 2003 applications would not be at risk of violating these regulations. The SLD urges all applicants and service providers to review the practices outlined in the December 3 What's New Notice and ensure that they are in compliance with program requirements.
For Funding Year 2003, libraries must use a revised method to calculate their E-rate discounts. Because the discount for a library outlet or branch will now come directly from the Discount Matrix, the discount entered for a library outlet or branch must correspond to one of the entries in the Discount Matrix (20%, 25%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80% or 90%). If the discount for a library outlet or branch on a paper Form 471 Block 4 Worksheet is not from the Discount Matrix, the SLD will use the next highest discount percentage from the Discount Matrix to complete data entry of the form.
Applicants should not be concerned if they see a higher discount or a higher funding request in their Receipt Acknowledgment Letters than the discount and request they submitted on their paper forms. SLD's Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) team will contact library applicants to verify the discount to which library applicants are entitled using the revised method, and adjust the discount if necessary.
For more information on the revised method for calculating library discounts, please see pages 16-17 of the Form 471 Instructions. Information is also available from the Client Service Bureau via e-mail, via fax at 1-888-276-8736, or via phone at 1-888-203-8100.
Following is a list of the documents or pages have changed on this web site during the past week:
The Form 471 application filing window deadline has been extended to February 6, 2003. References to the deadline date in the Form 471 Instructions have been updated. References to the deadlines for the Form 470 and Form 471 accessed from the Reminder box phrase "Remember the deadlines for filing the forms." have been updated as well.
The SPECIAL NOTE in the Deadline for Information Requests now defines both the winter AND summer periods during which the SLD will only enforce information request deadlines when a successful two-way contact is made.
Beginning with Funding Year 2003, libraries must determine their urban or rural status in order to apply for discounts. The text in the Rural/Urban Classification document has therefore been changed to refer to both schools AND libraries.
You can now access the new dynamic Entity Search feature from the Reference Area by clicking on Entity Numbers.
The notice posted on December 3 "Warning to Funding Year 2003 Applicants and Service Providers Regarding Application Patterns that Violate FCC Rules" has been revised to be more precise about the requirements with respect to the description of services on the Form 470 and the level of specificity that should be achieved in the technology plan. Changes have been made to the second major bullet and to the first sub-bullet under the third major bullet.
If your Form 486 Notification Letter was issued on or before August 11, 2002, invoices for recurring services for Funding Year 2001 must be postmarked no later than December 9, 2002. (The original October 28 deadline for these invoices was extended to December 8, 2002, as reported in a previous posting. Because December 8 falls on a Sunday, invoices postmarked on December 9 will meet the deadline.) If you are filing Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) Forms 472 for recurring services, remember that those forms must be certified by the service provider before you can submit them to the SLD. You should allow sufficient time for your service provider to process your BEAR Form and return it to you so that it can be postmarked by the deadline.
SLD has determined that a sizable number of Funding Year 2002 applications associated with a particular service provider are not consistent with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations governing the Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support Mechanism. SLD has begun denying these applications.
Application and competitive bidding processes involving some or all of the following patterns and practices are not consistent with FCC rules:
Funding Year 2002 requests for support based on some or all of the practices listed above either have been or will be denied.
Note that the filing window for Funding Year 2003 has been extended from a closing date of January 16, 2003, to a closing date of February 6, 2003.
Questions regarding this notice should be directed to the Client Service Bureau.
In response to concerns from the applicant and service provider communities - and in consultation with the FCC and the USAC Schools and Libraries Committee - the Schools and Libraries Division is extending the deadline for the Funding Year 2003 Form 471 application filing window to Thursday, February 6, 2003 at 11:59 PM EST.
Those who began online Form 471 applications during the first two weeks of the window may have experienced difficulties because of technical issues involved with the migration to a new technology for the form. Although applicants could continue incomplete forms after the original online interface was restored on November 14, the SLD has determined that all applicants should have at least 74 days to complete their application process using the original interface.
The SLD will make every effort to review applications as quickly as possible in order to minimize delays in the issuance of funding commitments. The SLD will begin reviewing applications as soon as they are received, so applicants are strongly encouraged to file Forms 471 at their earliest convenience.
Beginning at 8:00 PM EST tonight, October 31, 2002, the SLD Client Service Bureau (CSB) will provide certain program information via our Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system. This recorded information will be available when you call us at 1-888-203-8100, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Instructions for accessing this information will be outlined at the beginning of your call. The information provided in these recorded messages will also be available in the appropriate area of this web site. You can always reach a customer service representative, during normal business hours. When you call the Client Service Bureau, we recommend that you listen carefully to the options we offer. Your answer may be just one or two buttons away.
The FCC has released a Public Notice (DA 02-2792, released October 23, 2002) announcing a revision in the method libraries use to calculate their discounts under E-rate. This revision is reflected in the revised Form 471 and Instructions (see related posting below).
To review the revised instructions for library discount calculations, please refer to the section on Block 4, Worksheet B in the revised Form 471 Instructions [PDF format, 4.24MB] posted in the SL Forms section of this web site.
The FCC has approved a revised Form 471 to be used for Funding Year 2003 (the Funding Year beginning July 1, 2003). This revised form is designed in a scannable format that facilitates the data entry process. References to Privacy Act language have been removed, as much of the information reported on these forms is now publicly available.
Form 471 should not be filed until the opening of the Form 471 application filing window on November 4, 2002. The online version of this form will not be available until that date. To download a paper copy of the revised form, please refer to the SL Forms section of this web site.
Applicants should take note of two deadlines that are approaching in the month of October.
Invoices for Recurring Services for Funding Year 2001. If your Form 486 Notification Letter was issued on or before June 30, 2002, invoices for recurring services must be postmarked no later than October 28, 2002. If you are filing Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) Forms 472 for recurring services, remember that those forms must be certified by the service provider before you can submit them to the SLD.
You may qualify for an invoice deadline extension, which must be requested by the October 28, 2002 deadline. Further information and the criteria for approving such a request can be found in the Reference Area of this web site under Invoicing Deadlines and Extension Requests.
Forms 486 for Funding Year 2002. If your Service Start Date is July 1, 2002 and your Funding Commitment Decision Letter was issued on or before that date, your Form 486 must be postmarked no later than October 29, 2002 to avoid an adjustment to your Service Start Date and a potential adjustment to your funding commitment.
The SLD has identified all applicants in Category 4 defined in the new guidance on CIPA for libraries that received funding commitments for Funding Year 2001. Libraries and consortia containing libraries in Category 4 received Form 486 Notification Letters featuring adjusted Service Start Dates (SSD). These letters may also have featured reduced Funding Commitment Amounts. These adjustments were the result of the application of the 10/28/2001 penalty for Funding Year 2001.
These adjustments have been revised and can be reviewed in the Revised SSD and Funding Commitment Report [MS Excel format, 38kb]. These applicants will be receiving a REVISED Form 486 Notification Letter in the next several weeks but their SSD(s) and funding commitment amount(s) have been corrected and invoices will be processed based on these corrections.
