Schools and Libraries Division staff members discussed with their governing board Oct. 20 their dilemma in choosing whether to focus their reviews on numbers of applications or total dollars.
The discussion began when USAC Board Chairman Frank Gumper noted that "3½ months after the start" of the funding year, the SLD "had still committed less than half of the money" it could—roughly $1.2 billion as of this week. (SLD officials also indicated that they have been authorized to commit up to $2.7 billion in the 2004 funding year since disbursements typically lag behind commitments.)
Under the SLD's current performance agreement with its contractors, performance is evaluated on the basis of number of applications processed, rather than the value of the commitments reviewed. For the 2004 application year, application reviewers will be attempting to clear 90 percent of applications by July 1, 2004.
SLD chief George McDonald noted that representatives of state networks recently urged the SLD to give a higher priority to their applications, which typically involve substantial funding requests that serve the needs of schools and/or libraries across a state. McDonald indicated that tackling applications with large dollar amounts first would require a substantial increase in the SLD's budget for application reviews.