Over the last two weeks, the FCC has released 5 appeal decisions. Each of the 5 appeals involves different aspects of the E-rate program.
On November 22nd, the FCC released Request for Waiver by Kan-ed, Kansas Board of Regents, Topeka, Kansas. USAC determined the Kan-ed consortium did not have all the required LOAs required of consortiums before the Form 471 was filed. USAC denied the consortium’s request because 30% or more of the LOAs were deficient. The FCC has determined that the 30% rule does not apply to consortium LOAs. Instead the FCC has ordered that in the event a consortium is unable to obtain LOAs from every entity listed on the Block 4 of its Form 471, the FCC directs USAC to remove those entities from the application and adjust the funding request accordingly, rather than deny the entire application.
View the Kan-ed Consortium Decision
On December 4th, the FCC released the following decisions:
In the Request for Review by Friendship House, Scranton, Pennsylvania, USAC had denied funding because Friendship House failed to use price as the primary factor when selecting their service provider. The referencing Form 470 was done for Funding Year 2002. Prior to 2004, the only guidance released by the FCC regarding vendor selection was in the Tennessee Order. Since this was the Order in place at the time of the Form 470, USAC needs to evaluate the bidding process using the Tennessee Order and not the current standard. The FCC determined that Friendship House did not violate the rules in place at the time, and remanded the case back to USAC.
View the Friendship House Decision
The Quinter Public Schools, Unified School District No. 293, Quinter, Kansas also involved the Tennessee Order. However, in this case USAC determined that the funding request filed by the school district was for Internal Connections rather than Telecommunications. The FCC found that “Because Quinter’s answers to the questions from the Tennessee Order were apparently inconsistent with the diagrams Quinter submitted, we find that USAC should have contacted Quinter again to determine with certainty whether Quinter had rebutted the presumption that facilities located on an applicant’s premises should be presumed to be internal connections.” The FCC made no determination regarding the category the Quinter application should have been filed under.
View the Quinter Decision
The FCC also remanded the 2004 funding requests for Coahoma County School District back to USAC for USAC to further clarify information with the applicant. USAC had determined during the selective review process that Coahoma did not have the necessary resources to utilize the requested discounts. The FCC found that Coahoma’s response “was not sufficiently clear for USAC to conclusively determine whether Coahoma was including monies that USAC had previously reimbursed to the school district for Funding Year 2003 or whether the monies were from future E-rate reimbursements for Funding Year 2004 that had not been received.” Even though the FCC found that USAC should have further questioned Coahoma, it was made clear there was no change in the rule that reimbursements from the schools and libraries program that have not been distributed to the applicant, may not be used to demonstrate that the applicant possesses necessary resources to pay the non-discounted portion.
View the Coahoma County Decision
The FCC also granted a waiver to the rule that non-recurring services be implemented by September 30th following the close of the funding year, with limited exceptions found in CFR § 54.507. Both Great Rivers Education Cooperative and their service provider, I-K Electric, requested the FCC waive the rule regarding installation deadline. Great Rivers had filed a Form 500 requesting the extension. Both Great Rivers and I-K Electric received assurances from SLD staff that the Form 500 request had been granted. The FCC found that Great Rivers had tried in good faith to comply with program rules and since the money had already been committed by the SLD, there was no harm in granting the waiver. The FCC also stressed this was a limited waiver and the current rule was not being eliminated.
View the Great Rivers Decision