If you believe that your SSD should have been corrected but your information is missing from the report or incorrect, you should send a letter to notify the SLD. This letter must be postmarked on or before 10/28/2002. State in the letter that the Service Start Date featured on the Form 486 Notification Letter was not revised. Refer to the New Guidance on CIPA Certifications posted in the Reference Area of this web site for complete information on submitting your letter.
The SLD has posted a revised Eligible Services List in the Reference Area of its web site. The Eligible Services List provides applicants and service providers information about the products and services eligible for E-rate discounts, and the conditions under which they are eligible.
In this revised list, entries can be eligible for funding under the conditions described for each entry, unless the designation "Not Eligible" is included. Additions or revisions to the list are highlighted in bold.
The FCC is considering changes in eligibility to certain products and services in a rulemaking proceeding. (See Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order in CC Docket 02-6, released January 25, 2002, FCC 02-8.) Changes to product and service eligibility as a result of FCC decisions will be incorporated through a future revision of the Eligible Services List.
Read the revised Eligible Services List in Adobe Acrobat format.
The SLD has rolled out a new version of its Data Retrieval Tool. The new version includes the following enhancements:
The Data Retrieval Tool Instructions have been updated to reflect the new functionality.
The SLD continues to work with its billing and disbursement vendor on the acquisition of actual disbursement data. (Currently the Data Retrieval Tool shows only the amounts that the SLD has authorized to be disbursed.) Once the SLD has acquired this data and successfully incorporated it into the Data Retrieval Tool, it will post a What's New announcing its availability.
Ellen Wolfhagen, who has been a member of the management team of the Schools and Libraries Division of the Universal Service Administrative Company since April 1999, will leave USAC at the end of October to return to her home state of Washington and assume the job of Program Manager for the statewide K-20 Educational Network.
Ellen served first as SLD's General Counsel, and, on May 1, 2000, became SLD's Director of Service Provider Support. In her first job, Ellen played a key role in helping ensure that SLD's practices were consistent with FCC rules. As that duty was transferred to USAC's General Counsel, Ellen assumed responsibility as SLD's liaison to the service provider community. In that role, she significantly improved the working relationship with one of our key stakeholder groups by holding regular conference calls for service providers to offer program updates, helping service providers understand and comply with program rules and making sure that we considered service provider issues at every step in the process. She has responded to thousands of service provider phone and e-mail inquiries, and conducted annual series of service provider workshops around the country.
In her new position, Ellen will assume the leadership of a statewide initiative she had worked on in its inception. Of her tenure at SLD, Ellen said, "It was a wonderful opportunity to really make a difference in how the program operated. I'm very proud of some of the innovations that I helped bring about such as SPIN changes and corrections and the Form 500."
"Ellen has made a major contribution to the success of the E-rate at tremendous personal sacrifice," said George McDonald, USAC Vice President for the Schools and Libraries Division. "We have been very fortunate to have a person with Ellen's commitment, intelligence, and energy helping guide SLD and our service provider constituents over the past 3-1/2 years. Ellen has built a strong relationship with the service provider community, one that I am committed to maintaining."
"Ellen has not only made great contributions to the Schools and Libraries program, but to Universal Service programs more broadly," said Cheryl Parrino, USAC's CEO. "Ellen has served on interdivisional working groups to help us achieve better integration across programs and worked closely with our billings, collections, and disbursement vendor to ensure that payments flow smoothly to service providers. She will be sorely missed."
Form 486 is now available for filing online in the Apply Online/View Forms area of the web site. This online form can be used for Funding Years 2001 and 2002.
The Form 486 is in a scannable PDF format. Online filers must use Adobe Acrobat 5.0 or higher to successfully complete the form. If you would like to download this free software, you may do so from PDF Help located in the Reference Area of this web site.
Please note the following:
The Form 471 Display Tool has been modified to display the certification date of the Form 471. Previously, the field in the upper right hand corner of the Block 1 display was labeled "Appl. Postmark Date." We have changed this label to "Cert. Postmark Date." If this field contains a date, it means that the SLD has recorded the date that that Form 471 was successfully certified.
The date that appears will be:
The label is hyperlinked to a text box containing the above information.
Note that this date is only visible when you view Block 1. It is not visible when you use the "Display Entire Application" function.
We will be performing routine maintenance on our equipment starting Sunday, October 6 at 12:01 a.m., EDT. During this time, users will be unable to visit the Schools and Libraries area of the web site. We are expecting normal service to be returned October 7 at 5:00 a.m., EDT. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and look forward to serving you.
The SLD has updated its guidance on deadlines for service delivery and invoicing.
We will now accept requests for service delivery deadline extensions and invoice deadline extensions by fax and by e-mail in addition to regular mail. In addition, we will generally accept requests for service delivery deadline extensions up to the last date to receive service for the FRNs affected.
For more information, please refer to Service Delivery Deadlines and Extension Requests and Invoicing Deadlines and Extension Requests.
The SLD has identified and contacted all applicants in Category 1 defined in the new guidance on CIPA for libraries that received funding commitments for Funding Year 2001. Libraries and consortia containing libraries in Category 1 did not check an Item 11 CIPA certification on a Form 486 filed for Funding Year 2001. As stated in this guidance, "Applicants who believe they are in Category 1 but who have not been contacted by the SLD by the time the SLD posts the completion notice should complete and postmark a Form 486 on or before the 10/28/2002 deadline."
For more information, please refer to the New Guidance on CIPA Certifications posted in the Reference Area of this web site.
Yesterday, the Schools and Libraries Committee approved fully funding FY 2002 approved Internal Connections funding requests in the 90% discount band.
The SLD will issue Funding Commitment Decisions Letters (FCDLs) for Wave 13 on Tuesday, October 8, 2002. Applicants with Internal Connections funding requests at 90% who were issued "As Yet Unfunded" designations on previous FCDLs should be issued second FCDLs with decisions on these requests.
Further information on funding requests for Internal Connections below 90% will be posted on this web site as it becomes available.
The Form 471 application filing window for Funding Year 2003 (July 1, 2003 - June 30, 2004) will open at noon EST on Monday, November 4, 2002 and will close on Thursday, January 16, 2003 at 11:59 p.m. EST.
The revised Form 471 for Funding Year 2003 will be available before the opening of the window. Form 471 may be filed online as soon as the window opens on Monday, November 4. Please do not file paper Forms 471 before November 4. Applicants who submit paper Forms 471 that are received before the opening of the window will have their forms returned, and those applicants will have to submit a new Form 471 on or after November 4.
The Funding Year 2003 Form 470 is available now for filing online or on paper. Remember that Form 470 must be filed in time to complete the required 28-day posting period before executing any contracts for contracted services, before selecting their service provider for tariffed or month-to-month services, and before signing and submitting Form 471.
Under the FCC's MasterMind decision (Order FCC 00-167, released May 23, 2000), if service provider contact information appears on a Form 470 or if a service provider's employee signs a Form 470, and if that service provider also provides one of the categories of service requested on that Form 470, that Form 470 is tainted, and ALL funding requests that rely on that Form 470 will be denied. This is true even for those categories of service not provided by the service provider in question.
