The Universal Service Administrative Company announced November 19 that it has retained BearingPoint, Inc., to conduct approximately 1,000 site visits of E-rate beneficiaries over the next year as part of an outreach initiative on the part of the Schools and Libraries Division.
USAC said that the consulting company's site visits will:
- Educate applicants regarding program rules and answer questions;
- Provide first-hand knowledge on how E-rate funds are being used;
- Solicit suggestions on ways for USAC to improve its outreach and education efforts;
- Identify "best practices" to publicize for possible use by other program participants;
- Verify the receipt and function of invoiced E-rate products and services.
USAC said that starting in mid-January 2005, it will select approximately 80 school and library sites for visits each month. USAC said the selection will be based on "recent invoice activity." SLD officials had previously said that its representatives would select an invoice and then follow it back through all of the E-rate application processes.
USAC said that it would use the information gained from the BearingPoint reports to design future outreach and education efforts and to explore administrative changes to "make the application process easier."
BearingPoint, formerly known as KPMG Consulting, was spun off from KPMG, the global accounting firm, in the wake of the scandals involving Arthur Andersen and Enron. KPMG previously was retained by USAC to conduct audits of E-rate program beneficiaries, including a recent sample of 80 applicants.