The FCC recently released three major Orders dealing with "USAC designated time-frames", "technology plans" and "contracts" as detailed below. Funds For Learning anticipates in the future the FCC will continue to group appeals with similar issues together.
Alpaugh Unified School District
USAC denied 76 applicants on the grounds that applicants did not respond to SLD application reviewers "…within the USAC-specified time frame…" The FCC granted these appeals and USAC now has 120 days to process the applications.
The FCC stated that no fraud or intentional misuse of funds applies to these cases and these appeals involved procedural errors and not core program violations. The FCC is also directing USAC to develop outreach procedures to educate applicants if further information is required. USAC needs to "detail in writing and with specificity" the information or documentation they are seeking and applicants will have 15 days to respond accordingly.
Brownsville Independent School District
This Order regarding technology plans directly affects 32 applicants. In some of the cases petitioners did not understand what documentation the SLD was requesting. Others either had technology plans and provided the SLD with outdated information or thought they complied with technology plan approval deadlines. The FCC stated that "USAC denied their applications not because the applicants refused to develop or obtain approval of their technology plans, but they misunderstood a deadline." Other petitioners did not understand which telecommunication services were considered basic and did not require an approved technology plan. The SLD has 90 days to process these applications. This Order applies to all pending applications and appeals.The FCC again found these violations are procedural and not substantive. The FCC has given USAC further procedures for FY 2007 if an applicant provides insufficient information when asked about their technology plans and that USAC should conduct more outreach in order for applicants to have a better understanding of the technology plan requirements.
Adams County School District 14
The FCC granted 66 appeals with this decision on the grounds that the applicants actually had a legally binding contract by the time their Form 471 was filed. Six other applicants received relief from the FCC "whose funding commitments were reduced on the grounds that an existing contract expired without the applicant posting a new FCC Form 470 for services to be provided for the remainder of the funding year…" The applicants affected may have "technically missed a program deadline….or were adhering to local or state procurement laws." The FCC also made clear that if state procurement law does not require two dates and two signatures on the contract, then "…commission precedent does not impose such a requirement…"This decision also reaffirms the Iroquois Order that the SLD misinterpreted the 30% rule. The 30% rule states that if 30% or more of a funding request is for an ineligible service or product the whole request will get denied. However, the SLD has denied or reduced requests that included 30% or more of unsubstantiated amounts of eligible services.