If a funding request is denied for the reason(s) above, the funding synopsis for that funding request on the Funding Commitment Decision Letter will generally feature the following message:
Associated Form 470 contains service provider (SP) contact information. Competitive bidding violation occurs when SP associated with Form 470 participates in competitive bidding process as a bidder.
This message will also appear in the Commitment Status Decision Explanation field ("Commitment Status TXT FCDL") for Funding Request Numbers (FRNs) which reference a tainted Form 470 in the delimited file returned from a search using the Funding Data Retrieval Tool.
We want to clarify that this does not mean that every service provider featured on an FRN with such a denial reason was involved in the Form 470 process or violated program rules. Rather, it means that the Form 470 cited was invalid, due to the actions of a service provider associated with that Form 470.
The SLD has updated its guidance on service substitutions, SPIN changes and SPIN corrections.
We will now accept requests for service substitutions, SPIN changes and SPIN corrections by fax and by e-mail in addition to regular mail. In addition, we will generally accept requests for service substitutions and SPIN changes up to the last date to receive service for the FRNs affected. Additional guidance has been provided for the situations in which a SPIN correction can be processed.
For more information, please refer to Service Substitutions, SPIN Change Guidance, and SPIN Correction Guidance.
The revised Form 486 and Form 479 are now available in the SL Forms section of this web site. These forms feature a date of September 2002 in the lower right-hand corner of each page. The revised instructions for these forms are also available in the SL Forms section.
An online version of the Form 486 will be available within the next several weeks. This online version will be identical in appearance to the printed form. Applicants with a User ID and a PIN will be able to certify the Form 486 online as well. A notice will be posted on this web site when the online version is available for filing.
The certifications for purposes of the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) on these forms are different for schools and for libraries. For more information on these certifications and on the requirements of CIPA, please refer to the New Guidance on CIPA Certifications for Funding Years 2001 and 2002 for Applicants that Include Libraries posted in the Reference Area of this web site, and to the revised instructions for the forms posted in the SL Forms section. Language has also been added to the Form 486 to advise that information provided on this form may be disclosed to the public.
The Form 486 has also been modified so that SLD will be able to automate data entry of paper forms and speed the processing of those forms.
Please note that the paper PDF versions of the Form 486 and Form 479 are only for printing blank forms to fill out by hand. If you wish to fill out the Form 486 on your computer, please wait for the online form to become available and complete that form and submit it online.
Applicants are encouraged to use the September 2002 versions of Form 486 and Form 479 from this point forward.
The Schools and Libraries Division has made "Authorized to Disburse" data available via its Data Retrieval Tool. The amount shown on the level of the Funding Request Number (FRN) is the funding that has been AUTHORIZED FOR DISBURSEMENT to date. Please note that it is possible that an authorization for an amount was approved, but no disbursement has yet been made for that amount. If you have questions about an amount listed in the data file you create, please contact the service provider on that FRN.
The SLD has completed the registration process for its Train-the-Trainer workshop in Arlington, Virginia on September 9-10, 2002. This workshop has been designed specifically for state and territorial coordinators and others designated by state officials who train or assist in the training of E-rate applicants.
Trainers who are unable to attend the training in person and others with an interest in the E-rate have expressed a desire to access the training presentations. These presentations are now available in PowerPoint format on the "Train-the-Trainer" 2002 Workshop page. A webcast of the training will also be made available within two weeks of the date of this posting. Please watch this web site for details on how to access the webcast
Beginning Monday, September 9, the SLD will apply the normal deadline for information requests. The SLD will again attempt to contact applicants who were not successfully contacted during the summer period, using the applicant's preferred mode of contact. The SLD will then complete the information request process described in the Deadline For Information Requests as posted in the Reference Area of this web site.
Three updates have been made to the blue navigation buttons located in the upper right-hand corner of our web pages.
First, a new button named "SL Overview" has been added to the top of the list. This button accesses the content of the four-page overview document on the E-rate in HTML format. This document is also available in PDF format in the Reference Area under Program Overview.
Second, the button formerly named "How to Apply" has been renamed "Applicants." No content has been changed, and the drop-down menu options have been retained. Third, the button named "SLD Forms" has been renamed "SL Forms." Again, no content has been changed.
We believe these changes will help users access information more easily and will bring greater uniformity among the web pages of the different Universal Service Support Mechanisms.
SLD has recently made two improvements to its web site that will assist users in finding needed information.
The SLD Search Engine is now operational, initially on a limited basis. As content is reviewed for accuracy, the search capability will be expanded.
The Search Engine is found on the right side of most SLD web pages. A link for Search Tips is also provided.
The second web enhancement appears in the SLD Reference Area. Users can now choose to see document titles organized either alphabetically or by topic.
SLD has posted additional information in the Reference Area of this web site concerning "On-premise Priority 1 Equipment." This term refers to equipment located at the applicant site that is a part of a Priority 1 (Telecommunications Services or Internet Access) service.
The new information is an outgrowth of a "Technology Dialogue" teleconference that the SLD hosted on July 2. Contributors to the dialogue requested additional guidance concerning the acceptable configurations for On-premise Priority 1 components. Participants included representatives from BellSouth, Enterasys Networks, IBM, Qwest, SBC Communications, Spectrum Communications, Sprint, the state of Tennessee, and Trillion Digital Communications.
The document indicates that the components located at an applicant site are presumed to be Internal Connections, but that this presumption can be overcome in certain limited cases. Thus, some equipment at the applicant site can potentially be funded as Priority 1 services - Telecommunications Services or Internet Access. Since Priority 1 services have a higher likelihood of being funded than Priority 2 services (Internal Connections), this distinction may be advantageous to applicants in the narrow circumstances under which the FCC conditions are met.
Some of the limiting conditions for On-premise Priority 1 Equipment are as follows:
The new information provides clarification that will help applicants and service providers select the proper category of service for funding requests. Examples of acceptable and unacceptable configurations are provided. You can view the full information in Eligibility for On-premise Priority 1 Equipment posted in the Reference Area of this web site.
In response to applicant and service provider requests, the Schools & Libraries (USAC) is providing a preliminary summary of the auditors' observations for the first and second rounds of beneficiary audits for the Schools and Libraries Support Mechanism. USAC's review of the first round of beneficiary audit is complete. Upon the completion of the review and validation of the round two auditors' reports, USAC will post a web notice to inform applicants and service providers of resulting observations and related concerns from both rounds, and suggest a "best practice" to address each concern.
You can view this preliminary summary in Beneficiary Audits - Preliminary Auditors' Observations posted in the Reference Area of this web site.
The SLD has added fax and e-mail options to the guidance on CIPA certifications posted in the Reference Area of this web site. The fax number and e-mail address are available for applicants in Category 3 to request a restoration of funds that were reduced or cancelled pursuant to a Form 500. They may also be used by applicants who believe they are in Category 4 but cannot verify that their Service Start Date has been revised. For more information, please refer to the New Guidance on CIPA Certifications.
