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SLD Appears Prepared to Approve Up to $2.7 Billion

The Universal Service Administrative Company has posted draft minutes of the Schools and Libraries Division's governing board's Sept. 25 special meeting that indicate that the SLD is prepared to approve as much as $2.7 billion worth of funding commitments for the 2002-03 funding year.

At that meeting, the Schools and Libraries Committee of the USAC Board of Directors announced that it would be able to fund all eligible requests for support from applicants at a discount rate of 90 percent, and began authorizing the release of funding commitments for internal connections. Through the latest commitment wave, Wave Number 13, the SLD has approved a total of $1.378 billion in commitments, including $564 million for internal connections.

The draft minutes said that an analysis of the SLD's ability to fund internal connections 'relies on some key assumptions. It proposes an eventual commitment total of as much as $2.7 billion, with confidence based on prior-year experience that that will result in disbursements of no more than $2.25 billion." According to the minutes, the analysis assumed that the remaining pool of requests for Priority 1 services will be reduced by 27 percent during review, and that the remaining pool of internal connections requests will be reduced by 36 percent, 'slightly above the rate to date based on likely results of work under way by the Selective Review team."

Last year, the SLD was authorized, for the first time, to approve more than $2.25 billion in initial funding commitments, based on historical experience that showed that applicants often failed to use several hundred million dollars of their approved commitments. As of next spring, the Federal Communications Commission will begin authorizing the 'roll-over" of unspent dollars into commitment pool in future years.

Separately, the SLD's Program Integrity Assurance staff has begun requesting information from applicants with internal connections requests at a discount rate of between 80 and 89 percent. Those requests have been pending until the SLD could determine where its ultimate approval threshold for internal connections would be.

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