E-rate Program Appeals Guidelines
After an appeal is filed with USAC concerning a funding commitment decision, USAC will verify during the appeal review process that the underlying Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) review was performed in compliance with program requirements and that the correct decision was achieved. If USAC made an error during the original PIA review of the application, USAC will correct the error.
During PIA review, USAC lowered the discount rate requested by the applicant. During the appeal review process, USAC will determine if the proper procedures were followed and whether the applicant was given the opportunity to provide supporting documentation to justify the higher discount rate. If the appeal review process determines that procedures were not followed and the applicant was not given an opportunity to provide that documentation, the applicant will be able to do so before the appeal review process has concluded. USAC will grant the appeal and approve the discount rate based on the supporting documentation provided during the appeal process.
New Documentation Provided
In general, a PIA reviewer will contact the applicant and ask for all information necessary to make decisions about an application. If that contact does not occur or the applicant is unable to respond to the request, and funding is denied, USAC may grant an appeal when the appellant provides the original documentation during the appeal process.
During PIA review, the applicant indicated that it did not have a signed contract and USAC denied funding because there was no signed contract. On appeal, the applicant explains that the requested services are services provided under tariff and not covered by a contract. USAC will generally accept this new information on appeal and will issue a decision based on the information provided.
However, USAC will not grant an appeal if the documentation provided during the appeal process contradicts information contained in the original file and the applicant is unable to resolve the discrepancy.
For example, if the applicant had provided an unsigned copy of a contract during the review of its application, USAC will generally not accept the applicant’s explanation during the appeal that it is a non-contractual tariffed service since it contradicts the documentation previously provided (e.g. a copy of the unsigned contract).
Accepting New Information
USAC will not accept new information on appeal if it is apparent that the documentation submitted is not the original documentation and was created in response to a USAC request during the appeal review process.
USAC also may not accept new information on appeal if it is clear that the applicant was not working with USAC in good faith.
Finally, it is important to understand that USAC can grant an appeal assuming no other issues are identified during the appeal review that would lead to a denial. If, on appeal, the basis for a funding denial is successfully refuted, USAC must examine all remaining aspects of the funding request to ensure that all program rules were met. If another reason for denial is not appealed or the appellant does not present a successful argument to USAC’s original decision, the appeal will be denied. All funding request denial reasons must be overcome on appeal for USAC to fund the Funding Request Number (FRN).
If USAC makes a new decision to deny funding, the appellant will have 60 days from the date of USAC’s decision letter to file an appeal with the FCC.