The BEAR Approval letter has a new look and a new name. The SLD has renamed the letter "Form 472 BEAR Notification Letter" and made some improvements. The Form 472 BEAR Notification Letter now provides payment information for all Funding Request Numbers (FRNs) submitted on the invoice, whether payment is approved or denied. The letter also indicates if a BEAR invoice is cancelled and why it was cancelled. A sample of the Form 472 BEAR Notification Letter is posted in the Sample Letters section of the Reference Area of this web site. The Form 472 BEAR Notification Letter will continue to be issued to the service provider, with a copy also being sent to the applicant. Production of these letters is scheduled to start this week. Definitions for Invoice Error Codes featured in these letters are provided in the Service Provider Area of this web site.
After consultation between the Wireline Competition Bureau of the FCC (Bureau) and the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Company, the Bureau has directed the SLD to put the following guidance on this web site. The New Guidance on CIPA Certifications is located in the Reference Area of this web site.
You can now change certain contact information on your Form 471 after the SLD has issued your Funding Commitment Decision Letter. Information on the procedure for making such changes is contained in Contact Information Changes posted in the Reference Area of this web site. You can also call the Client Service Bureau at 1-888-203-8100 for guidance.
The SLD has posted guidance in the Reference Area of this web site about "Good Samaritan" situations. These situations can occur when an applicant has not received reimbursement from a service provider for services for which the applicant has paid in full.
For more information, please refer to the "Good Samaritan" Solution for Certain Applicants.
Funding Request data is now available on this web site. The funding data retrieval tool and instructions for its use are located in the new Data Requests section of this web site.
This tool will allow you to retrieve data from one or more Funding Requests. You must specify a Funding Year and a state for your data retrieval; there are also optional criteria you can use to further narrow the scope of the data retrieved.
The data will be returned to you in a tab-delimited text file in the location you specify.
In order to help applicants, service providers, and those who wish to analyze the E-rate program, the SLD announces that it expects to make Form 471 and FRN data available on this web site to any who wish to make use of them beginning on Thursday, July 25, 2002.
For each Funding Request Number (FRN), the SLD's database has information from the original Form 471, from the Form 471 as committed, from the Form 486, and information about disbursements based on invoices. This information can be valuable to applicants and service providers and to those wishing to analyze it to better understand E-rate impacts. Various parties have requested data from the SLD's database, and the majority of the data requested have been provided.
Those interested will be able to select the FRNs for which they want information by funding year and state. Users will be able to further refine their query by entering criteria for service type, application type, discount percent, 471 number, and FRN. Once the requestor has submitted the criteria, the system will build a tab-delimited data file that can be downloaded to a user-defined storage location. Spreadsheet or other application software can be used to open the file and analyze the data.
The data file will contain over forty data points, including name and address of the applicant, service provider name, Form 486 service start date, date of Funding Commitment Decision Letter (FCDL), Funding Commitment Decision Explanation (if applicable), and requested and committed amounts including monthly and non-recurring components. Future versions of the system will include actual amount disbursed to date.
With a Form 471 Application Number, interested parties will also be able to view a Form 471. On a current Form 471, only the FRNs on the Form 471 that have been assigned a final commitment status (funded or denied) will appear. If an FRN was adjusted by a Form 500 after commitment, the adjusted data will be shown.
The SLD has been working on making this information available for many months and believes it will enable applicants to track the status of their funding requests more closely; for example, applicants will have more information about their funded FRNs than is reported on the FCDL. When disbursement data become available, they will be able to monitor disbursements as frequently as they wish and not just quarterly as today. Service providers will be able to easily monitor whether Forms 486 have been submitted and the status of disbursements.
Many of the FCC forms that collected the information that will be made publicly available contained erroneous references to the Privacy Act. The Wireline Competition Bureau of the FCC has held that the Privacy Act pertains only to individuals and thus because applicants are not individuals they have no protections under the Privacy Act, notwithstanding the erroneous Privacy Act notices. [See Letter From Joseph Hall, Assistant Bureau Chief for Management, Wireline Competition Bureau to William T. Josem dated May 20, 2002 (FOIA Control Number 2001-215).] These erroneous notices will be removed from future versions of the forms.
The SLD has prepared a four-page document entitled "E-rate Discounts for Schools and Libraries." This document provides a brief but complete overview of the entire application process, from the preparation of the Technology Plan to the receipt of discounts by either the applicant or the service provider. By reading this short document, potential applicants can gain a clear understanding of the requirements of the E-rate process and be encouraged to participate.
You can print E-rate Discounts for Schools and Libraries from this web site, or you can call the Client Service Bureau at 1-888-203-8100 after August 1, 2002 and request that a copy be mailed to you.
The FCC released on Friday, June 28, an order adopting interim measures to ensure that FCC's implementation of the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) complies with the recent decision by a three-judge panel in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Click here to read the order.
The order suspends enforcement of FCC rules implementing section 254(h)(6) of CIPA, relating to filtering requirements for computers with Internet access in libraries, pending Supreme Court action on the appeal of the panel's decision. It directs USAC, in consultation with FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau, to implement the necessary procedural changes, including changes to the CIPA-related certifications required of applicants.
Suspension of enforcement of filtering requirements applies to all libraries, public and private. It does NOT apply to schools; CIPA's filtering requirements as applied to schools and, therefore, school libraries have not been challenged and remain in effect.
Also, because the requirements for an Internet safety policy in section 254(l) were not challenged, they remain in effect for schools and libraries receiving discounts on Internet access or internal connections. A library receiving E-rate discounts for these services is still required to have an Internet safety policy that addresses: (1) access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet and World Wide Web, (2) the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications, (3) unauthorized access, including hacking, and other unlawful activities by minors online, (4) unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal identification information regarding minors, and (5) measures designed to restrict minors' access to materials harmful to minors. Section 254(l) also includes a public notice and hearing/meeting requirement, which remains in force.
The order directs USAC in consultation with the Bureau to make any changes necessary to the procedures and to FCC Form 486 and FCC Form 479 so that libraries receiving discounts on Internet access or internal connections can certify to compliance with section 254(l) without also certifying to section 254(h)(6).
In order to ensure that library applicants in Funding Year 2001 (formerly called Funding Year 4) not be penalized for non-compliance with section 254(h)(6) of CIPA, the FCC has directed USAC as follows:
USAC will be working closely with Bureau staff in the coming days to identify appropriate procedures and form changes to implement this new order. Additional information will be posted on this web site as it becomes available.
View the FCC Order released on June 28, 2002 (PDF Format; 138kb)
Linda Schatz, Vice President of Outreach and Education for the Schools and Libraries Division of USAC, announced today that, after nearly three years with the E-rate program, she will be leaving USAC effective June 30 to explore other opportunities in education and educational technology. "I am especially proud of the program improvements we identified with the help of the applicants and their state and national representatives along with the SLD's Client Service Bureau who has direct communications with the applicants. Being able to implement changes to make the program easier to understand, improve customer service though the Client Service Bureau, and ease the application process for schools and libraries was very rewarding," said Schatz, who has dedicated her career to providing increased access to educational technology solutions to improve the teaching and learning process.
