TIMELINESS

This is an article about timeliness. We have three GuideMark themes that we feel encapsulate the essence of Timeliness:
  • Fulfilling needs at the right moment with the proper use of resources
  • Completing responsibilities punctually and at the correct pace
  • Delivering on time so that others have adequate time to meet their obligations
Alas, here it is 3:45 p.m. on the day this article is due, so lecturing you on dangers of procrastination seems a bit hypocritical. (Ahem.) 
 
Another definition from Webster, this time for the word timely:

Appropriate or adapted to the times or the occasion
 
But that definition has interesting implications as it pertains to E-rate as well. I mean, we all know the knee-jerk reaction when we say “timely” and “E-rate” in the same breath: gotta meet all those deadlines, gotta get stuff in before it’s due, gotta give myself plenty of time to do things right. And all that is important – missed deadlines are no joke. But there’s also a side to E-rate that deals with trends – what’s at the forefront of program administration in any given season. Because it seems like each year, there is some aspect of the program that just seems to get a little more attention than it has in the past. Not to say that there is any one part of the program’s rules or regulations that aren’t important, but sometimes there are things that are just a little more emphasized than perhaps they had been in years past.

So what are they for 2018? I can think of a couple.
  • Addendums.  If you post an RFP in conjunction with your Form 470, the system allows you to upload additional documentation later in the form of an RFP addendum. This is pretty common in larger procurements, or in situations where the original RFP may have had some errors or omissions. But we’re seeing an increase in scrutiny of RFP addendums, particularly in cases where USAC opines that the content of the addendum represents a “cardinal change” – a term which isn’t strictly defined by the FCC. A cardinal change appears to be when a change is made to a bid that would affect a) how a particular bidder may structure their bid response; or, b) if a particular vendor would choose to bid on the project.  If USAC decides your addendum contains a cardinal change and you didn’t allow 28 additional calendar days after the addendum is posted, your funds can be denied. We have seen an increasing number of denials for this reason, and we anticipate that we’ll see more in the upcoming year. Tip from the pros: if you have any doubt at all about an addendum’s impact on the scope of work, extend your bid deadline 28 days from when that addendum is posted!
     
  • Line Items. These are the bane of my existence right now. If that doesn’t resonate with you in some way, I suspect it’s because you haven’t gotten there yet. You’ve seen them when you file your 470. You’ve seen them when you file your Form 471. And increasingly, you need to have ESP to know which to pick and/or how to file, lest you be in for a post-commitment headache at best, and a ridiculous denial decision at worst. Forms 500 and service substitution requests are anchored around line items, and each line item has one or more recipients of service, which can make for some massive data sets over time (we are working with one applicant who has amassed over 9,000 FRN line item recipient allocations just on their FY2015-2017 C2 applications.) Tip from the pros: spend some time with your line items. Do some research to find out exactly which “drop-downs” you should pick, and try to structure your line items as close as possible to the way you anticipate your invoices for the services will look. Also, come up with an organizational system for keeping track of FRN line items that works for you. The goal is not to have to make adjustments at a later date, but if you do, you’ll be awfully glad you got organized at the start of the process.
Of course, there will be other administration trends that will come along as we move down the road, and today’s hot topics will fade into relative obscurity. The key is that good E-rate administrators pay attention, not only to their own applications, but to the experiences of their peers and analysis by the experts. If you’d like to talk with some experts, give me a shout – I know some good ones.

Also, if you know where to get a good aspic, drop me a line.  I’ll be waiting in line for local organic farm-to-fork modern cuisine served out of the back of an Airstream. (Sigh.) 
 
 
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Key Words and Phrases
At the right time; Punctual; Convenient; Prompt; In time; Well-timed; Occurring at a suitable time.

Opposite Terms
Tardy; Too late; Missed chance.

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