Commitments at Record Low, USAC Promises Results by Sept 24
At the Schools & Libraries Committee meeting this week in Washington, DC, USAC announced that it was on-track to complete the review of all workable FY2015 funding applications by September 24, 2015. Assuming this date is met, it would be approximately three weeks after the September 1 deadline established by the FCC in its E-rate Modernization Order.
Issuing its decision letters by September 24 would be a significant achievement for USAC. This record would require breaking not one, but two trends: one historic and one recent.
HISTORY OF LATER COMMITMENTS
Historically, funding commitment decision letters have languished well into the fall, even spilling over into the next calendar year. As shown in the graph below, it is not unusual for significant amounts of funding to be committed in October, November and December, or later. If USAC reaches its target and processes workable applications within the first quarter of the funding year, it would be a new record.
RECENT COMMITMENTS SLOWER
The pace of USAC funding commitments, as of late, has been on a downward trend. When calculated using a 12-month moving average*, the monthly committed amount has ranged between $200 million and $300 million for the past three years. (Ironically, the average pace of funding commitments has steadily declined since the E-rate reform measures were adopted by the FCC.) Most notably, for the past three months, the average pace has dropped to a record low of about $150 million per month.
USAC has a target of 19 funding waves for FY2015’s workable applications and expects to release them all by September 24. With nearly $3 billion in funding requests still pending, USAC clearly expects that the pace of funding commitments will increase significantly over the next 8 weeks. For the sake of schools and libraries who are waiting for these funds, let’s hope USAC’s record-breaking forecast is correct.
* NOTE: Because funding commitments are seasonal in nature (e.g. driven by the filing window dates, the release of funding waves, etc.), it can be difficult to gauge overall trends when looking at any single month. The 12-month moving average provides a clearer picture of the overall trend in monthly committed amounts.