"We are truly sorry to see Linda leave the organization. She has made many great contributions to our efforts and in forging positive and productive relationships with the people in the field. We do understand her desire to apply her extensive background, experience and expertise to the broader applications of technology to education. We are hoping to be able to call on Linda in the future to help us continue the efforts she has developed," said George McDonald, Vice President of USAC for the Schools and Libraries Division.
"Linda has shown great dedication to the E-rate in her years with USAC and in the years before she came to us," said USAC's CEO, Cheryl Parrino. "She has been committed to improving customer service and our communications with schools and libraries, and she has accomplished a great deal."
SLD's day-to-day outreach activities will be handled by John Noran, who has been working with Ms. Schatz for the past two years
The deadline for postmarking an invoice (a Form 472, BEAR Form or a Form 474, SPI Form) to the SLD has been extended from 90 days to 120 days. The SLD has extended this deadline with FCC approval because many applicants indicated that it would be difficult for them to file BEAR Forms for recurring services by the 90-day deadline of September 28 after the close of the funding year.
This extension from 90 days to 120 days is now in effect. Invoicing Deadlines and Extension Requests posted in the Reference Area and the FRN Extension Table have been updated to reflect this extension.
The information on invoicing deadlines now reads:
Invoices must be postmarked no later than
whichever is later.
If an invoice is postmarked after the deadlines listed above, payment will be denied.
This extension will also apply to Funding Year 1999 (FY2) applicants who received FCDLs dated after April 24, 2001 and before March 1, 2002 and Funding Year 2000 (FY3) applicants who received FCDLs dated after December 1, 2001 and before March 1, 2002.
For these applicants, invoices must be postmarked no later than:
whichever is latest.
If an invoice is postmarked after the latest of the above dates, payment will be denied.
The SLD has posted a new document in the Reference Area entitled Audits of Beneficiaries Fact Sheet. This document provides basic information about beneficiary audits, including a partial list of auditable program requirements and a list of the documents that applicants should retain for each application.
A three-judge panel of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled on Friday, May 31, 2002, that Sections 1712(a)(2) and 1721(b) of the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) (applying to libraries) are facially invalid under the First Amendment and permanently enjoined the government from enforcing those provisions. The court found unconstitutional section 254(h)(6), which set out a requirement that a library receiving E-rate discounts have a technology protection measure for its computers with Internet access. Thus, public libraries receiving E-rate discounts are not required to filter their computers with Internet access.
The Neighborhood Children's Internet Protection Act, which amended 47 U.S.C. Section 254 by adding subsection (l), is not affected by the Court's decision and remains intact. Thus, a library receiving E-rate discounts is still required to have an Internet safety policy that addresses: (1) access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet and World Wide Web, (2) the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications, (3) unauthorized access, including hacking, and other unlawful activities by minors online, (4) unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal identification information regarding minors, and (5) measures designed to restrict minors' access to materials harmful to minors. Section 254(l) also includes a public notice and hearing/meeting requirement, which remains in force.
It is important to note that the decision did not address CIPA requirements as they apply to schools. Those requirements remain in full force and effect, and schools will continue to be required to meet CIPA requirements as spelled out in FCC regulations in order to receive funds from the Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support Mechanism.
SLD is working closely with FCC staff on how the court's decision will affect SLD's treatment of libraries' discounts. We will post information on that subject, including any changes in the requirements for proper completion of forms, on this web site as soon as it becomes available.
The SLD has created a new title called "Deadlines" in the Reference Area. Under this title, we will post links to documents on deadlines and extension requests for specific topics. The following three documents are currently available:
Service Delivery Deadlines and Extension Requests
Form 486 Deadlines
Invoicing Deadlines and Extension RequestsUpcoming Deadlines to Note (FY 1999 and FY 2000)
Certain applicants whose deadline(s) have already passed will receive an additional extension from the Form 486 deadlines and invoicing deadlines contained in the above documents based on the date of their Funding Commitment Decision Letter (FCDL). These applicants must be either Funding Year 1999 (FY2) applicants who received FCDLs dated after April 24, 2001 and before March 1, 2002; or Funding Year 2000 (FY3) applicants who received FCDLs dated after December 1, 2001 and before March 1, 2002. For these applicants, the following extensions apply:
If an invoice is postmarked after the latest of the above dates, payment will be denied.
The SLD's information request process calls for a timely response from applicants to our requests for additional or clarifying information and/or documentation about their forms. This process is described in the document Deadline for Information Requests posted in the Reference Area of this web site.
We know that most schools and some libraries close or reduce service hours during the summer months. Therefore, during the summer period from Friday, May 24, 2002 through Friday, September 6, 2002, we will enforce deadlines for receipt of information only after we make a successful two-way contact with the applicant's contact person or other person designated by the contact person. We will attempt to make this two-way contact both by the preferred mode of contact and by telephone. If we are unable to make a successful two-way contact during this period - or if appropriate staff who can provide the necessary information are unavailable - we will send a fax to the contact person notifying them that the affected form(s) cannot be processed, and a Funding Commitment Decision Letter cannot be issued, until the additional information is received.
After September 6, the SLD will again attempt to contact applicants who were not successfully contacted during the summer period, using the applicant's preferred mode of contact. The SLD will then complete the information request process described in the Deadline for Information Requests
In Funding Year 2002 waves, applicants and service providers may see the following message on Funding Commitment Decision Letters (FCDLs) under "Funding Commitment Decision Explanation" for some Internal Connections Funding Requests:
"Funding cap will not provide for Internal Connections less than 90% discount to be funded. Please see www.sl.universalservice.org for further details."
This message is currently incorrect. The SLD has not yet determined whether funds will be available for requests for Internal Connections with approved discount percentages between 80% and 89%. No denials for such requests will be issued in the first wave(s) of Funding Year 2002 commitments. At this time SLD has, however, determined that funds will NOT be available for requests for Internal Connections with approved discount percentages below 80%.
As more applications complete the review process, we may determine that funds will not be sufficient for Internal Connections requests with approved discount percentages below 90%. At that time, we would issue such denials and post a notice to that effect on the web site.
The SLD has determined that sufficient funds will not be available for out-of-window Funding Year 2002 (Year 5) applications. Funding requests submitted on Form 471 applications received or postmarked after January 17, 2002 are considered out-of-window.
Therefore, we have removed Funding Year 2002 as an option from the drop-down box for the online Form 471. We will continue to mail an out-of window postcard notification to any applicant who files a manual Form 471 for Funding Year 2002 outside the Form 471 application filing window.
The FCC Form 470 for Funding Year 2003 (07/01/2003-06/30/2004) is now available for filing. You may file this form online from the Apply Online area of this web site, or download the Form 470 and Instructions from the SLD Forms section of this web site.
Form 470 has been changed slightly from the version dated September 1999, but both versions of the form will be accepted. However, if you are filing manually, you are encouraged to use the April 2002 version.
An information box has been added at the bottom of the certification page, cautioning applicants that service provider involvement with preparation or certification of a Form 470 can taint the competitive bidding process and result in the denial of funding requests.
As we issue the first Funding Commitment Decision Letters for Funding Year 2002 (07/01/2002 - 06/30/2003), we would like to remind applicants that their next step after receiving a Funding Commitment Decision Letter will be to file FCC Form 486. Applicants who are seeking support for more than basic local and/or long distance telephone service (wireline or wireless) will need to certify on their Form 486 that their technology plan has been approved, and provide the name of the SLD-certified Technology Plan Approver that has reviewed and approved their technology plan.
Applicants that are looking for an SLD-certified Technology Plan Approver can access the new Certified Technology Plan Approver Locator in the Reference Area of this web site under "Technology Planning." This tool will allow you to search our database of SLD-certified Technology Plan Approvers to find one that serves your community.
For more information about Technology Plan requirements, please see the Technology Planning document posted in the Reference Area of this web site.
The first wave of Funding Commitment Decision Letters for Funding Year 2002 will be mailed Wednesday, April 24. The wave will include over 9,300 letters to applicants, notifying them that they will be receiving funding for Priority One services (telecommunications services and Internet access). The letters will reflect commitments of over $189 million in Universal Service discounts.
Estimated demand for Priority One services for Funding Year 2002 totals $1.817 billion. Estimated demand for internal connections at the 90% level for Funding Year 2002 is $2.619 billion. Depending on a variety of factors, and given a total funding cap for Funding Year 2002 of $2.25 billion, USAC for the first time may be unable to fully fund all requests for internal connections at the 90% discount level. Further, USAC may also be unable to fund any internal connections requests below the 90% discount level.
Applicants who receive Funding Year 2002 Funding Commitment Decision Letters should read them carefully. The letters contain information on next steps, including the deadline for filing the Form 486, certification(s) for the purposes of the Children's Internet Protection Act, deadlines for filing invoices, and the procedure for filing appeals.
The terminology that SLD uses for funding years under the Schools and Libraries Support Mechanism is changing. Funding years will now be designated by the calendar year in which they begin. Under the new terminology, Funding Year 1 becomes Funding Year 1998, Funding Year 2 becomes Funding Year 1999, and so on.
The SLD is moving to this new terminology because participants have expressed confusion about the current terminology to SLD.
Future communications from SLD will now use this terminology to refer to all funding years (see the posting immediately below).
In the Demand Estimate Letter to FCC [Word document, 27kb] posted to this web site on 03/01/2002, the SLD concluded that there might not be sufficient funding to fully fund all funding requests at the 90% discount level for Internal Connections in Funding Year 2002. If that turns out to be the case, applicants in the 90% discount band will receive commitments for Internal Connections for less than the amount they requested, and they may have difficulty proceeding to use the committed funds.
SLD understands that some applicants duplicated their pending Funding Year 2001 requests in their Funding Year 2002 Forms 471 in instances where they had not received their Funding Commitment Decision Letters before the close of the Funding Year 2002 Form 471 application filing window. Other applicants may have asked for amounts that they hoped they would be able to use, but may now see that they cannot use all they requested. Or applicants may have based their Funding Year 2002 funding request for a tariffed or month-to-month service on a projected rate increase that is now known to be much smaller than expected.
The SLD encourages applicants who know that they will not use all of their Funding Year 2002 requested amounts to notify the SLD of an appropriate reduction or cancellation of their funding requests. This action would allow the SLD to distribute the amounts that are available for Funding Year 2002 in ways that will maximize their use.
If you would like to notify the SLD of a voluntary reduction or cancellation of a Funding Year 2002 funding request, please use one of the following methods:
Mark up your RAL to reflect your reduced or canceled funding request. Follow the steps below to reduce or cancel your funding request by marking up your Receipt Acknowledgment Letter (RAL). This voluntary reduction or cancellation of a funding request may be done at any time; it is NOT subject to the customary three-week limit for submitting corrections on a marked-up RAL.
Data Entry Corrections - Funding Request Reduction
Schools and Libraries Division
Box 125 - Correspondence Unit
80 South Jefferson Road
Whippany, NJ 07981
Alternatively, you may fax your marked-up RAL copy with a fax cover page to:
ATTN: Data Entry Corrections - Funding Request Reduction
Fax number: (973) 884-8217
Be sure to indicate the number of pages you are faxing on your fax cover page. When faxing, save your confirmation page from sending the fax as your receipt of completed transmission.
If you are in contact with PIA, officially communicate your reduced or canceled funding request to your PIA representative. If a representative of the Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) team is already in contact with you because of a review of your Funding Year 2002 application, your representative can provide you with information on the procedure for reducing or canceling your funding request with your representative.
File an FCC Form 500 after you have received your funding commitment for Funding Year 2002. If you must wait until after you receive your Funding Commitment Decision Letter to notify the SLD that you are ready to reduce your funding commitment, you can file an FCC Form 500 to reduce or cancel your commitment. The sooner the SLD can process your request to reduce or cancel your commitment amount, the faster the SLD can return the difference between the original and reduced or canceled commitments to the funds from which SLD can provide funding commitments. The FCC Form 500 and Instructions can be found in the SL Forms section of this web site.
Pursuant to a request by the FCC, USAC has filed comments on the FCC's Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) and Order, FCC 02-8. This NPRM initiates a review of certain rules governing the universal service support mechanism for schools and libraries.
A copy of the comments made by USAC is available in PDF format [199kb]. Go to USAC comments.
Reply comments relating to the NPRM are due by May 6, 2002. Comments may be filed with the FCC on paper or electronically. Instructions for filing comments may be found in the NPRM [PDF format, 290kb].
The last wave of Funding Commitment Decision Letters (FCDLs) for Funding Year 4 (the Funding Year beginning July 1, 2001) was issued as Wave 15 on March 15, 2002. In Wave 15, the SLD funded approved Internal Connections requests at the 86% level and above, and denied requests below this level.
The SLD is still reviewing a small number of properly completed Form 471 applications which were received or postmarked within the Funding Year 4 Form 471 application filing window but for which an FCDL has not yet been issued. Funds have been reserved for those applications, and FCDLs will be issued for those applications as the SLD completes its review process. Letters are now being sent to these applicants notifying them that their applications are still under review. Applicants can also check the status of their Form(s) 471 in the Apply Online section of this web site.
The total amount of funds committed in Funding Year 4 now stands at slightly over $2.255 billion. Although the funding cap for this Funding Year is set at $2.25 billion, this cap applies to disbursements, not to commitments. Historically, not all funds that are committed in a Funding Year end up being disbursed. The SLD's estimate of total funds that will actually be disbursed for Funding Year 4 - including funds for meritorious appeals - does not exceed this $2.25 billion cap on disbursements
SLD recently announced in Additional Method for Submitting FY5 Form 471 Item 21 Attachments that it would accept Form 471 Item 21 attachments by e-mail. The SLD also will now accept Form 471 Item 21 attachments by fax. Below are guidelines for submitting your Form 471 Item 21 attachments by these two methods.
NOTE: If you have already been contacted by a Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) representative about your Form 471, send your Form 471 Item 21 attachments directly to the representative's e-mail address or fax number as requested, NOT to the e-mail address or fax number below.
Submitting Form 471 Item 21 attachments by e-mail:
Submitting Form 471 Item 21 attachments by fax:
The SLD is committed to doing all we can to issue timely Funding Commitment Decision Letters for Funding Year 5. An important factor in our ability to meet that goal is the efficient processing of more than 36,000 FCC Form 471 applications that were received or postmarked within the application filing window. Reviews of those applications must be assigned and completed promptly and accurately for us to finish processing those applications and issue funding decisions.
We are providing you with a summary of our information request process so that you are aware of the need for a timely response to our requests as outlined below. These requests for additional or clarifying information and/or documentation may be about your FCC Form 471 or any other form.
First, the SLD will attempt to make a successful contact with you using the preferred mode of contact indicated on your form unless the preferred mode of contact is mail. In that case, you will be contacted by telephone.
The following are considered successful contacts:
If the first attempt to contact you is successful, the SLD will follow up with a confirmation. If a successful contact is not made, a second attempt will be made within three business days. If the first attempt to contact you reveals that you are unavailable until a specified date, the SLD will attempt to contact you after the specified date.
You must respond fully to the request and forward all requested documentation to the SLD within seven calendar days after the date of the follow-up confirmation.
If the SLD is unable to contact you as described above, or if the SLD receives an incomplete response from you within seven calendar days, the SLD will send a follow-up fax. You must respond fully to that request and forward all requested documentation to the SLD within seven calendar days after the date that the follow-up fax is sent.
If the SLD is unable to make a successful contact, we will use the information available to attempt to make a successful contact with someone else in your organization. If a successful contact is made, the response timelines described above will apply.
If the SLD does not receive a complete response within the time period set for you to respond, the SLD will attempt to process as much of the form as possible with the information we have. The action taken by the SLD may include rejection or denial of individual Funding Requests or of the entire form.
The SLD cannot process your Funding Year 5 Form(s) 471 until it receives the relevant attachment(s) you identified for each Form 471 Block 5 Item 21, Description of Services. You may submit your Form 471 Item 21 attachment(s) by mail, or you may now e-mail your Form 471 Item 21 attachment(s) to the following address:
Do not send submissions other than Form 471 Item 21 attachments to this e-mail address.
To complete the submission of your Form 471 Item 21 attachment(s) by e-mail, follow these steps:
NOTE: If you have already been contacted by a Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) representative about your Form 471, send your Form 471 Item 21 attachments directly to the representative's e-mail address or fax number as requested, NOT to the e-mail address above.
On February 28, 2002, the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Schools & Libraries (USAC) reported to the Federal Communications Commission that $5.736 billion in requested funding has been estimated for schools and libraries seeking E-rate discounts for Funding Year 5. This estimate is based on the dollars requested in 36,043 applications received or postmarked by January 17, 2002, 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, 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 FY5 Demand Estimate Letter to FCC [Word document: 27kb] and the FY5 Demand Estimate Breakdown [Excel file: 63kb].
It has come to the attention of the SLD that some service providers may be using applicants' e-mail addresses accessible from searches of Forms 470 posted on the SLD web site to send out group messages unrelated to the applicants' Form 470 requests for services.
Applicants and contact persons provide their e-mail addresses on FCC Forms 470 to facilitate contact on issues pertaining to their requests for funding. Service providers interested in responding to Requests For Proposals or submitting bids for services listed on posted Forms 470 can also use these e-mail addresses to contact the Form 470 applicants.
SLD strongly discourages service providers and others, however, from using these e-mail addresses for improper purposes, including broadcasting unsolicited e-mail messages. SLD may investigate instances of improper use and take appropriate action.
Funding Commitment Decision Letters (FCDLs) for Wave 15 of Funding Year 4 (the Funding Year beginning July 1, 2001) that would have normally been issued on February 22, 2002 will be issued on or after March 1, 2002.
There are two reasons for this timing for Wave 15. First, applicants whose FCDLs are dated on or after March 1, 2002 (including applicants in Wave 15) have an additional year - until September 30, 2003 - to complete the delivery and installation of non-recurring services. Support for recurring services, however, is available only for services provided through June 30, 2002.
Second, this additional time will allow the SLD an opportunity to review more applications and complete funding decisions on those applications. If enough funding decisions can be completed, it is possible that the final funding threshold for Internal Connections can be established and Wave 15 will become the last regular wave of funding commitments for Funding Year 4.
Even if Wave 15 is the last regular wave for Funding Year 4, additional commitments will continue to be made as funding decisions are completed on any remaining applications still under review. Letters will be sent to those applicants who have not yet been issued an FCDL in FY4 to notify them that their application is still under review. These letters will only be sent to those applicants whose properly completed applications were received or postmarked within the FY4 Form 471 application filing window.
In an earlier What's New posting, we told you that we would notify you when the FCC's Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) on the review of certain rules governing the schools and libraries support mechanism was published in the Federal Register. The NPRM appears in the Federal Register for today, February 19, 2002, and this publication starts the period during which interested parties can file comments with the FCC on the NPRM.
Comments on the NPRM are due on or before April 5, 2002, which is 45 days after the date of publication. Reply comments are due on or before May 6, 2002, which is 75 days after the date of publication.
For more information, including the complete text of the NPRM and the instructions for filing comments on paper or electronically, please refer to the What's New posting FCC Releases NPRM on Schools and Libraries Support Mechanism (1/29/02).
Funding Commitment Decision Letters for Wave 14 of Funding Year 4 (the Funding Year beginning July 1, 2001) will be issued today. We expect data on this wave to be available in the Funding Commitments area of this web site on February 11, 2002.
In this wave, the SLD will be committing over $207 million in discounts to schools and libraries. This wave marks the first time in Funding Year 4 that the SLD will fund Internal Connections funding requests at the 87% discount level. Funding requests for Internal Connections below the 85% discount level will continue to be denied due to insufficient funds; uncertainty exists about requests at the 85% and 86% discount levels.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released Order FCC 01-376 on December 26, 2001 which amends its procedural rules for filing appeals. This Order became effective January 24, 2002 upon its publication in the Federal Register.
This publication notice can be found on page 3441 of the Federal Register, Vol. 67, No. 16, for Thursday, January 24, 2002. It is available on the web in both text and PDF versions as the only entry under the "Federal Communications Commission" heading on the web page for the Federal Register, Vol. 67, No. 16.
A detailed discussion of the options for filing appeals with the FCC and the SLD can be found in the Appeals Procedure posted in the Reference Area of this web site.
Please note the following:
On January 25, 2002, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and Order, FCC 02-8. This NPRM initiates a review of certain rules governing the universal service support mechanism for schools and libraries. The goals of the NPRM are as follows:
A notice will be posted on this web site when this NPRM is published in the Federal Register. Comments are due 45 days after the NPRM is published in the Federal Register. Reply comments are due 75 days after the NPRM is published in the Federal Register. Comments may be filed on paper or electronically. Instructions for filing comments may be found in paragraphs 108 - 113 of the NPRM.
The NRPM is available in the following formats:
The Form 471 application filing window for Funding Year 5 closed on Thursday, January 17, 2002 at 11:59 p.m. EST. All properly-completed Form 471 applications received or postmarked by the close of the application filing window will be treated as if they were simultaneously received.
The SLD continues to receive and data enter manually-submitted Forms 471 postmarked on or before January 17. Once financial information has been obtained from those forms, the SLD will be able to complete the process of analysis necessary to report the demand estimate for Funding Year 5 to the Federal Communications Commission. Upon completion of that analysis, the SLD will make the demand estimate for Funding Year 5 available on this web site.
The SLD will shortly be issuing both Funding Commitment Decision Letters (FCDLs) for original funding commitments and funding commitments based on successful appeals for certain Funding Year 2 (FY2) and Funding Year 3 (FY3) applicants.
Recurring services must have been delivered during the period of July 1 to June 30 of the relevant Funding Year to be eligible for reimbursement from these funds. (In other words, FY2 recurring services must have been delivered from July 1, 1999 to June 30, 2000; FY3 recurring services must have been delivered from July 1, 2000 to June 30, 2001.) In order to receive reimbursement, you must file Form 486, Receipt of Service Confirmation Form, and then you or your service provider must submit invoices for eligible services delivered in the Funding Year. The Form 486 notifies the SLD to begin payment to your service provider and provides certified indication that your technology plan(s) has been approved. (See below for more information on the Form 486.)
Any NON-RECURRING service for which funds are committed in these letters may be delivered up to September 30, 2002. Applicants whose commitments include support for non-recurring services are advised of the following:
Since these commitments come well after your application was submitted, it is possible that the Contract Expiration Date(s) indicated on your FCC Form 471 will have passed. (The Contract Expiration Date(s) indicated on your Form 471 can be found on the Funding Commitment Report attached to your FCDL.)
Contracts for non-recurring services may be voluntarily extended to coincide with the appropriate deadline for implementation. However, other contractual provisions may not be extended beyond the dates established by the Federal Communications Commission's rules without complying with the competitive bidding process. If you have been waiting for your FCDL before you direct your service provider to start non-recurring service and if the Contract Expiration Date on your Form 471 has passed, the SLD will not be able to process an FCC Form 486 with an Actual Service Start Date after the Contract Expiration Date. If this is true for you, you should first negotiate a contract extension with your service provider and then file an FCC Form 500, Adjustment to Funding Commitment and Modification to Receipt of Service Confirmation Form, to notify the SLD of the new Expiration Date.
After submitting the Form 500, your next step will be to file the Form 486 with the SLD. The Form 486 and instructions can be found in the SLD Forms section of this web site. The Form 486, dated July, 2001 in the lower right corner, MUST be used for Funding Year 4 and for any previous Funding Years. As you complete Form 486, you should also contact your service providers to verify they have received notice from the SLD of your funding commitments. After the SLD processes your Form 486, we can begin processing invoices for those discounted services.
The Client Service Bureau will be open on the final day of the Form 471 application filing window, Thursday, January 17, 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 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 Client Service Bureau by calling 1-888-203-8100.
Applicants who manually submit any Form 471 application materials are advised to keep proof of the date of mailing of those materials.
Applicants who manually submit any Form 471 application materials are advised to keep proof of the date of mailing of those materials.
The Schools and Libraries Division has posted one new document and two revised documents in the Reference Area of this web site.
The Free Services Advisory is a new document which cautions applicants and service providers about practices that are contrary to program rules, in areas such as price reductions, promotional offers, "free" products or services, and trade-in allowances, and provides a number of examples of such prohibited practices.
Cost Allocation Guidelines for Products and Services that Contain Eligible and Ineligible Components discusses the SLD administration of products and services that have a mixture of eligible and ineligible components. Two models are employed - "cost allocation" and "ancillary use."
The Wide Area Network (WAN) Fact Sheet discusses wide area networks and the circumstances under which components of such networks can be considered eligible for discounts under the Schools and Libraries Support Mechanism.
In order to assist applicants as we near the end of the Form 471 application filing window, the Client Service Bureau will be open on Saturday, January 12 and Sunday, January 13 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST. You can reach the Client Service Bureau Help Line by calling 1-888-203-8100.
We are re-posting the following information for your convenience as we near the close of the Form 471 application filing window:
Form 470 certification: A completed Form 470 certification is a Block 5 certification with the signature of the authorized person. Forms 470 with completed certifications submitted in a previous year meet this requirement, as do those filed for Year 5 and submitted to the SLD with a postmark date on or before January 17, 2002. Any Year 5 Form 471 Block 5 funding request based on a Form 470 whose certification has not been received by 11:59 p.m. EST on January 17, 2002 or postmarked on or before January 17, 2002 will be rejected.
January 17, 2002 deadline: Failure to make the January 17, 2002 deadline for Form 471 application materials will place the entire application outside the window, and the applicant's funding will be jeopardized.
FCC Form 471 may be filed online from the "Apply Online" section of this web site or downloaded for manual filing from the "SLD Forms" section of this web site.
For those choosing to deliver their application(s) to the NCS facility in Lawrence, Kansas, we must receive your application materials by 11:59 p.m. EST on January 17, 2002.
Following are driving directions to the NCS Pearson facility.
If you are still filing your Form 471, and are filing electronically, you must have a Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) for each Funding Request in order to progress through Block 5 of the electronic form. Filers who do not have a SPIN will receive an electronic message as they attempt to complete the form directing them to call the SLD Client Service Bureau (CSB) for assistance.
Please note that SPIN assistance is available for those online filers who have completed the competitive bidding process, 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.) Call the CSB toll-free at 1-888-203-8100, and representatives will provide you this assistance. Remember that CSB hours of service are 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST.
The BEAR/SPIN Search function on this web site has been enhanced to provide more information to assist applicants in identifying Service Providers, including Service Provider contact information and whether companies have been determined by SLD to be eligible to provide telecommunications services under the Schools and Libraries Support Mechanism.
The BEAR/SPIN Search can be accessed from the Reference Area of this web site, either through the navigation button on the menu bar of the Reference Area or in the topic list under BEAR/SPIN Search.
Once you connect to the BEAR/SPIN Search area, you will enter the full Service Provider name, a partial name with a "wild card" option, or the SPIN (Service Provider Identification Number). You must then click the NEXT button in order to start the search.
The information returned by the search shows:
Note: The absence of a "Y" in the last column may simply indicate that the company has not yet been researched by the SLD to determine if it is eligible to provide telecommunications services. Applicants are reminded that they should confirm this and all other information with their Service Provider.
Service Providers are reminded that updates to this information are accomplished only through the filing of a revised Form 498. The Form 498 and Instructions are available for download from the SLD web site in the SLD Forms area.